Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pic Dump

Our poor mango tree got a buzz cut, giving the whole house a vaguely gothic feel.

We have a view. Yippee. At least some of the jungle remains.

The gang midway through the Nu`uanu Traverse.

And the beginnings of my new tiki bar.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Have I missed the mark, or, like true archer, do I strike my quarry?
Or am I prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?

[Cassandra in Aeschylus's Agamemnon]

I've seen two older movies this year that have hit hard, and shown both the power and futility of art. Both are painfully prophetic - movies that make you think how can we be in this mess today? Can't you see that we were warned about this fifty years ago? Orwell and 1984 get all the attention - but his shit was wide of the mark. Communism didn't turn out to be the threat we thought it was. Demagoguery and wars based on ignorance were a much bigger threat, and Elia Kazan and Gillo Pontecorvo hit the bulls-eye.

So my friends, get on Netflix and rent these two movies: A Face in the Crowd (1957) and The Battle of Algiers (1966). Don't even bother with the reviews. Go in blind, and trust me on this. You will see the America of 2006 reflected & critiqued in a way that few modern filmmakers would dare to attempt.

Few but not all. I don't have HBO, and so couldn't catch Spike Lee's documentary on Katrina. And since I hadn't seen a flic of his since Malcom X - and since I didn't think that it was very good I've pretty much ignored his work for the past decade. It was a mistake on my part. I rented 25th Hour (2002) to compensate for missing his documentary [I'll spare you the logic behind that one] and was blown away. It was far more complex and ambiguous and powerful than anything I've seen recently. I don't know how this movie came and went with so little attention ...

... fuck it. Yes I do. Racism is alive and well in the USA & some people still haven't forgiven Spike Lee for Do The Right Thing - which still stands as the defining American movie of the 1980's.

Back in the outside world: I caught up on Fananu gossip with Rhenniken [now Emily] and Gina. I had a great day with them, although I was a bit horrified at the tenament conditions of their neighborhood. I'll be keeping an eye open for places in town for them - these girls need to get out of the ghetto. Of my hanai family: Lukupar died in childbirth, Agnes and Imaku are still on Fananu, Rhenniken's husband Lucky was lost at sea, Kalalan is still a bachelor, and wild-girl Inomen - who could drink me under the table - is settled down and married on Udot. Ipuan passed away after the doctors amputated his legs due to complications from diabetes, and there was no word of his second wife Anna - who the girls never liked anyways.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Monster Escapes [just a little bit]

I'll start with the bad and move on to good. I snapped in Spanish tonight. I told myself beforehand that I would just take it for what it was, but what it turned out to be was crap & I changed my mind about taking it. I was planning on making a quick exit at break, but I was so angry I had to say something. So I let the teacher know that I wouldn't be coming back, that I would like a refund, and that her class was a complete waste of time.

It was more than I intended to say, but I was not being harsh. That was gentle. Melissa Mansfield is being fundamentally dishonest in collecting money to teach Spanish. Her accent is pure gringa, she mispronounces basic words, she doesn't prep for lessons, and instead of using the book she has us - a class full of forty and fifty year old professoinals - play Sesame Street games designed for ages three and up. I don't think she knows the language. When I asked why we weren't using the masculine and feminine participles when we spoke she said we'll cover that later. I like to think she saw the look in my eye then, because she stayed on the opposite side of the classroom after that. Hawaiian style is to stay quiet and keep the peace. Sometimes that passivity is exploited, and we've got to make some noise.

I'm not even pissed about the money [though I better get it back, in full]. It's that I have a life, and I gave things up to go to class. Now the homepage for Kaimukī Community School for Adults [733-6460] says No refunds will be issued once the 2nd class has begun. Which means I'll be entertaining the troops tomorrow with a very entertaining phone call to the DOE.

On to the good: I'm loving my organic tiki mixes! The orgeat is awesome - smooth, creamy, and with a rich almond taste. I love it with bourbon or rye. The falernum has a mysterious spicy undertone under all the lime that I'm still learning to work with. For the first time I understand the difference between a cocktail and a simple mixed drink. The grenadine is far better than the nasty cough syrup you get from Rose's. The spice-based liquors still need time to mellow; the anise and pimento are far too sharp still. And the orange Contro-type liqueuer was good, but tasted more of coffee and vanilla than orange. I liked it, but I want orange! I bought some organic blood oranges and added them to the liqueur. I'll strain again in a few weeks.

I still haven't figured out if I'll fly with them to North Carolina [checked, of course] or shell out the bucks to ship 'em.

Met a very cool guy this week: Tim from St. Louis. I
think we're looking at friendship more than romance, but I'm fine with that [well, mostly fine] - I've seriously enjoyed spending time with him. As a bonus he's also a world traveller, and has been to the places I've fantasized about. And I'm not talking Paris or anything obvious. I'm talking Wadi Rum.

We'll have dinner tomorrow. We've talked about making travel plans together in the future. And that's an easy one: hell yeah. I really do want to do Egypt [2 weeks] and Jordan [1 week], and I'd been thinking about working in a week in İstanbul, and possibly a week doing Carnival somewhere.
Those are flexible. I'll see what his fantasies are for 2007. It would be amazing if we found common ground. I'm pretty sure we will.

And by far the biggest surprise of the summer, if not the year: Rhenniken! And I'm not even going to try and put the accents on that. I was crossing Bishop Street after lunch, and I swear this Micronesian chick cruised me hard. She looked like a toughie too - hair pulled back in tight braids and baggie clothes. So I stared back, smiled, kept walking, and honestly I was kind of amazed that a Chuukese woman would be that brazen ... and ... something wasn't making sense ... and so I turned around mid street and I turned around right when she did AND SHE SCREAMED.

