Archive for the ‘Hawai'i (non-Maui)’ Category

In the US, December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. Pearl Harbor Day was established to remember and honor the 2,403 citizens of the United States who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The attack catapulted the United States into World War II, with President Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, calling December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” As the years pass, fewer people are alive who remember the day from personal memory. Pearl Harbor Day is not just a vague day of remembrance for me. My father was a World War II veteran, having served in the US Navy near the end of the war. He was not in the service when the war started, nor in 1941. Like many other young men of his day, he volunteered when he was old enough to do so. Why he picked the Navy, I don’t entirely remember. He got seasick and he couldn’t swim. He had to communicate in semaphore, which he laughingly told me he could never master during his brief stint in the Boy Scouts. When the war was over, he left the service, tried out a couple of colleges, and then worked for others until he struck out on his own as a business owner in San Francisco. Where would my father have ended up if he hadn’t been in the service? Not sure. I think he had already dropped out of high school. I don’t think he could have afforded even the little bit of college he attended if it hadn’t been for the G.I. Bill. He was a child of the Great Depression and a bit of a rebel kid, from his telling of it years later. He never considered himself to be a member of any sort of “Greatest Generation.” As I mentioned before, Dad said he felt that every generation rises up to the challenges of its day. Some though, you would have to acknowledge, have had far graver challenges than others.

When I was living on Maui, my sister and her family would come to visit. During one visit, we all spent a few days on Oahu. My sister, Mike, and I went to Pearl Harbor, and we went out by boat to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was an incredibly moving experience for me. I’d have to look back at my old blog entry (if I still have it) for more details, but I remember feeling less sad than I thought I would but also completely in awe of the magnitude of the events of that day. And still very sad for the Navy service members who lost their lives aboard the USS Arizona. And throughout Pearl Harbor. Hearing and reading about it don’t generate the feelings that come when you stand above the wreckage of a sunken ship somewhat frozen in time. Or see the wall of names of those who died. I’m grateful I had the experience to visit the memorials and exhibits in person. As more and more years past, fewer and fewer visitors will have had stories of World War II told to them in person by someone with firsthand knowledge. As it is, those of us with “Greatest Generation” parents and grandparents probably didn’t hear a lot of stories to begin with. It seems to be a shared trait of many WWII veterans to have rarely shared stories of their service. When my father halted his cancer treatments over 10 years ago, I realized I had no idea where he had traveled during his Navy career. I went out, bought a large paper world map, grabbed some pens, and put the map in front of my dad. I told him, “Now you show me where you went, where you stopped, how did you end up with those carvings you said you got in Africa?” I’m glad I had the chance to do that too. There’s a big chunk of collective history we are losing year after year.
And with that, I’ll post a few pictures from my trip to the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s been over 10 years since I was there, so I don’t know how much its operations have changed. I think it was shut down for a while. I hope there are still opportunities for others to visit it.
On a lighter note, December 7 also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary. And this year would have been their 50th, if my father was still alive. There’s a whole other set of stories about their meeting, and marriage, and wedding day. Mom loves to tell people a few particulars about the day. Maybe I’ll share that on a separate blog. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.


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I miss being able to get a flower lei everywhere.

The traditional lei, made of flowers or shells or other material, is a great way to express love, welcome, congratulations, or honor.  It has become a truly enduring symbol of Hawai’i.  http://www.hawaiiflowerlei.com/leitradition.aspx

On Maui you can buy a fresh flower lei almost everywhere.  Whenever I would pick someone up at the airport for a visit, I would stop first to buy a lei to greet him/her/them.  You can buy them at any Safeway store or, better yet, get a two-pack of purple orchid lei or a fancy tuberose lei at Costco.  Leis are a simple yet elegant way of recognizing someone special.

I miss them.  I miss being able to run to the grocery store and picking up a lei to share.  I miss giving them away.  I miss having them in the house.


I think this topic will be a continuing series here as I re-adjust to life in California.


You didn’t know I’m moving back to California?  eh? 

Oh – go see my entry about all the poor blogs stuck in draft.  I’ll try and finish the one that explains what I’ve been doing since the end of February. 

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I missed it last week, but Kilauea has been in constant eruption for 10,000 days.  Happy Anniversary!

I never managed to make it over to the Big Island of Hawai’i while living in Maui.  Too bad.  I hear the Aloha spirit is most alive over there, still.  But maybe someday, on a trip back to Maui (not my packing trip in June), I will make my way over to the Big Island. 


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Wow.  Just wow. I’ve been gushing about this all day – just let me blab for a little while longer and then I’ll talk about something else.

