Wednesday, August 29, 2007

15 Pics of Rum

Day was still young as we rode between two great pikes of sandstone to the foot of a long, soft slope poured down from the domed hills in front of us. It was tamarisk-covered: the beginning of the Valley of Rumm, they said ... Our little caravan grew self-conscious, and fell dead quiet, afraid and ashamed to flaunt its smallness in the presence of these stupendous hills.

Landscapes, in childhood's dreams, were so vast and silent. We looked backward through our memory for the prototype up which all men had walked between such walls toward such an open square as that in front where this road seemed to end.

Later, when we were often riding inland, my mind used to turn me from the direct road, to clear my senses by a night in Rumm and by the ride down its dawn-lit valley towards the shining plains, or up its valley in the sunset towards that glowing square which my timid anticipation never let me reach. I would say, Shall I ride this time, beyond the Khazail, and know it all? But in truth I liked Rumm too much.

T.E. Lawrence. Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Eli, our fifteen-year old guide, bridles his camel. We found him through Aodeh al Zlapeh.
This is where the road ends.
Billy has pictures of me, I have pictures of Billy. One day we'll have to swap.
Eli takes the lead.
Nabatean petroglyphs
It's not really as hot as it looks. A siq, or cleft, in the cliffs.This was my baby!
A Bedu camp near ours.
Prepping the camels the second afternoon.
Eli's father takes a siesta.
The camel takes a siesta.
Sunset by Gebel Rum.
The colors of Rum never stop shifting and changing.

I'll post the complete set on photobucket soon. My camera busted during a dust storm in the desert (and no, I'm still not tired of saying that), so these kind of get fuzzy towards the end.

Sexual Identity

The discussion on the last post has been great (which is a relief - the forums over the past couple weeks have been overwhelmed by fighting queens). My favorite comes from eagledancer4444. I don't know who he is, but I love the way he writes and thinks. Brah, if you're ever in Hawai`i, dinner is on me.

I was involved pretty much from the start with HIV/AIDS…in fact two of my first patients were diagnosed with “GRID,” the term that was being used before AIDS was coined. I worked with a few national (and later international) prevention and treatment projects, and presented on multicultural aspects of sexuality as well as gender identity. To my surprise, after my first presentations, I would have a few participants who came up to me, who said, I never really felt I was gay, but I didn’t know of any other place to go than the gay community.

I remember very well some of the quite bitter “fights” that were going on at that time. M2M or MSM were suggested because one of the most difficult subgroups of the population to reach are men who are sexually active with men, but don’t identify as gay, since they won’t pick up gay newspapers (lol—they won’t pick up anything labeled as “gay” other than a gay man), or hit gay bars where condoms and prevention material would be available. This was one of the motivations for the creation of such terminology, along with “bisexual behavior,” even if there was no self-identification with bisexuality as an identity.

There is, for many, an “evolution” or developmental journey (i.e. the Cass Model) where one starts off knowing one is “different,” but not really knowing all that means, other than a general message “different is bad.” I suspect a lot of you didn’t shout out your sexual orientation while in high school but “tried it on for size” so to speak, until you were comfortable with it. That’s why at the University where I was teaching, there was a student support group entitled, I don’t think I’m gay, but I know I’m not straight… To walk into a support group labeled GBTLQ means you’ve already accepted a label. Not everyone is there yet. One of the real “sea changes,” we’re seeing is an increasingly younger average age for coming out, which according to a 2001 publication, is now 15. I feel there’s a “generational” issue here of people like Craig, who became sexually active pre-internet (and pre-feminist, for that matter), where sexual initiation involved very specific, male only situations, such as rest rooms.

As I mentioned, I was surprised at the hostility I (and others) faced when we tried to explain to other researchers and prevention specialists, “gay” was not sufficient as a category in working within the “real world.” Many of the most vocal opponents were white gay men who had become active in the 1970s, for whom gay was a strived for identity that wasn’t just about the gender of a sexual partner, but also included self-esteem, status, and a way of confronting earlier shame, both internal and societal. Any suggestion of expanding the categories of outreach were met with accusations of “denial,” and internalized homophobia about not being able to “accept” the “true” identity of being gay.