Dudes, it was my hanai sister from the Peace Corps. I used to look for Re Pááfeng when I moved here, but never met one. Or heard of any who had moved here. There are a fair amount of Chuukese here, but all from the Lagoon and the Mortlocks. Never any Re Fan - the traditional people from the Pááfeng, Weita, and Pattiw atolls.

And here she was, of all people, my sister, straight from Fananu. Now, here's the thing about the outer islanders of Chuuk - and maybe it's the thing about all traditional peoples. In context they are loud and funny and irreverent & basically all about pleasing the spirits [or at least not pissing them off too much] and having a good time.

But something happens to people when they enter late into the modern age. Part of their spirit seems to fade out; or rather, it curls up into something tight and hidden within. In the District Centers the outer island people become quiet and reserved; they become more watcher than participant. And in the cities of the West they disappear and fade into the margins. They are the people you only see if you choose to see them, the aborigine half-hidden in the shadows on the edge of town.

What they aren't, understand, is a woman dressed in her B-Boy best blocking traffic while she screams and hugs a haole boy in the middle of a downtown intersection.

I haven't spoken Fosun
Pááfeng in a dozen years. It'll be slow coming back. I got that Rhenniken and Gina [who was Gina? She spoke of 'our family' - so she must be related] were both unmarried [so what happened to Kannie her husband?], that Ipuan had died, that lots of typhoons have hit the island, and that a lot of Murilo people had moved in. Rhenniken worked in Alaskan fishing oats for a couple years and moved to Honolulu in 2002 or 2003.

There will be lots to catch up on. Not that I even understood all the family dynamics when I lived there.

We made plans for Saturday. The girls want to go to the North Shore, so I'll pick them up in my van and we'll make a day of it. I'll expect nothing but the unexpected. And turkey tails.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rulz for all who see dis

I was trying to stay positive. Or at least trying to not be too much of a bitch. I really did put in a good faith effort. But it was no use. My first night of Kaimukī Adult Ed Spanish was far, far worse than I ever imagined it could be.

It didn’t look so bad at first. I was happy to see that the campus was full of adults, and not the 22-year old thugs who had spent high school in lock-up that I had fantasized about feared. And our class didn’t look bad at all. There were a few women in their fifties, a twink in slacks and an aloha shirt buttoned up to the neck, a woman with a blond mustache, a muscled & tanned hottie in tight jeans, a shy Japanese girl, an older Japanese man, and a southern girl in peach corduroys. It was all straight out of central casting.

The teacher walks in, and sets down a copy of Teach Yourself Spanish. It’s a lame title, but I love this series. It got me through Turkish and Bahasa, and I was happy to see this was our text. Things were looking pretty good. Silly me of little faith, I had actually been worried that this would have been a waste of time, that the only thing the Hawai`i Department of Education would be able to produce was Spanish for Illiterates.

Next time I’ll maintain my cynicism a bit longer, because things went downhill rapidly after that. And they stayed down. First our teacher gives her qualifications. She has a minor in Spanish from the University of Houston, and she studied abroad twice. Which: WTF??? They couldn’t find any Mexicans in this town? Then she tells us we’ll learn the alphabet. And colors. And days of the week. And our numbers. And how to ask for directions. And we’ll also learn pronouns, and adjectives, and the present tense. Don’t worry if we start off slow, she tells us. Be patient. It’ll get more involved as we go along.

I’ll be patient. Seré patiente. So: on with the show. ¡Hola! Let’s introduce ourselves! Ok. Let’s! Let’s meet the women. They’ve all taken this class before, but forgot everything after ¡Hola! They want to learn Spanish because it’s such a beautiful language. Let’s meet the Japanese girl. Or not … she speaks so softly we can’t hear a word. On to the twink. Only he’s not a twink, he’s from a small town in Russia & the tightly buttoned shirt is a cultural trait and not a signifier of sexual repression. At least he’s brave enough to say me llamo Boris. Because certainly we all know that already, don’t we? Or maybe not. The woman with the mustache has trouble understanding what we’re doing, and why Boris didn’t answer in English. She sets the bar low, and yet will still fail to clear it anytime in the next two hours.

On to the cutie. Se llama Sean. ¡Hola Sean! Estás muy caliente, Sean. I like the way you fill them jeans. And I’m trying to figure out how to get Sean in my study group, and I almost miss hearing him say that he needs Spanish for his mission. His last mission he visited an orphanage in Enseneda and the little orphan kids were so cute and he just wishes he could talk to them.

And the teacher tells us that kids are just the best to talk to because they use simple words and talk slow, and they’re so much easier to understand than the adults.

Mr. Matsumoto wants to be able to understand Spanish love songs. After this he wants to take salsa lessons. I really like Mr. Matsumoto. I'm withholding judgement on Sean.

My turn. I’m so tempted to say that I want to learn Spanish so that I can get laid in Guadalajara. I don’t, but I decide to show off a bit. Just a bit. So: Me llamo Michael. Me voy a México en Novembre y quiero hablar bien. Basic, I know, but I still get dirty looks from half the class. I’m so getting beat up on the playground.

And then it was on to the evening’s lesson: the alphabet. And we will spend the next two hours learning the alphabet, mostly by playing bingo. The woman with the mustache gets confused, but most of the class figures out the concept. And here is where I really start to suffer, because I think I have a better accent than the teacher. I mean, her shit was bad. We learned ‘che’ as in Chee, the ‘guy who went to Cuba’. We learn ‘ese’ as in seeñor and seeñorita. When I suggest Tijuana for ‘te’ she mis-corrects me and calls it Tia-juana. We skip ‘erre’ because – and this is verbatim – I’m a white girl and it’s hard for me to roll my r’s.

But it’s when she tells us she’ll bring in Spanish movies, and I suggest Almodóvar, and she tells me that she’s never heard of him, that I just give up. I drifted off, and started deconstructing the classroom. Bad idea, because if what I saw on the walls was any indication of how the rest of our schools are run then the Department of Education is being criminally negligent.