I’ve been parked in front of my laptop most of the day watching live coverage of the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau (rhymes with wow!). This is a surfing competition held at Waimea Bay on the north shore of the island of Oahu. The event is an invitational and the holding period runs from December through February. However, the Eddie doesn’t “go” unless the surf reaches the height requirements: waves must reach a minimum height of 20 feet (Hawaiian measurement – this is based on open-ocean swells and can result in wave face heights of 30 to 40 feet).  The man himself – Eddie Aikau – was born on Maui where he began surfing at age 11.  He moved to Oahu where he became a world-famous surfer and the first official lifeguard on the island at Waimea Bay.  Eddie died at the age of 31 after the Hokule’a canoe he was aboard capsized, dumping the entire crew.  Eddie paddled away to go for help.  While the crew was eventually rescued, Eddie was never seen again.  You can read about the history of the Eddie HERE

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Eddie. In that time, the event has only been completed seven times. Most years, the waves are just not high enough.

This year, the ocean was generous and today was an epic Eddie.

Now, I’m not a huge sports fan. The older I get, the more disillusioned I am with professional sports. I think many professional athletes in the “major” sports are overhyped, overpaid, and over-full-of-themselves. Since my father died, I’ve been watching less professional football, NASCAR, golf, and tennis.  Sweetie is not a big professional sports fan, so we just don’t watch much.

But I am a big fan of a good competition. Give me my summer and winter Olympics, some Top Chef, a little Amazing Race, and, of course, loads and loads of poker on ESPN. I love watching the best of the best show off their skills doing something I will probably never be able to do.  And as a certified news junkie, I cannot help but be inundated with anticipation of the possible running of the Eddie when I watch my local newscasters every year around this time. So, when word came last week from our weather guy (a surfer) that some huge swells were heading towards the islands, I was as excited as a non-surfer could get. Sweetie and I even braved the crowded roads on Sunday to go over to one of Maui’s best spot to catch surfers. The best surf spot on Maui is Jaws but it’s a pain to get to, so Hookipa Lookout works for most folks.

And today?  Today, the Eddie was a go!

The news came before 8:00 a.m. this morning and by 8, I was sitting at my laptop with the live webcast watching the heats.  What a day!

The competitors each went out twice in groups of seven.  Each group had their time out on the water to catch four waves for scoring.  Then the next group.  Then the next group.  And so on – from 8:00 a.m to about 4:00 p.m.   Each surfer could end up with 8 scores and they took (I think) the top 4 scores for a final score.  The surfers have 8 chances, which is good because some waves were bigger than others.  And there were some spectacular wipeouts today. 

The competition was AMAZING.  Simply incredible.  The Quicksilver group had several camera crews set up from shore and provided non-stop coverage of the waves and surfers.  Again, I am not a surfer – haven’t even spent a lot of time following the sport but wow, this was pretty cool. 

Some observations:

  • I saw some very gracious competitors today.  Every guy that came off the beach and stopped for an interview was fairly humble and gracious.  They paid tribute to Eddie.  They said they were honored to be invited.  Of course, these guys are super pros and may be as arrogant as sin.  But then, the pure light of competition adrenaline in an athlete’s eyes can be inspiring when they are in the thick of it, arrogant or no.
  • Wow oh wow – Clyde Aikau!  Wow.  Eddie’s younger brother was one of the competitors today.  He was amazing.  He got at least one great wave, which should be in the video of Heat 2.  Keep in mind, Eddie’s younger brother Clyde is now 60 years old.  He won the event in memory of his brother in 1986. He is 60 years old and out on the massive waves showing the young pros and grommets HOW IT IS DONE.  Wow. 
  • The waves were high yesterday and the director made the call – No Go.  Disappointing for the surfers but, in light of the conditions today – good decision.  The wave sets were big today and I think the overall conditions were much better than yesterday.  The commentators, the competitors, and even my surfing-happy weatherman on the news tonight all said that this may have been the best ever run of the Eddie.
  • Crazy crowds.  One of the competitors said this was the largest crowd he has ever seen.  At one point, one of the Quicksilver commentators said the police estimated the crowd at 30,000.  Hard to gage from the video coverage.  It didn’t look that crowded and I don’t know how that many people can cram into the viewing spaces along Waimea Bay.  But I believe it.  I cannot even imagine how many workers on Oahu called in “sick” today.  An Australian couple on the local news tonight said they walked about five miles from where they parked their car.  I’ve driven along the north shore before – I think it’s just one way in each direction the whole way.  I can easily imagine having to hoof it for 5 or 6 miles today.  Crazy.
  • (edited)  Big waves.  When the big sets would come in, the surfers were waiting for the biggest waves.  The commentators would like of laugh and say to each other – “Look at that!  That’s a 20-foot wave and no one is going for it.”  They were waiting for something bigger.   I’m not exactly sure how the scoring was done, but I think the surfers basically have to successfully get to the bottom of big waves.  No big manuevers or theatrics.  Just make it down.  On the videos, when you see one of the surfers riding the wave waaaaaay out back to shore, that generally meant that it was his last wave of the set and he was getting out of the water.  The crowd loved it, of course.
  • The competition – speaks for itself.  The video clips are at the Quicksilver site
    Heat 2 has a clip of Clyde Aikau.  I think Heat 8 shows the two perfect 100 scores during the last set of the competition. 
  • Heat 2