As someone who teaches cross-cultural sexuality, this response was frustrating (and very ethnocentric), but I also felt M2M or MSM was also too limiting. In a number of cultures, there’s a concept of more than 2 genders, so asking a man, Have you ever had sex with another man? (MSM)—will not work well if the man being asked has had sex with someone his community does not identify as a “man.” In one article on Latino sexuality, the author suggested the answer would differ if you asked, Have you ever had sex with a man who was not a man? A soft man? A man who was a woman?

The question determines the answer. In a study with African-American males in L.A., when asked if they had ever had sex with another man, the answer across the board was “No.” But when the same men were asked, When was the last time you popped a sissy?” the response was very different.

Which, of course, leads us back to the actual definition of “sex.” When President Clinton said, I did not have sexual relations with that woman, we had done a research project with mid-western adults before the Clinton incident. The majority of those interviewed would have agreed with Clinton. They did not identify oral sex as “real sex.” Only penile/vaginal penetration was understood as “real sex.” This is why a few years ago, about one fourth of 10,000 adolescent females responding to an interview had engaged in oral sex, but nearly 80 percent of them considered themselves to be virgins. One of the reasons it’s so hard to reach the married men at rest rooms and public parks doing the MSM thing, is the reality they don’t classify what they are doing is “cheating” because it would only be “cheating” if they were “doing it” with a woman, and the belief what they are doing isn’t “real sex,” because the only “real sex” involves a penis and a vagina.

Simply dismissing this as “denial” on the part of the individual doesn’t make effective impact on HIV (or other STDs) from a public health level. It also doesn’t recognize other cultures may use different categories. For example, in some non-Western cultures, the gender of your partner has no bearing on your sexual orientation. As long as you are in the “active” or “insertive” role, you (and your community) will still recognize you as heterosexual. This was the hardest thing to get across to people around a discussion table…if you’re not from that community, frankly “you don’t get to vote.” You can tell them they are “wrong, bad, stupid or crazy” to think the way they do, but frankly, they’re used to being told that from the American Dominant Culture. A direct attack tends to make them hold even more tightly to their established belief system.

By the way—this is the reason reporters hate interviewing a lot of researchers and scientists who don’t provide “neat” sound bites. Asking if Craig or the others are “really gay,” doesn’t encourage an easy answer, because there isn’t a consensus of what “gay” means. Even Freud referred to “homosexualities.” I think it’s obvious that Craig and his brethren are in some sort of different classification than people who’ve posted on this topic who themselves identify as gay or queer, if nothing other than a category of “gay-impaired.”

The End of the Culture Wars?

There've been some great discussions lately on Queerty about the recent rash of Cultural Warriors getting busted for getting it on. A few are even suggesting that this might mark the end of both the cultural wars and the artificial duality we've insisted on in the West between gay and straight.

Selections from their original article:
During his post-scandal statement yesterday, Senator Larry Craig gave the media a perfect soundbyte, I am not gay. I have never been gay. No doubt news heads have heard those nine words countless of times since yesterday afternoon. No doubt you will hear them again.

I am not gay. I have never been gay. Those nine words will be etched as hard and as deep as former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey’s famous five: I am a gay American.

Craig’s nine words will define the end of his culture warrior career. And for once he may not by lying. And, by some twist of political fate, Craig may be helping so-called “sexual deviants”.

Over an hour before Craig blasted the Idaho Newstatesman and again pleaded his heterosexuality, CNN’s Kyra Phillips interviewed Atlanta police Major Darryl Tolleson. An Atlanta Major, Tolleson’s arrested more the forty men fishing for sex in Atlanta’s famously cruisey airport.