Most of the walls were covered in inspirational posters from Nike. There were some hand-printed signs with quotes from A Fifth Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul. It’s cheesy, but not criminal. The sign under the clock read Everyone needs a Savior! That was a bit sketchy. But the rest of the signs and posters were in pidgin. The worst: Rulz for all who read dis. Rule No. 2: Put all food in outside trash cans so trash cans no stay pilau and we no die from odorous fumes.

I’m a fan of creoles and pidgins. I admire their beauty and rhythms. But creoles are the language of the streets, and public schools need to be teaching literacy. When the alien overlords appoint me overseer of these islands [since I doubt I’d ever get elected, and coups are difficult these days, aliens are my last hope] one of my first acts will be to put Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto on notice: clear the schools of pidgin in five days or face jail time.

Back to Spanish pre-101. I’m not so worried now that I’ll miss half the classes. I’ll probably see it through, though. I’ll treat this as a study group, but continue to teach myself. It should at least keep me on track.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sneaky Ioke

I'm dragging today. I woke up around 5am after having nightmares about being chased by a Nurse Ratched type character. Hell if I know what it was all about. She got me in the end - cornering me in the bedroom and jabbing a long needle into my forearm.

After that I was pretty much awake. I decided to make up for a slothful and drunken weekend and go to the gym before work. I got there all hopped up on caffeine, and was tearing through my workout until about 7:30 - at which point all my energy disappeared into the ether. I was like the Energizer Bunny on Brand X batteries. I could feel the juice leaking out.

And while I wasn't looking, Hurricane Ioke popped up out of nowhere. I was looking at the surf reports, and saw this:

It was a surprise, needless to say. Hector is still far to the east and barely hanging on. There was nothing going on this weekend to suggest that another hurricane was forming just to the south of us. And yet the satellite photo is pretty clear.

It took everyone by surprise. No hurricane has formed in the Central Pacific since 2002. The tracking sites I use don't even have enough data to model historical tracks. Right now NOAA is confident that Ioke will hit Johnson Island and will miss us entirely. We'll see. Hurricanes are sneaky buggers.

What I'm most curious about is: what will happen to the south swell coming our way? Will a swell pass through a hurricane? Change direction? Or be wiped out entirely? I checked with Dolan [he of the Mesoscale Eddy lesson], and his guess is that it depends on the quadrant, and that the swell will most likely be subsumed by the storm.

Either way, we should have some interesting water by mid week.

Friday, August 18, 2006


This is Wade Robson ...

and this is the incredible routine he choreographed for the top ten finalists in So You Think You Can Dance:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tiki Update

Having major nicotine fits tonight - I'm almost bouncing off the walls. I drove to 7-11 to pick up a pack, then turned around in the parking lot.

The orgeat, grenadine, and falernum are finished. The orgeat and grenadine are awesome, although I'm having trouble mixing the orgeat with rum [like all the tiki recipes call for]. The almond in it is a great counterpart to rye and bourbon, though. A splash of orgeat instead of an orange gives a nice depth to an old fashioned, and the one drink that truly works for me is - to my knowledge - unnamed. So I'll be calling it an MC-1 until I learn otherwise.

The MC-1
2 parts rye
1 part orgeat
1/2 part falernum

- Pour over a chilled glass filled with ice. Strain, and serve.
I'll post a pretty picture tomorrow.

A pounch with orgeat, rum, fruit juice, & grenadine is also pretty damned good.

The falernum needs work. I only added a fraction of the lime juice, and yet the lime overpowers all the ginger and clove aromas. The falernum is nice as an additive, but doesn't work yet as a major flavoring. I'm going to try a second batch, this time with the zest of only one lime, I'll let it macerate for ten days, and not add lime juice at the end.

I did an experiment using rum, orgeat, grenadine, falernum, and a splash of ouzo [basically: all the new flavors on my shelf]. The layers of flavor were incredible - almond followed by pomegranate followed by anise. I don't have the right proportions down yet, but there is serious potential here.

I thought I had stumbled upon something new under the sun - until I discovered that I had almost replicated the original Mai Tai; the only difference was that I used a splash of ouzo instead of half a shot of Cointreau. Now I'll never order a Mai Tai in a bar because they tend to be sickeningly sweet, but I figured the original Mai Tai, Roe Ai! might have potential. But as other bloggers have noted, all you can taste is the lime. The other exotic ingredients are wasted here.

My jello-cat Grasshopper is begging for attention, the local schools are prosecuting a 14-year old kid for sexual assault for touching a girl's privates, and an American in Thailand has just confessed to JonBenet Ramsey's murder. And as for the last: holy shit. Like everyone else in the USA I assumed it was the parents who did it. And if we were wrong, and the parents were innocent, then ... fuck. We - and I mean WE, dammit - were complicit in compounding their pain, which must have already been unimaginable.

I need to move to the couch, play with my kitty, and catch up on the breaking news. Besides, the MC-1 is hitting me kind of hard.

it's "au naturel" dagnabit

I don't know how I got on this mailing list. I don't know who goes to these things. I doubt that I will find out, since I have nightmare-quality visions of what "three hours of quality male bonding" might be. The pictures they attach to the emails are always very hot - but they're of models and porn stars in California, not here, so I don't really see the point.

Some highlights, so to speak:


MEN BONDING.............