(Updated)  I still can’t seem to embed the videos but Heat 8 is definitely worth taking a look at.  These were huge sets and both of the perfect 100 scores of the day came from this set – one from Greg Long and one from Ramon Navarro. 
  Heat 8

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Eddie would go!

It hasn’t run since 2004, but this morning the waves at Waimea Bay are HUGE.  The tournament director made the call this morning – The Eddie is on!  The first 7-man heat started 10 minutes ago (8:00 a.m. Hawai’i time). 

The live webcast is pretty good.  Good commentators.  Good replays.  And incredible coverage of the awesome sets.  Wow wow wow!

Check it out:


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Pearl Harbor Day

December 7 – Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day for folks here in the US – may have more meaning for me than for other people.  For one thing, I now live in Hawai’i and nowhere are the events of December 7 1941 more remembered than at Pearl Harbor itself.  The attack on that day targeted not only the harbor with the US Navy ships, but also Hickham, Wheeler, and Bellows Army air fields, Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, and Kaneohe Naval Air Station.  It is now 2009 and there are still people living on Oahu who remember the attacks from 1941.  There are also still a very few veterans of World War II in the area.  Fewer and fewer every year, but some are still around.

Another reason I always remember this day on my calendar is because it is/was also my parents’ wedding anniversary.  Happy Anniversary!

And finally, speaking of those World War II vets, my father was one.  He would have been 83 years old this year.  He was a Navy man and, although he rarely talked about it, he was fiercely proud of his service during the war.  He was one of those young guys going along with his life when the US entered the war.  He and his brothers signed up and shipped off to various parts of the earth.  Dad in particular went to many places as he ended up on a supply ship and circumnavigated the world at least twice.  He left the service after WWII, and he really never accepted the term “Greatest Generation.”  Dad always felt that every generation rises up to the challenges that it faces.

My Big Sis and I visited Pearl Harbor a couple of years ago when she was here visiting.  We went out to the USS Arizona memorial.  Later, Sweetie and I also visited the USS Missouri.  It was a moving and educational experience.   I thought I would be overcome with emotion when I got out to the USS Arizona memorial, thinking about my father and the Navy men and service-people and American civilians who died on December 7, 1941.   I’m not generally a loud flag-waving rah-rah type.    But I felt more awe than sadness while gazing out at the water in the Harbor.  I could write something cliche about those who are doomed to repeat the past if they don’t remember it.  But I think many people do remember past wars.  We remember why they came about.  We remember how they were fought and the cost of fighting them.  And then tomorrow dawns with a whole new set of world events and circumstances and there is never a guarantee that we won’t fight again.  I haven’t figured out how to prevent that from happening yet but I’ll let you know if I do someday. 


Some a previous blog of mine – facts from Pearl Harbor:

  • The USS Arizona tour is free.  You arrive, get a card for admission to the excellent 20+ minute movie, and board a boat that takes you out to the USS Arizona memorial in the harbor. 
  • The loss of life on the USS Arizona on Sunday, December 7, 1941 was 1,177 lives.  Overall, more than 2,000 lives were lost at Pearl Harbor that morning. 
  • After being struck by airborne torpedoes, which ended up hitting the ammunition magazine section of the battleship, the USS Arizona battleship sunk in less than nine minutes.
  • 66 years after the explosion that destroyed Arizona, oil leaks from the hull still rise to the surface of the water. The USS Arizona continues to leak about a quart of oil per day into the harbor.  Survivors from the crew say that the oil will continue to leak until the last survivor dies.
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor sunk, beached (the USS Nevada captain ran his ship aground so it would not block the harbor entrance as it sank), or damaged 21 ships in the harbor.
  • Of the 21 ships, including eight battleships, that were damaged during the attack, all but three were returned salvaged, returned to service and later saw action.  The restored ships included the USS California, USS Maryland, and the USS Pennsylvania.  The USS Utah, Arizona, and Oklahoma were total losses. 
  •  The damaged USS Tennessee was restored within two weeks.
  • The USS West Virginia was raised, repaired and returned to duty in 1944.  She later won five battle stars and was present in Tokyo Bay in 1945 to witness the Japanese surrender.
  • According to the “Casualties of World War II” chart on board the USS Missouri, there were 19 million military deaths and 50 million civilian deaths during WW II.  The civilian deaths included 15,000,000 in China and 20,000,00 in the Soviet Union and 5,600,000 in Poland.  Staggering losses of civilian life.