During her chat with Tolleso, Phillips touched upon an issue that’s starting to be raised more and more: are public sex “offenders” necessarily gay. The gay media - including ourselves - have played up Craig’s alleged queerness. In fact, the gay media - namely: Mike Rogers - started the ball rolling on this case. Craig’s case, however, is not implicitly “gay”. It’s queer, to be sure, but not necessarily “gay”.

Of the the forty men Tolleso has arrested, he says, the majority are family men. We posted the video and transcript earlier, but here’s the money quote:

…A good majority of these men do have families. And that’s been a little bit shocking to us. You would think that it would be more of a gay issue. But overwhelmingly more and more we’re seeing that these are people with families.

Some of those arrested may qualify as closeted queers, but it’s certainly likely not all of them are motivated solely by shame. They may have sex with men, but it doesn’t make these men “gay”.


Our carnal comprehension comes from the laboratory, not the bedroom or the battle field. For years newspapers and medical papers referred to gays as “homosexuals”. Jim Naugle aside, the term’s fallen out of politically correct behavior. It’s archaic, yes, but still speaks volumes about how Americans - and other Western nationals - deal with men who have sex with men.

To completely understand “down-low” men, Westerners have adopted a definitively indefinite definition. We’ve coined a collection of six words: “Men Who Have Sex With Men”. The term first appeared in the early 1990s, particularly as a way to address HIV infections among men who don’t identify as “homosexual”. That population’s long been closeted - and not in a gay way.

Yes, Oprah has specials on such men, health workers use it daily, politicos use it delicately, but MSM - not to be confused with mainstream media - remain largely unexamined. Larry Craig, however, may change all that.

Last night, at 9pm, about 4-and-a-half hours after Craig’s delivered those already infamous nine words, anther Larry, Larry King, hosted a panel to discuss the political and cultural ramifications of the scandal. Among his guests, King welcomed sexpert Dr. Drew Pinsky. During the course of their conversation, Pinsky brought up MSM, saying:

There is a separate category, which is men who have sex with men. And so people can genuinely get up and say I’m not gay but I’m still one of these people that have sex with men.

The distinction came up on a number of other shows. By raising awareness of MSM, Craig’s inadvertently dismantling America’s tenacious sexual distinctions. Gay and straight no longer exist. We’ve got a new, clinical sexual class. The scientific rationale used to oppress gays will now help them by expanding our nation’s homo horizons.

Our clinical culture, our culture which operates within doctor-approved boundaries, created an entirely new sexual category. With more exposure, MSM may pave actually help break down the sexual binarism. If more people understand - and, more importantly, accept - that some men have sex with men, for whatever reason, America may be freed of limiting labels. The political implications are innumerable.

Sexuality, which has been used as a political tool, becomes impotent when citizens and gadflies finally realize they’ve been going about the “Culture Wars” all wrong. It’s never been black-and-white. Sexuality can be colorful, but it’s primarily gray. Even if Americans don’t come to accept - or even understand - MSM, Cultural Warrior Craig’s nine words nailed the Culture War coffin closed.

Craig belonged to a political elite so fascinated by sexual policing, they built an entire platform around the subject. For decades the Moral Majority, Christian Voice and other “Values” voting groups have shaped the Republican agenda. Over the last year, however, that party’s been rocked by a number of sex scandals, including four “gay-tinged” tales.

We’ve got Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Bob Allen and Larry Craig: all men who based their political careers on family values, values the national party - and its members - embraced. These people found political salvation through sexual segregation. As The Nation’s Richard Kim wrote in his Craig-related piece:

[This anti-gay GOP culture led] Bob Allen to the stunning and revealing calculation that it would be better to be seen in the public eye as an avowed racist than as someone who likes to have sex with men sometimes.

Voters will not stand for hypocrisy. Nor should they. As Craig deals with the personal fall out of his folly, the Republican party will have no choice but to - cough, cough - change course.