3. MEN EXPLORING..........

Just Rapture the Bitches Already: Notes from the end times chat

Say a man catches a bullet through his skull in somebody's war, so where's the beginning of that? You might say that's easy. That little moment has its start the day our hero goes marching off to fight with his new soldier friends, all clever and smirking and waving at the girls. But does it, though? Why not the moment he first takes the schilling, his mouth hanging wide open like a harvest frog as he listens to the sergeant's flatterings? Or how about that bright sunny morning when he's just turned six and sees soldiers striding down the street, fierce and jangling? But then why not go right back, all the way, to that long, still night when a little baby is born, staring and new, with tiniest little hands? Hands you'd never think would grow strong enough one day to lift a heavy gun, and put a bullet through our poor dead friend's brain. - The opening of Matthew Kneale's English Passengers

I finished reading this amazing book last week. One of the subplots involves the Reverend Geoffrey Wilson, who becomes convinced that the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were located in Tasmania and that the original Garden of Eden could be found at their source - and who leads a tragically delusional expedition to find it.

The novel was a mix of comedy [Manx sailors using the Reverend as a screen for smuggling ] and the horrific [the methodical extermination of the aborigines]. Some of the incidents seemed too incredible to be believed - using native women as sex slaves, the Black Line, and the collecting of indigenous body parts - but I looked them up afterwards and even the most shocking scenes were based on historical incidents.

But surely the Revered was purely fictional, I thought. No one could be so delusional. His theory of 'divine refrigeration' would give even a Scientologist pause.

Or so I thought, before I stumbled upon Rapture Ready - The End Times Chat. The bombing of Lebanon has made the rapture crowd downright ecstatic, and with logic as sickening and twisted as anything the 19th Century produced. Read on. These are all lifted verbatim from the Rapture Ready message board:
* * *

Praise God! We are chosen to be in these times and also watch and spread the word. Something inside me is exploding to get out, and I don't know what it is. Its kind of like I want to do cartwheels around the neighborhood.

A question just popped in my head. Do you think children of around say 7 or 8 (but before the age of accountability) that have been indoctrinated up until that time by their parents religious beliefs will be raptured? . . . For example, would a 7 year old muslim be raptured? I know G-d will do right but I was just wondering everyone's thoughts. I hate to think of kids being left here.

Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me.

This is the busiest I've ever seen this website in a few years! I have been having rapture dreams and I can't believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whoa! I can sure feel the glory bumps after reading this thread!

I too am soooo excited!! I get goose bumps, literally, when I watch what's going on in the M.E.!! And Watcherboy, you were so right when saying it was quite a day yesterday, in the world news, and I add in local news here in the Boston area!! Tunnel ceiling collapsed on a car and killed a woman of faith, and we had the most terrifying storms I have ever seen here!! But, yes, oh happy day, like in your screen name , it is most indeed a time to be happy and excited, right there with ya!!

As time winds down, we will be seeing things happen faster, and faster. This is so exciting to watch prophecy, happening right before our eyes!!!!


(BTW...I personally believe that the rapture may be cloaked by nukes going off in the ME...like the world will shake and the leaders will say, "Now look what happened...the atoms freaked out and millions vanished when those nukes went off..." I think it's plausable)

All that being said:

1. This is the turmoil after Israel was living in peace. I know, the fence seem to contradict this but the fence seemed so insignificant and small from my viewpoint.
2. This conflict will continue to escalate with Israel bombing Syria because of their involvement. Don't know how they will be involved but it could be as simple as rearming Hezbollah.
3. Iran will then warn Israel again that they're about to be annihilated
4. The Rapture occurs. When all Christians are removed, think of the military and police that will be taken away too. I also believe that the "salt" being removed also means men won't have any restraint at all.
5. No Christians=no support for Israel. There will be some on Capitol Hill that realize what happened (the Rapture) and try to illicit support for Israel but worldwide there will be a call for the removal of Israel.
6. Gog/Magog
7. You know what 7 signifies in the bible. The number of completion.

Also the Muslims belive in Gog Magog too, but they believe a twisted version where they prevail.

With all of the publicity this site is getting right now we must all (including me) watch our words carefully. Our Christian witness (or lack thereof) might make the difference with someone coming here for answers. Please everyone double and triple check what you wrote before hitting that submit button and think about an unsaved person reading what you just wrote. And please pray to Jesus to open hearts to His message of salvation. We have such a huge opportunity here ~ and a huge responsibility.

As a member of the media , all I can say is TRUST THE BIBLE, and always be skeptical of what you read in the newspaper, see on the Internet, watch on TV or hear on the radio. Even with Christian programming, if you ever see anything that contradicts the Bible or biblical principles, then disregard it. The Bible has to be the final authority, because it is God's inspired, inerrant, holy and true message to humanity.

In the book of Isaiah from chapter 17 through 22- there are a few parties involved. It also mentions Jordan! Jordan is mentioned by Ammon, Edom, and Moab. This involvement is what to watch for. They will be punished as well.

Maybe this is the birth pangs Matthew was talking about, this could just be the beginning of war's and rumors of war until finally the world has had enough and is crying for someone to bring peace then we all know what happens after that. I still think Damascus will be taken before the rapture to give people one more chance to repent before the AC arrives on the scene.

Although it's kind of hard to put my thoughts into words the closer we seem to be getting towards the end the more it makes sense that the AC would be a Muslim.

If the AC is Muslim, this could explain why there will be beheadings during the end times.

I've always been bothered by the beheadings in the tribulation. It never really made sense to me that a european egalitarian government with the backing of a lukewarm church would behead anyone.

However, an Assyrian (muslim?) leader with the backing of islam? Now there I can see frequent beheadings.

Someone else mentioned in another thread that the AC will kill many with "peace".

The word Islam means "peace".

Unless things change in the PR department, no muslim would capture the hearts and minds of western society. IMHO, islam is just another tool of satan and when he done with it (i.e....when Damascus get's it and/or the Gog/Magog thing happens) he will just move on to his biggest and best fraud yet. Satan really has no desire to be worshipped as anything but the true and living God, hence the unholy trinity (Satan, AC and FP). Beheading, historically, is not confined to muslim countries, but was widely used in Europe (see attached post and link) and was used against protestants by the Catholic church in the middle ages.