To learn more check out these sites:




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From today’s Maui News:

The National Weather Service is warning of “giant” surf headed for the islands, prompting civil defense officials to caution people in coastal areas to take precautions.

A set of very powerful storms in the north Pacific will produce two northwest swells over the coming week, according to the weather service. The first swell was expected to arrive Friday night and peak today, bringing 20- to 30-foot surf with 40-foot sets on outer reefs.

A second and larger swell was forecast to arrive Sunday night, with surf building rapidly to 30 to 40 feet, with sets up to 50 feet on outer reefs early Monday through Tuesday night. Surf is expected to remain above warning levels through Wednesday.

That’s Eddie Aikau size ladies and gents!

I blogged last year about the Quicksilver Invitational in memory of Eddie Aikau over on Oahu.  The holding period just started for this season and now we have alerts for some super high surf.  They haven’t run the Eddie since 2004, but this may be the year folks! 

I don’t know why I get so excited about it.  I’m not a surfer.  Although – I still want to take at least one or two lessons while I am living on the island.  I think it’s pretty intimidating to have a surf invitational event that isn’t even held if the waves don’t get big enough.  Makes it pretty intense when it runs.  I’d love to be on the North Shore to see it live but it’s fun enough for me to watch our local newscasters report. 

As for Maui, maybe I’ll have to run out to the Hookipa Lookout spot and see if any local surfers would dare to brave the waves.  I don’t think our surfing spots are as consistent as Oahu’s North Shore, but it’s still fun to watch. 

Eddie Aikau site is over HERE.

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For some odd reason, Sweetie and my visits to California often seem to coincide with funerals. Most of the time we don’t plan it that way. Long long ago I once flew back to California just to attend a funeral. I hate to say I couldn’t afford to do that these days. But. I don’t think I can afford to do that these days unless I really need to.

A year ago Sweetie and I were able to attend his mom’s cousin’s funeral. We were here in July when we learned that a good friend of his family had died and attended that funeral with his mom, sister and (our new) bro-in-law. I was able to attend another aunt’s funeral – was it two years ago…. or last year?? Wow, I can’t remember. I also attended the funeral of one of my dad’s best friends while visiting California.

Big Sis, Mom and I just attended a funeral yesterday. We learned that my last aunt on my father’s side died. For Big Sis and me, all of our aunts and uncles are now gone on my dad’s side of the family. For our cousins, our mom is the only Auntie left. I stood next to my cousin C. yesterday and asked her – Do you realize that, other than mom, we are now the “elder” generation? She told me that, yes – she had actually thought of that herself. What a generation shift! It doesn’t seem that long ago that Big Sis and I were running through my eldest aunt’s house at Christmas, chasing our cousins’ kids and waiting for that perfect present from Uncle H. Now, one of my cousins is a grandfather and another one just sent his son off for his second year of college. My father’s parents had six children. Out of those six came only seven grandchildren. I am the youngest of the seven and haven’t even had my own kids yet, for heaven’s sake! But here we are. The next line of the family. Six of us were at the funeral yesterday. Somehow we seem to keep meeting up at funerals. We hug and catch up on new jobs, retirements, vacation, kids, grandkids, and surgeries.

There are few people I know who would say they enjoy attending funerals. However, given the death of a family member or good friend, I am glad for the times when I can pay my respects in person. Many people would say that funerals are not so much for the dead as for the living. I think it’s true to the extent that a lot of people need that odd ceremony to feel like they have said “goodbye.” For me, I needed my dad’s funeral to tell people a little about his life. And to thank those who came for being in his life. No, I don’t like funerals. But I value them. I’m not sure why I seem to time my trips with them, but I think I appreciate the cosmic calendar that allows me to attend as many as I can.

Now, if I could just avoid another one for a long stretch of time, I’d be happy.

By the way, Father Damien was canonized in Rome today. Kind of a big deal in Hawai’i.


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