Famed political analyst James Carville, who also appeared on last night’s Larry King, had this to say about the Craig ramifications:

I hope the good that comes out of this is that everybody calls a truce in this stupid culture war and goes to talking about things that really matter and leave these people alone.

Carville and Republican strategist Michelle Laxalt both lamented the moralists take over of the Republican party, a party which once respected individual liberty - though not necessarily “lifestyles”. With Craig and others’ respective fuck-ups, the Culture Warriors have no choice but to retreat.

Their pride, shame and arrogance smothered the fire they started.

People Suck

This has been my week at work:
  • Rich people arguing with me that they should be exempt from zoning & be allowed to build the biggest house they possible can; and
  • Rich people who want to stop their neighbors from building the same.
In other words: I want my McMansion, but I don't want any McMansions near me.

They're not even subtle about it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We did better than I thought!


Hui Nalu

40 Masters
40 Masters
Team Bradley
50 Masters
4 Team Bradley
55 Masters
5 kailua 40
40 Masters
6 Kailua 50
50 Masters
7 Hui Nalu
40 Masters
8 Lokahi
40 Masters
9 Kailua
60 Masters
10 Lanikai 55
55 Masters
11 Honolulu Pearl
40 Masters
12 Kamamalahoe
50 Masters
13 Hui Nalu
14 Anuenue
60 Masters
15 Waikiki yacht Club - Orange
40 Masters
16 Waimanalo
40 Masters
17 Waimanalo
18 Kalihi Kai
40 Masters
19 New Hope
40 Masters
20 New Hope
55 Masters
21 Lanikai
40 Masters
22 New Hope
50 Masters
23 Windward Kai 1
18 & under
Windward Kai 2
18 & under

20 Pics from Paris

I finally uploaded my Paris photos to Photobucket. There are 96, so this is just a sample. They also uploaded pretty randomly, and I'm too lazy at this point to organize them. Most of my pics are from the Louvre. The museum blew me away - it alone was worth the price of the trip to Paris.

Too bad I didn't take notes. I was overwhelmed by all the beauty and history, but damn if precious little stuck beyond a lingering sense of awe.

So ... this might be Zeus. I think he's Zeus. I'm not sure who the kid with wings is.
I loved the French Neoclassical painters. I had never even heard of most of them before this morning. This a detail from La Mort de la Femme de Darius.
The Seine at night.
On my last day I stumbled upon anti-Sarkozy protesters setting up a barricade. I joined them, and catch myself humming tunes from Les Miserables.
Spring hadn't quite arrived at Versailles yet.
An ancient Isis, looking quite modern.
And mummy-cats!
A very life-like Etruscan sarcophagus.
Hercules and some other kid.
A carousel in the Jardin des Tuileries.
The Jardin in the rain.
Winged Victory. Most of the Louvre was not crowded, but there were thousands of tourists with Da Vinci Code Guidebooks streaming like ants past The Five Things You Must See in the Louvre (Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, La Jaconda / Mona Lisa, and fuck if I know what else). I hated them. The ants, that is.
Entry to Mesopotamia.
Theseus takes on the Minotaur.
After 20-some hours in flight, I arrived in my 30-euro cubicle.
Outside Notre Dame. I never went in, cause the line was too longMy first march! The Simone de Beauvoir Society lets us know that le machisme tue tous les jours. Machismo kills!
My friendly neighborhood crepe makers. They were very nice and always pretended to understand my French. They never once scowled or made me repeat my order in English. But then again, jambon et fromage, s`il vous plait isn't that hard to get right.
Fashion mixes with politics.

Next up: Jordan!

Iron Saturday

We raced the Kailua Bay Men's Iron Challenge yesterday. I was put in the Master's crew, which meant we only had to do the "short course" of 9.5 miles. Thank god for that, 'cause I was barely moving at the end of our race, and the extra four miles that the Open crews did might have killed me. Eli, stroking for the open crew was in bad shape when he finished.

