Saturday, March 13, 2010


Bye blog. I'm leaving you. I found someone more modern and hip. I did a few posts behind your back, and now I'm ready to go public.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Back to Byzantium

I fly to Istanbul in two weeks, to kick off a longer adventure to Upper Mesopotamia ... I guess it's time to resurrect the blog.

This will be my third trip. People ask Why Turkey?, and I usually give some on-the-spot lame answer that makes their eyes glaze over. No one ever asks, Why Rio?, or adds a caustic aside about, Oh, Paris again. But Istanbul confuses people, and that confuses me, because this is one of the more fascinating and beautiful cities on the planet, and Turkey itself has seen more empires come and go than any land I can think of, and how can people not know that? Or be intrigued by that?

Here's my agenda for the first couple days ... ten reasons Why? for Istanbul:

Have a massage at the Cemberlitas Hamam,

Attend a Mevlevi sema at Sirkeci Station,

Take a public ferry up the Bosphorus to a village on the Black Sea,

Visit St. Savior in Chora, a church decorated with Byzantine mosaics,

Spend Friday afternoon at the Eyup Mosque, founded on the spot where Mohamed's standard-bearer fell outside the medieval city walls,

Get lost again in the Grand Bazaar,

See the six-winged angel recently uncovered at Hagia Sophia,

Eat the best food in the Eastern Mediterranean,

Have a drink with the bears,

And then dance 'til dawn.

That should be enough for four days ...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bike Plan

I just turned in my comments on the O`ahu Bike Plan. I'm in a dark and cynical mood this month, and I don't really have much hope that the plan will be implemented. None of the past ones have been - all the money gets spent on consultants, and there's never any left over to actually build the bike lanes. I can still hope for a surprise.

I represent St. Louis on Neighborhood Board No. 5. I have been a bike commuter on O`ahu for the past 14 years. I currently commute daily between Kaimuki and Downtown. These comments are based on experience:

1. A major issue commuters face is a lack of connection between existing lanes and routes. This is not shown on your map. A few examples: A) The McCully / Kapiolani intersection is dangerous, and impossible to navigate in a legal yet safe manner. Riding makai down McCully, and a biker needs to make a left hand turn into a narrow gap in the stone wall that is usually occupied by pedestrians, while cars heading mauka inch into the area prepping for a right turn. B) The Bike Path that runs behind the Convention Center is broken into segments; bikers need to navigate a mid-block crossing on a blind hill twice. C) The intersection at Kapahulu and Ala Wai is not dangerous, but is messy & requires hopping on the sidewalk to make the connections. THE existing bike maps that you use treat each of these intersections as areas that are already functioning!

There are similar problems heading from town to the airport. There will be a great path, and then BAM! Nothing!

2. We have been told at the Neighborhood Board that there will be no money to implement this Plan. If this is the case, then the City would appear to be not in compliance with Charter Amendment 6, and this plan would be no different than the other plans that have been written, filed, and not implemented. Please address how the City and County can integrate bike planning into existing day to day operations. For example, if a road is repaved then we could add a proposed bike lane in then.

I would like to note that when issues regarding sidewalks, potholes, parking, etc. are raised at our Neighborhood Board meeting, the County will respond. When bike issues are raised we are told: Wait for the Bike Plan. We need to be able to address biking issues on an ongoing basis without needing a new Master Plan every decade. We don't wait for a Master Plan for sidewalks before building them.

3. Like other bike commuters, I don't understand what a "Bike Route" is. Two of the existing bike routes downtown - McCully and the one in Kaka`ako - are two of the worst urban roads for bike commuters. What will the benefit be of adding more "routes" if there are no infrastructure improvements to the route.

4. The urban hubs for bike commuters are UH, Ala Moana area, Waikiki, and Downtown. There is a good connection heading from UH to Downtown, and a passable connection Downtown to Ala Moana. If we have to prioritize, I would argue that we should focus on the flow between these areas.

I'd be willing to ride with any planners, or point out the areas where minor work on improving connections would result in major improvements. My email is Thank you.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Wrapping up my holiday back in Ann Arbor. I fly out tomorrow morning, and I'm trying to tire myself out tonight so that I sleep on the plane. I need to hit the ground running: Tuesday morning is the first candidate's forum, Tuesday lunch I meet with the Advertiser Board and try to win their love, and Tuesday evening I need to get my butt back to practice.

The whole family is here. Beth had a rough delivery but is doing well, Anne had her child three weeks early - just in time for me to meet him! - but is handling it like a pro, and John and Valerie have finally set a date for their wedding. I've spent a lot of the days cooking, first for the Fourth picnic (I tried a variety of Mediterranean meze, which ... I liked, at least ... but the Coney dogs were way more popular), then helping Sue prep food for Jeff and Anne. I'm staying with Jim and Jen, & their new house is right off our old neighborhood, so I've gotten the chance to wander through the past a bit.