The hard thing is getting a Muslim recognized as the Jewish Messiah. It seems kind of unlikely, but the Bible says that God will send a strong delusion in order that they believe - so, you never know.

The Bible tells us who the AC is and where he comes from. "The beast that thou sawest WAS and IS NOT ; and shall ascend out of the BOTTOMLESS PIT and shall go into perdition." ( Rev.17:8 ) Paul called the AC the SON OF PERDITION in IIThess.2:3. Jesus called Judas IscarIot the SON OF PERDITION in John 17:12. Acts 1:25 says, "Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to HIS OWN PLACE. So it seems to me that Judas IscarIot will be resurrected and become the AC.

A Muslim? Hmmmmmm... But we read that he will not have any attraction to women (Bill Clinton is out of the picture), and that he won't have any respect for the gods of his fathers. What would that mean for a muslim? People used to use that Daniel passage in an attempt to say the AC would be Jewish.

Does that mean that the AC will be gay since he is not attracted to women?

My personal belief is that Islam will play a significant role in firing things up for Gog and Magog war. I still have some doubts about it being the false world religion spoken of in Revelation though. I believe something far worse is in store during tribulation. I think Islam (or whats left of it later) will likely just be part of the harlot riding the beast. Pure speculation on my part however.

Where in the Bible does it ever say anything about the world worshiping a woman? The whore of Babylon is a religion, not necessarily a false goddess. As for the Catholic Church, it is the only religious infrastructure up to the task, so I don't doubt that it could easily be used to that end once all true believers are gone. What could very well happen is Islam infiltrating the empty shell of the Catholic Church, though the Catholic Church cannot be the One World Religion so long as true believers inhabit her. Somethings got to give.

The "Black Panther" in the US also is a big threat in the making. Last night on FOX Channel, they were spewing hatred against white men and Jews. What does that tell you. I am also aware of many "Black Panther" members and Quanelle X and Farakhan followers also practice Islam.

Is watching for signs of the end stealing your joy?

I have to take a break from all the bad news - it's everywhere and you don't have to look hard to find it.

While I like to know what's going on - this world has been heading towards the last days since Adam & Eve.

It's a strange thing. I get really sad about the evil and the people who are suffering, and now, I had my TV on and I couldn't sleep because of all the bad news, I felt nervous, I guess, about the airport and the airplanes! But, then, when something happens, like a biblical prophecy being fulfilled, I get really excited and happy, because it seems like we might be leaving very soon! The events are happening daily. It seems like things have really speeded up, and I remember the verse, Luke 21:28, But When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near! I can't wait!

By the way, are there any plans to keep this board running post rapture?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

11 pm update

The Tiki Bar is in full effect. Picked up all my spices at Kōkua and Down to Earth, where I ran into the owner of the new Lebanese Cafe downtown. He was picking up farina for some dessert on Thursday. Last time he made it his family ate it all before he could sell any, so tonight he's making double. I can't wait to see what it is. I'll be in line Thursday.

The Middle Eastern vibe is in full effect in my kitchen - it's full of the smells of almond, orange water, lime and pomegranate. Funny how many "Tiki" flavorings come from that part of the world. Even the cloves and allspice have an exotic air.

And I've already got early ideas for Christmas. No more cookies. If these syrups work then everyone is getting a Tiki Kit: homemade orgeat, falernum, grenadine, and pimento dram. 'Cause so far it's all looking good. The grenadine is done, the orgeat will be done soon, the falernum will take 24 hours, and the pimento dram another 4 weeks.

The only disaster was an experiment with guar gum for gomme syrup. I couldn't find gum arabica [a.k.a. gum acacia: sap from Acacia senegal], a sacchiride and glycoprotein cold water thickening agent. I did find guar gum [from India: an extract from the guar bean Cyamopsis tetragonoloba], which is a polysaccharide and cold water thickening agent. It worked, but all too well - it turned everything it touched into a super gooey gel. When I was washing the dishes some of the residue turned the wash basin into instant jello. There is some molecular mixology potential here, but for now I'm sticking with tradition.

The lady working the counter at Fukioka's told me she just hired a Samoan guy to build her a Tiki Bar in her house. I offered to bring the drinks if she hosted the party. She laughed. I'm not down yet. We'll see.

The Organic Tiki Bar

La Mariana is it, the last surviving Tiki Bar in the Pacific. You can get faux-Hawaiiana in the West Coast suburbs, and there more Trader Vic's in the Middle East than anywhere else. But here in the islands the art of the tropical cocktail is close to dead. Martinis are made with litchee and vodka, mai tais are so sweet they'll give you diabetes faster than tobacco will give you cancer, if you order a Manhattan you need to tell the bartender what goes in it, and Margaritas contain spent nuclear waste disguised as sour mix - it's a sad state of affairs, my friends.

I'm not sure when the Enlightenment ended. At the Del Rio we used to confiscate the ID's of anyone who ordered anything crass like Sex on the Beach, they refused to hire a bartender who admitted to liking Midori in his interview [and that after I had warned him not to mention green drinks], and asking for anything blended could get a customer stabbed right there at the bar.

Good times. Ain't we lucky we had 'em. Now I'm gonna do my part to fight the darkness, and I'll be starting in my own kitchen. Now that X has moved out I can actually stock a bar again. It's been years. I went to Fujioka's and Tamura's & splurged on good liquor - Cruzan Rum from the Virgin Islands, Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon, Jim Beam Rye, Brokers London Gin, and Sauza Añejo Tequila. And it's all so pretty on the shelf that I don't even want to drink it [although I'm sure I'll get over that quick enough].