Our line up: Rudy, Kapena, Aweaua, MC, Scott, Ramos. We came in 14 out of maybe 20 - the results aren't up yet. I think we must have started near the rear of the pack, and were battling to not be last at the first turn. We passed New Hope at Mōkōlea / Birdshit Island, and one or two other canoes on the way to the Mokuluas. Ramos took us on a great wave in between the islands. Afterwards was when I lost steam. I thought it was a straight line home after that, but we had to circle around the other island. Fine. I thought, maybe we'd catch another wave through ... but nope ... then we had to paddle back to sea and come around another buoy. Then home.

And by then I was beat. We were inching up on ʻĀnuenue, but they caught enough little waves to stay a few canoes ahead.

Went home, had a drink, and went comatose.

Met up with Michael R & his boyfriend, Bernard, from Sydney that evening. It was good to see Michael again - it's been years. They were on cocktail # ? at the Royal Hawaiian. I joined them for one, then had a second at the Surfrider, then we went to dinner at Holokai Grill on Beachwalk.

The grill was below-average Hawaiian fusion, but at double the price of other places in town. The ribs were nice and fatty, while the "huliyaki" chicken was dry and bland. They were served atop some kind of mushy "sweet potato fries." The plate-lunch trucks downtown put out better food. The pupu platter was nice, but very small. Overall:skip it. Only the drinks were good.

We'd had a couple drinks in coconuts, so were feeling pretty good. I took them to Fusion's for the drag show. It was tired, as usual. If anything, it was more tired than normal. We tried to hang around for the strip show, but got bored & so moved on. Angles wasn't happening yet, the drinks were hitting hard, and so we called it a night.

I dropped by Hula's on the way to the car, and it had a good crowd. I should have arm-twisted the Aussies into going there. Ah well. I saw X, who needs money. Everyone needs money these days. I told him I'd help him out, but then he took off to try to pick up somebody & I wasn't about to wait around.

Money money money. I helped Emily out with funds this month too. She started calling the next day asking if she and her boyfriend could stay at my place, not a lot, just a few nights, because they're tired of staying where they're at.

I choked and made up a story about having lots of friends already staying here and there's no room Because: no no no no no. I couldn't handle having them here. I'd snap. I'd have a complete breakdown. It wouldn't be for a few days. It would be from now until the day I murdered them. And now I'm wondering if she's not homeless, if the place she stays in in Kaka`ako isn't the homeless shelter.

She calls five or six times a day. I don't pick up the phone. Sure I feel like a shit. But I just can't do it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Surfing for Peace

86 year-old Dr. Dorian Paskowitz donates 12 surf boards to surfers in the Gaza strip in a bid to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

From various sources on the internet: Dr. Paskowtiz was raised Jewish, but found his spirituality in Hawai`i. He learned to surf during the Depression in Galveston. His family later moved to Southern California, where he road a massive wooden board dating from 1915. He went to school in San Diego, Honolulu, and Stanford; joined the military when Pearl Harbor was bombed; and took his doctorate from Stanford in 1946.

He went to Israel to join the army during the 1956 Egypt/Israeli war, but was turned down. He went to Tel Aviv and surfed instead. He is credited with introducing the sport to Israeli, with Haaretz calling him a Jewish surfing guru.

He spent the next fifty years as a family doctor, and the past 35 as a "missionary doctor" who rarely charged for his services. He and his family of eleven spent many of those years in Hawai`i. From the St. Petersburg Times:

I consider myself a religious man, but I have nothing to do with religion, said Paskowitz, who is Jewish. I don't go to a synagogue, but I pray every day, several times a day, in fact. I put on the tfillin, the phylacteries of the ancient Orthodox Jews, but I have no truck with that stuff.

Paskowitz said that through the sea, surfing and his relationship with the people of Hawaii, he forged his spiritual beliefs.

I talk to God personally, he said. I don't want to sound like a kook, but I get out on my surf board and sit alone atop the deep blue sea and look around and just give thanks for being part of God's great world.