I forgot how green and lush Michigan was. And how flat. But the township has changed so much that I can't say I miss it. The farms are gone, and now there are endless subdivisions of ugly new mansions. A lot were built on spec, and some of the neighborhoods are disturbingly quiet, full of giant houses next to vacant fields and empty cul-de-sacs. Our old neighborhood seems to be falling into disrepair. Some people are keeping up their houses, but one has been completely abandonned and others are fighting a losing battle against nature.

It can all be so sad, but it is also all so pretty and green. Now it seems that this whole construction boom was just a game. People bought and flipped houses, and never intended to live in any of them, and now we have more houses than people here & the game is over.

Into The Breach

I did it ... I put my name in for the Council Seat. There are sixteen of us - the former incumbent, one well-known Democrat, two union guys, a handful of Republican regulars, a horticulturist, and moi. It's a mail-in election, and the campaign season is only a few weeks long, so there's a fair amount of randomness in the system. My goal is simple: I need to make an strong impact in the debates, and I need to get some positive media attention - and at least move up from the "also running" list.

I refuse to stand on the corner and wave signs, and I'm going to hold off on fund-raising until I see how the first week of debates go. I won't spam my friends. Nathaniel Kinney (29, lawyer for the union) is trying to get all the candidates on twitter, and I was tempted, but I think I'm going to maintain my anti-Twitter stance. I just can't see myself twisting myself into someone I am not for the sake of a campaign - and if there is any campaign where we can present ourselves honestly, without cliche and facade, it will be this one.

Someone new will be elected; I don't think people want the same old faces again. The papers portray this as being between Kobayashi and Matsunaga. The papers are wrong. There are whispers that Kinney has Mufi's backing. He definitely has money and supporters from somewhere. The general mood is, give us someone new. I need to get to the top of the 'new' pack.

Below, my first announcement:

Aloha all!

As some of you know, I've registered as a candidate for Honolulu City Council, District V, representing Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Kakaako, and a portion of Ala Moana and Makiki.

This is a Special Election that will be decided by mail-in votes. You must be registered by July 8 for this election.

OK then.

First Campaign Promise: I won't be spamming my email list with endless updates. You'll get this one, and then one more if there is a public debate or if I decide to hold a benefit. That'll be it. I set up a website at Go there for more information. For people who want to get actively involved, or just want to get lots of emails, write me at

Some big names have entered the race, and there is some big money behind them. My hope is the hope of all long-shots: get a strong grass roots campaign going. Luckily, it's a crowded field, and therefore there is room for political newcomers to make an impact. My concern now is getting my name out there by focusing on core ideals.

For now, check out the website, let me know if you have any ideas or feedback, & if you like it pass this along to your email lists! I'll be tweaking the website over the weekend, and then trying to get some media coverage early next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Post Mortem

I've been meaning to come in for awhile now, and do one final post before letting this blog drift on into oblivion.

I figured I'd resurrect it when I travel, but I didn't really see a use for it beyond that. I've been pulling away from on-line life a lot lately. I deleted my accounts from most of the forums I took part in - I got tired of the flaming and the trolling and the irrationality (this morning on metafilterI was actually accused of being a front for Eminem, whom I detest). I boxed up my home computer this past April, which was liberating. I've been clear at work that I will answer emails on Fridays, and I delete them after I've read them.

The internet can be amazing, but I no longer think it's healthy in high doses.

I'll miss easy access to music. I thought I'd miss easy access to recipes, but I've got a pretty major collection of cookbooks that has must been gathering dust. I miss Facebook - it just doesn't work the same on my phone. And ...

... that's about it. I don't miss much else. It was hard the first weekend, but in the end quitting internet was far easier than quitting smoking. And it feels like I have a bit more of my life back. I've been going to the gym a lot, reading actual books, and socializing more with flesh-and-blood people. It's been liberating. I've been living like we all used to live in the old days, back all of fifteen years ago.


Not that I've totally quit internetting. I still log on from coffee shops about once a month, and I still ready the news and emails on my iPhone. And I'm thisclose to putting my name in for special election on the open City Council seat. And if I do that I'll have to be online a lot more. Only this time it won't be an addiciton. It'll be business.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Slush Fund

I just put down a deposit on an Atlantis Cruise in October, I committed to doing the Vaka Eiva series of races in Raratonga, I'm off to New York this March, and I'm fantasizing about an extended trip to Eastern Turkey next Spring  ...

... and for the third time today, someone has asked where I get the money ...and do I have a secret slush fund? ...  especially since every other weekend I am mostly broke. 

Here's how it works:

- I ride my bicycle to work almost every day.  Savings: let's say $2500 a year over those of you who pay for parking and gas.

- I cook my own meals. Lunches, at least these days, are mostly vegetarian and made of what I find at the Kapi`olani Farmers' Market. So, twenty bucks a week for me versus forty if I ate at the lunch wagon: that's maybe a grand a year,  plus at least another grand over those of you who eat out for dinners.

- Add to that the weekends that I am happy and content nursing my garden or reading books rather than drinking at the bars ...

And that's already three trips to Paris, at least, airfare and hotel included. 

And that's how I do it.