But when I started picking up mixers I ran into problems. Angostura bitters are fine and easy to find. Other classic bitters were trickier, and I ended up ordering orange, peach, and mint bitters online. I could only find corn-syrup based syrups of other classic mixers [grenadine, orgeat, falernum]. Trader Vic's orgeat tasted ok in old-fashioneds and rum drinks, but I couldn't help but wonder how it compares to the original. Rose's Grenadine tasted like cough syrup, and I threw the bottle out. The Fee Brother's Falernum hasn't arrived yet, but I've heard mixed things about it.

And then the mad cook in me started coming out, and I knew what I had to do. I needed to channel the spirits of my ancestors and make my own [because while the drinks might be from Havana and New Orleans and Waikiki, I'm sure that the Irish were behind it all somehow].

So here's what's on deck for the weekend [and I'll let all five of you who read this know how it turns out] [most of the recipes come from the invaluable DrinkBoy and Cocktail Chronicles]:

This one is easy - mix together black cherries, a pint of cheap brandy, and a lot of sugar. Boil, then let cool. It makes a much better condiment than the rubber-injected maraschino cherries.

Another easy one. Option 1: Mix equal parts pomegranite juice and sugar. Shake until sugar is dissolved. Add vodka as preservative. Option 2: Boil juice, reduce by half, add sugar, cook until dissolved. Add vodka as preservative. Version 1 is supposed to be more 'sparkly,' while Version 2 [which I did] gives a nice thick rich syrup.

This one looks more involved.
  • 500 grams blanched almonds
  • 800 ml water
  • 700 grams table sugar
  • 100 ml Vodka or Brandy
  • 2 Tbls Orange or Rose Flower Water
Soak almonds in cold water for 30". Discard water.
Grind or crush almonds. Mix with water, and let stand for 1-2 hours
Strain mixture, squeezing all the water out of the almonds. Put almonds back in almond water.
Repeat one or two more times
Toss almond pulp. Put liquid in a pan, add sugar, and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
When cool add brandy and orange or flower water.

I had never even heard of falernum, a spiced almond, ginger, and lime mix from Barbados, until last week. Now, of course, I must have it.
  • 6 oz White Rum
  • zest of 9 medium limes, with no traces of white pith
  • 40 whole cloves
  • 1½ oz peeled, julienned fresh ginger
Combine these ingredients in a jar and let soak for 24 hours.

Strain through moistened cheesecloth, squeezing the solids to extract the liquid.

  • ¼ t almond extract
  • Toasted almonds [not sure how many]
  • 14 oz cold process 2:1 simple syrup
  • 4½ oz fresh, strained lime juice
I think I'll make the first part, and only add lime juice when I serve it.

Just how far down the rabbit-hole do I want to go? This is sugar syrup with gum arabic, and hasn't been seen in these parts since Somerset Maugham trailed a Miss Sadie Thompson to Pago Pago. Is it worth it? The Cocktail Chronicler's verdict: Good God. OK, granted, a trained ape could make an incredible Sazerac just by introducing the Van Winkle rye into the mix, but the gomme lent it just the right texture, so it slipped down my throat as easy as you please.

Ohter reviewers say it smooths out the classic whiskey drinks, and adds a silkiness you won't find from a simple syrup. And so down the rabbit hole I go.
  • 2 oz powdered gum arabic, food-grade
  • 2 oz water
Let the gluey mess rest for a day

Boil a 2:1 syrup [8 oz water and 4 oz sugar]. Add dissolved gum powder.

Remove from heat. Skim off the scum. Cool, strain and bottle.

This is the last one. For now. I'll be reducing this recipe quite a bit.
  • 2¼ cups 151 proof rum.
  • ½ cup whole dried allspice berries, crushed.
  • 3 cups water.
  • 1½ pounds light brown sugar
Crush the allspice berries in a mortar and place in a 1-liter jar with a rubber seal. Cover with the rum and allow to steep for at least 10 days, agitating the maceration daily.

Pour through a fine strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquor as you can, then pour the strained liquor through another strainer lined with a coffee filter.

Make a simple syrup with the water and sugar. When cool, combine with the rum maceration and allow to age for at least one month. Decant and enjoy.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Stranger with Candy

I'm following in Amy Sedaris's footsteps & going back to school - I just signed up for Spanish 1 with Kaimukī Adult Education. I'm hoping to be able to say more than quisieras dos tacos por favor and ¡soy caliente! by the time we get to Puerto Vallarta.

Mesoscale Eddies

I got to play Ask Doctor Science today at work. A caller reported that the water at Kailua Beach was up to the vegetation line, and that the beach had pretty much disappeared. He wanted to know what was going on.

The quick answer: beaches are dynamic, there is seasonal erosion and that the beach should be naturally replenished over the winter, and that Kailua Beach is accreting over the long term.

I dug around a bit more [i.e. asked Dolan and Chris, our coastal guys], and learned that we are witnessing an anti-cyclonic mesoscale eddy. In layman's terms, eddies are slow-moving 100-200 kilometer wide storms in the ocean. From the surface the one passing over O`ahu appears to be a 60-cm high hill of warmer water.

The Naval Research Laboratory has some great animations on the eddies.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cease Fire Campaign

Thanks Michael,

I am in physiological hell here... Also please add this link to your website, if
you dont mind:

Cease Fire Campaign



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Junkies of War

Abbas, a friend in New York, has fourteen immediate family members in Lebanon. For him, this war is all too real, and he's been sending out updates about the conflict. This one came from Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace activist group.

This war has confused me more than most. Hizbollah is a threat to peace. And Beirut offered a hope for peace. Lebanon was a bright spot in the Middle East, a liberal democracy, an example of what most of us were hoping for. I couldn't understand why Israel would attempt to destroy it.

This article adds some perspective. Olmert is another Bush, a man with a lot of bombs and limited vision. Twenty years ago the threat to peace came from socialist dictatorships on one side and right-wing death squads on the other. Now it's between religious fundamentalists and small-minded politicians with big armies.