Gaza is rumored to have some of the world's best surf. It was popular with Israeli surfers prior to the 2005 withdrawl from the strip. Paskowitz decided to donate the boards after reading how a pair of Palestinian surfers couldn't enjoy the waves together as they only had one board between them.

This his mitzvah, part of a larger "Surfing for Peace" campaign aimed at bringing Middle Eastern surfers closer together. Paskowitz is hoping to hold a joint Israeli/Palestinian event in October, and Kelly Slater (who is of Syrian descent) is expected to attend. Paskowitz calls this mission a mitzvah

I couldn't find much more on-line, but I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open.

More links:
God will surf with the devil if the waves are good.
Paskowtiz, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Victory at Sea

Final results: We placed 39 out of 42 canoes, with ten other canoes not accounted for. I'm not sure if they dq'd, didn't finish, or withdrew before the race started. For sure, though, we finished ahead of three canoes from New Hope Paddling Ministries. So, we're not last, and - though New Hope guys are always gentlemen, it's still fun to say - We beat Teams Jesus!

The Advertiser confirmed that conditions were rough this year. From the steersman of Outrigger's winning team (at 3:01!): It was victory at sea the whole way. It was just crazy. The roughest I've ever seen it in a long time.

I'm glad that it wasn't just us!

Next up: Henry Ayau in mid-September. It's a longer race, from Hawai`i Kai to Nanakuli. The coaches have already let us know that we need to ramp up the conditioning even more to get ready for that one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Duke Race

The race was pretty amazing in the end. Chris, Lance, and I were the novices in our boat; Mike W, Ray, Rodney, and Yamada the experienced paddlers. Brian and Nestor, two guys form Kane`ohe, joined us to round out the crew.

This was our first distance race.

We paddled in thirty minute shifts, with fifteen minute breaks on the escort boat.

First segment - Kailua to Lanikai (roughly). Seat 4. We had a good start, and I was feeling pretty strong and solid. Almost like I could do it all day. The A-List boats shot ahead, but there was still a scattering of boats behind us & we were within reach of most other boats. I could've stayed in when Roz called the change.

Escort Boat - I can't believe how good I'm feeling. Jitters and nerves are gone, and now it's nothing but fun. Our training has paid off!

Second Segment - Waimanalo. Seat 4. Now the seas started getting big! I was having a great time. I still wasn't tired, our boat was keeping up a good pace, and it was fun being in big water. The waves were crashing on us, our ama was popping, but we held our own. Up ahead, though, was Makapu`u. We had to squeeze between the lighthouse and a smaller offshore island. Beyond that was where things were supposed to get really rough, and so the cliffs that marked the channel were looking extra ominous as we approached - especially given how big the waves already were, here in the easy part. I lost count of how many boats huli'd. There were a lot of spills out there.

Escort - I though we could make the channel, but Roz called a change before it. Drat!

Third Segment - Makapu`u to Ka Iwi.
Seat 3. Lucky for me (or so I thought!) we had a change right after the channel. I was in the boat for the fun part (which was good, 'cause I was getting a bit queasy by this time while on the escort boat). It was man vs. nature, and we got through on sheer adrenalin and muscle. Now I'm finally getting tired, but luckily we're half way & the hard part is behind us ... we think.

Escort - But we're still in rough water. At one point we crest a wave and I'm thrown airborn. I land hard on my side, and my ass, thigh, and forearm are still seriously bruised.

Fourth Segment - Sandy's to Koko Crater.
Seat 5. Why are we still here? This should be close to the final stretch, this change. The seas aren't as rough or as big as at Makapu`u, but they're still kind of big. We thought this would be downwind, and that we could ride some swells. Instead, we're still fighting our way forward. We can only see a couple other canoes - the rest must have shot ahead while we were in .... and then the ama came flip over, and we found ourselves upside down, under water, and still canvassed into the wa`a. This was one of the scenarios that scared me. Usually you pop right out of the boat, but I'd heard that sometimes you kind of get stuck & have to unzip yourself while submerged. Well, I was calm like Shelly Winters when the time came. I decided my paddle wasn't doing me much good, let it go, calmly unzipped the canvas, and rolled myself to the surface to take a big welcome gulp of air. Only, a wave bitch-slapped me when I surfaced, and I got a big unwelcome gulp of seawater instead. Everyone else seemed to be having a rough time of it too, and it took a lot of tries to flip the boat right. I tried to bail, but waves kept filling the boat up. When we finally got moving I was exhausted, and I could feel that everyone else was beat too.