Junkies of War
Uri Avnery

FOR ME it was a moment of shocking revelation.

I was listening to one of the daily speeches of our Prime Minister. He said: "We are a wonderful people!" He said: We have already won this war, it is the greatest victory in the history of our state. He said: We have changed the face of the Middle East. And more to that effect.

Well, I told myself, that's Olmert.

I have known him since he was 20-something. At that time, I was a member of the Knesset, and Olmert was the book-carrier (literally) of another member. Since then I have followed his career. He has never been anything but a party functionary, a small-time politician specializing in manipulations, a run-of-the-mill demagogue. On the way changed parties several times and served as a mayor with a grade of D minus, until he climbed on the bandwagon of Ariel Sharon. More or less by accident he was given the empty title of "Deputy Prime Minister", and when Sharon suffered his stroke, something happened that took Olmert too by surprise: he became Prime Minister.

Throughout his career he has remained a complete cynic, basically a right-winger but willing to pretend to be a liberal when faced with leftists.

So, I told myself, this is just another cynical speech. But suddenly a ghastly thought struck me: No, the man believes what he is saying!

Hard as it is to imagine, it seems that Olmert really believes that this is a successful war. That he is winning. That he has radically changed Israel's situation. That he is building a New Middle East. That he is a historic leader, far superior to Ariel Sharon (who, after all, was beaten in Lebanon and who allowed Hizbullah to build up its arsenal of rockets). That the longer he is allowed to go on with the war, the more his stature in history will grow.

Ehud Olmert has obviously cut himself off from reality. He lives in a bubble all by himself. His speeches show that he has a very real problem.

Of all the dangers facing Israel now, this is the most severe. Because this man is deciding, quite simply, the fate of millions: who will die, who will become a refugee, whose world will be shattered.

BUT OLMERT'S problem with megalomania is nothing compared to what has happened to Amir Peretz.

Exactly nine months ago, after his election as Labor Party chairman, Peretz made a speech in Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square in which he revealed his dream: that in the no-man's land between Israel and the Gaza Strip a football field will be built, and a match between the Israeli children of Sderot and the Palestinian children of nearby Bet-Hanoun will take place. An Israeli Martin Luther King.

Nine month's later, a monster has been born to us.

In the Knesset election campaign, Peretz appeared as a social revolutionary. He announced that he would change the face of Israeli society, set new national priorities, cut billions from the military budget and transfer them to education, welfare and measure to reduce the glaring gap between rich and poor. As a veteran peace-lover, he would, of course, achieve peace with the Palestinians and the entire Arab world.

This won him the votes of many citizens, including many who would normally never consider voting for the Labor Party.

What followed is history. He seduced himself, when Olmert offered him the Ministry of Defense. That was still Olmert the cynic. He knew, as we all did, that Peretz was walking into a trap, that as a rank civilian without serious military experience he would be easy prey for the generals. But Peretz did not shrink back. The supreme aim of his life is to become Prime Minister, and in order to become a credible candidate he believed that he must present himself as a security expert.

Since then, Peretz has become a rabid warmonger. Not only does he endorse all the demands of the generals, not only does he act as their spokesman - he has also helped to push Israel into war, and since then he has been demanding that it should continue, enlarge, widen, kill more, destroy more, occupy more. He himself declared, "Nasrallah will never forget the name Amir Peretz!" - like a spoilt child inscribing his name on a tourist attraction.

At the moment, he is trying to be more extreme even than Olmert. While the Prime Minister is afraid of continuing to advance, fearing that too many casualties from the rockets and the battle on the ground might cloud the brilliance of his victory, Peretz wants to reach the Litani River, whatever the cost. There's no other way - if one wants to become Prime Minister, one has to walk over dead bodies.

Thus a monster has been born to us. Rosemary's Baby.

TODAY, THE 25th day of the war, we can draw up an interim balance. What were the aims? What are the results?

"To destroy Hizbullah".

Who would have believed it, but on the 25th day Hizbullah is still standing and fighting. A few thousand fighters against the fifth strongest army in the world. Nobody speaks anymore about eliminating it. Not Olmert, not Peretz, not even Dan Halutz - the third corner of this unholy triangle.

"To weaken Hizbullah".

That is a watered down version of the first aim. It is more convenient, because it cannot be measured. After all, in any war both sides are weakened. People are killed and wounded, arms are destroyed, installations demolished. But while the Israeli army can mobilize another division and another one, and the Americans are rushing more bombs to us, can Hizbullah absorb such losses?

Nobody knows how many fighters the organization has lost. The Israeli army distributes estimates, without being able to prove them. The Lebanese speak about far smaller numbers, and do not have any proof either.

But that is not the main thing. An organization like Hizbullah has no problem in raising more and more volunteers for "holy war". Be their losses as they may, after the war the organization will train as many new fighters as necessary. Their arsenals will also be replenished with new weapons arriving from Iran and Syria. The border is long, it is impossible to seal it.

"To push Hizbullah away from the border".**

That is the crumpled aim, after the two preceding ones were shown to be unattainable. It, too, has not been realized yet, and never will be, because it is also unattainable. Most Hizbullah fighters are local boys of the South Lebanese towns and villages. They will continue to be there, overtly or covertly. No international force can prevent that, and certainly not the Lebanese Army.

The rockets can be moved further away. How many kilometers? Ten? Twenty? That will not remove the threat from Nahariya, Haifa and Tel-Aviv - especially since the range of the missiles is bound to grow with time, when technologically more advanced types arrive.

"To kill Hassan Nasrallah".

For the time being, so it seems, the report of his death was an exaggeration, to quote Mark Twain. True, in a kind of parody of the Entebbe exploit, Nasrallah was pulled out of a hospital in Baalbek, but it was another Hassan Nasrallah. Oops.