Fifth Segment - Approaching Black Point. Seat 2. I usually like this seat, but now I am really frakkin' tired and hot and sore & I now I'm not keeping good form. We had thought this round would see us home, but we haven't even passed Diamond Head yet. We seem to be slow in the water. Everyone looks like they're struggling.

Sixth Segment - Diamond Head to Home

Seat 4. This is our water. We paddle this all the time. But oh it seemed to take forever! Worse, we started to hear a boat behind us, coming out of nowhere but getting closer. We sprinted, we pulled, we used every last ounce of energy we had, but they managed to pass us in the final quarter mile by riding inside. They beat us by a couple seconds, but we were neck and neck and fought hard the entire last section.

Our final time, 4 hours 18 minutes. I don't know yet if we were absolutely last or just close to it. It was a long race, much longer than the 3 to 3 1/2 hours we were predicting. Tomorrow I'll see how the jocks at work did.

I'm feeling pretty amazing now, but absolutely beat. I'm too tired to do anything, and too jacked to go to sleep.

(photos all from Mike Winters)

Race Day

I can't even relax. I'm heading out in a few minutes to WYC to catch the carpool up to Kailua. And then we race. My body is caught in this weird mix of apprehension and excitement. The adrenalin is there, but so is something else, that whatever it is that carries anxiety.

So this is the day. The past two days - shoots, maybe the whole week - have been prep for this. We'll set out from Kailua at 9am, paddle around Makapu`u, Hanauma, and Diamond Head, and hopefully land in Waikiki shortly past noon. I'm as ready as I'll be.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I've been up for two hours, and can still barely move. Good thing it's a state holiday.

Lorna emailed me Wednesday letting me know that I would be racing on Sunday. That was a shock - I just assumed that I wouldn't have a seat. I kind of went into panic mode ... I just wasn't feeling ready for it, and knew then that I was gonna die.

I went for a one-man paddle to Kewalo and back Wednesday. I didn't huli, which was my main goal. My time wasn't so great, and my balance still sucks, but not flipping was a big improvement. It felt good to get back in the water. I even went for a run afterwards. Thursday's practice was long. We did changes out to the Diamond Head buoy, then did a straight run back to Kaka`ako. Then more changes.

I was dreading Thursday, but did all right. My strength didn't suffer at all, and I wasn't winded. My form was weaker, though - I lost some flexibility, and couldn't maintain a good stroke on the faster paces. Overall, though, I surprised myself. I wasn't as behind as I thought I was.

Then I went home and slept twelve hours. Woke up past 11am, and could barely move. I guess I have some catching up to do after all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


What happened? She was all set to hit, and then the damn thing stalled outside the Big Island, and just sat there for 24 hours while her life just dwindled away.

Meanwhile, I thought I was over jet lag - that I didn't even have any, in fact. I was wrong. The past two nights I woke up bright-eyed and ready to go ... at 3 in the morning. So I missed yoga Monday, and practice yesterday. There's a race Sunday, but there's no way in hell I'll qualify for a seat, or survive if I do. I think part of the reason I stayed late at work yesterday was so that I'd wrack any vestigial chances I had of getting a seat. I was getting towards peak shape when I left for Ireland, but close to two weeks of smoking and drinking has set me back some.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ireland Finale

I'm back home, and already Ireland seems like a hazy dream. I'm not sure if that's an affect of a 24-hour journey back, or the residual shock of being in one place one day & back on the opposite side of the planet the next. So it doesn't quite seem real that a few days ago I was there, with my family, pub crawling and bog jumping, and that now I'm not.