In the meantime, the original Nasrallah is flourishing. Compared to the kitschy speeches of Olmert, with their endless clichés and the fist thumping on the table, the Hizbullah leader comes over as a sober speaker, measured and mostly quite credible.

"To return to the Israeli army the power of deterrence".

Nobody has any doubt that the Israeli army is a good, professional army, capable of defeating regular armies. But this war proves that it is not capable of achieving a military decision against an able guerilla organization with determined fighters. If Hizbullah is alive and kicking after 25 days, the deterrence power of the Israeli army has been weakened - whatever happens from now on.

From this point of view, the war has harmed the security of Israel. It has proved that the Israeli rear is exposed, that the Hizbullah fighters are not inferior to the Israeli soldiers, that there is no de-luxe war, that the Air Force cannot win without land forces. Not even in ideal circumstances, when the other side has no anti-air defense to speak of.

Some comfort themselves with the thought that "the Arabs have seen that we are crazy". We react to a small local provocation with an orgy of killing and destruction, destroying whole countries, a sort of national amok. But running amok is not a policy. It does not solve any problem. It is an uncontrollable reflex. It does not allow for straight thinking. It even allows the other side to manipulate us with premeditated provocations.

"Deploying an International Force along the border".

That is a kind of emergency exit, after all the other aims have gone up in smoke.

At the beginning of the war, Olmert himself strenuously objected to such a force, because it would restrict the freedom of action of the Israeli army. Clearly, no international force will dare to come, unless there is a cease-fire in place and an agreement with Hizbullah has been reached. Nobody wants to be exposed to cross-fire. Therefore, this force will also have to serve Hisbullah's interests, for fear of a guerilla war starting against it. Have all the sacrifices been made for this?

"We shall create a new situation in the Middle East".

This aim has indeed been achieved - but not the way Olmert told himself (and us).

The long-range results of the war are not immediately obvious. They belong to the category defined by Bismarck as "imponderables" - things that cannot be measured.

Every day on their TV screens tens of millions of Arabs and hundred of millions of Muslims see the atrocious pictures of crushed babies, the sights of the horrible destruction. These are deeply imprinted in the consciousness of the masses and will leave behind them an accumulation of anger and hatred that is far more dangerous than an arsenal of missiles. In these 25 days, thousands of new suicide bombers have been created. And as the stature of Nasrallah as the hero of the Arab world increases, so the respect for the "moderate" Arab regimes hit new lows - the very regimes that the US and Israel rely on for creating the New Middle East.

AFTER THE 25th day, the 26th will arrive, and so on and on. President Bush, who pushed us into this war to start with, is now pushing us to fight on ("Until the last Israeli soldier," as the saying goes.) Like Olmert, he lives in an imaginary world.

Bush, Olmert and their like can incite and draw the masses behind them, until the call of "the Emperor is naked" finds receptive ears.

One of the most sickening sights of the war is the picture of the international diplomats doing everything they can to enable Olmert & Co. to go on with the war. The UN has long since become an agent of the White House. Hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness are having a field day, while lives are being destroyed and the dead buried on both sides of the border.

Olmert wants to "gain" as many days as possible for continued fighting. What sort of gain is this? We are conquering South Lebanon as flies conquer fly-paper. Generals present maps with impressive arrows to show how Hizbullah is being pushed north. That might be convincing - if we were talking about a front-line in a war with a regular army, as taught in Staff College. But this is a different war altogether. In the conquered area, Hizbullah people remain, and our soldiers are exposed to attacks of the kind in which Hizbullah has excelled from its first day.

So we shall get to the Litani River. Beyond it, there is another river, and another one. Lebanon has an abundance of rivers we can get to.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for these two junkies, Olmert and Peretz, to come down from their "high" and study the map.

Distant Lands

About once or twice a year I decide that I've had it with Hawai`i, that I need to be somewhere more exciting - and somewhere with more dating potential [because the supply of employed single 40-something gay men here is limited to non-existent]. I couldn't do anything about moving while I was still working on my thesis, but I finished that two years ago. Then I took a state job, and I figured I'd give the islands five more years [until I'm vested] and then move on.

The urge to move on usually passes. I'll spend a nice weekend surfing, or head to the clubs and run into good friends I've made over the past decade, and I'll realize that I won't have this in San Francisco, or New York, or London. And I'll settle down, and decide that Honolulu isn't so bad after all.

But this summer it's been hitting hard. I even tried to get in touch with UV and Kevin about jobs in Baghdad. I spent a day googling State and UN jobs - although there wasn't much that interested me. This weekend I calmed down a bit. Did First Friday with David, and had a nice time. Wasted Saturday doing nothing. Had a great surf session Sunday evening, and spent the rest of the night at Hula's with the usual gang. And I decided that the islands weren't so bad, and that I could survive a few more years.

So I went back to fantasizing about travel, rather than packing up and moving. I'm heading to Guadalajara with Hollis in November, and then meeting up with a whole gang for five days in Puerto Vallarta. And if I plan right I'm hoping to spend three weeks in Egypt and Jordan the year after.

But David just sent a link to Relief Web, a listing of postings with international humanitarian agencies. And I qualify for a good chunk of them. I'll take a deeper look tonight ... but this really might be my last season here. I'd like to stay through April & follow through with my commitments to the Volcano benefit ... but I'm not going to pass up any opportunities I find.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Last Days

Roy should move out today. He says he has a place. He ways he's moving out today. But I've heard that before. It better be today. I'll fucking snap if it isn't. We haven't talked since Friday morning, when he couldn't understand that I would be angry for him being loud and drunk [or high, hell if I can tell anymore] the night before.

He needs to go. He just needs to fucking go. Half my friends are telling me to just pack his shit up already and put it on the curb. That's wrong on so many levels, and I'm in shock that it might actually come down to that. But the boy doesn't seem to understand you need to go. It's simple and direct. There is no ambiguity in the statement.