So here's a quck wrap-up ...

Wednesday - I finished up at the internet cafe and dragged myself to McDermot's. It turned out to be a great night. The band that was playing was amazing, and we had a table close to the musicians. It was the first time this week that the musicians weren't just playing background sounds.

Thursday - Most of us headed to the Aran Islands. Rented bikes, and rode up to Dún Aonghasa, a bronze age fort on the cliffs of Inishmore.

Friday - We had planned to do more hiking, but it rained all day. Drove to Lahinch to watch the surfers, but it was cold and windy and messy, & I wasn't the least bit tempted to join them. Then it was up to Inistymon, a market town, to get fish for dinner. We got smoked haddock, pickled herring, mussels, and shrimp. I thought that was enough to cook with, but Dad supplemented it with pounds of rib eye. We were full enough that night! That night I skipped the pubs. It was the same deal - I would have joined them all for a pint, but wasn't up for a whole night. We stopped by Poulnabrone , a pre-Celtic portal tomb, on the way back. It was cool, but much, much smaller than I had thought from all the pictures.

Saturday - We packed up and moved to Enis for our last night. Stopped at Dysert O'Dea en route, an archaeological site with a restored round house, a ruined 8th century church founded by St. Tola, and a beautiful 12th Century high stone cross. Enis was a nice change, for me - a real village with it's medival core intact, and full of micks instead of tourists. Jeff and I got scolded by one old lady for not being active in partisan politics back home, and she ordered Jeff to join up with Irish Northern Aid.

So. Ireland. I'm still not sure what to think of it all. It was different travelling with a large group. A lot of our interactions were tourist:local instead of person to person. People were cool, but I noticed a certain gap. I'm not sure if everyone saw it. Maybe, living in a tourist area, I'm more aware of it.

Professionally, they're miles ahead of us. Our town planning and local architecture sucks ass compared to theirs. It's an embarassment. In other areas we're doing alright. Ireland is still, with all their money, still a conservative farming society. People were nice, but always a bit formal. It was nice to get back to the west coast and see people laughing and joking. You could feel the difference even at the airport - things were just a bit more casual and relaxed.

And now it's time to look forwards ... 'cause look who's coming our way:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


OK. If I ever travel with my family again I'm doing the planning. It's not going to be negotiable.

The rest of the gang is at the pub. Google 'Doolin' and you'll find that the village is famous for its three pubs, and is a center of traditional music. What you won't realize is that is
all that Doolin has: three pubs. C'est tout. No grocery, no stores, no atm or bank. It has three pubs, packed jeek to jowl with tourists come to soak in the traditional atmosphere. And technically, two of the three pubs aren't even in Doolin, they're in Roadford a few km up the road. And technically, we aren't even in Roadford, but a long hike up the road and down another in Oughtdarra (which is more fun to say than Roadford or Doolin). Oughtdarra is famous for its four thatched roof cottages - which is about fifty percent of the total number of houses in Oughtdarra.

It's beautiful and all, and the days have been great, but I'm facing another long night of sitting in a pub with no escape and ... I couldn't be more bored. And I'm stuck, because I can't get my brother to add my name to the car without a fight & there's nowhere within an hours drive to rent another. Sure I'm kicking myself, because I almost did rent one in Dublin (for the price we're paying for our SUV we could have each rented our own, dangit) & I was talked out of it.

Let's back up. Last I logged in I was stranded in the rain, and the internet shop was due to close in ten minutes. I had already scouted the town, and there were no vacancies, not even a manger. There are plenty of cattle and sheep here, but they must sleep in the elements because I didn't see a barn or garage or any open space with an overhang. Ireland imports its rain from Iceland, and I was looking at a long miserable 29km walk to the next town.

I had stopped in the pub we were supposed to meet it ... and I wasn't impressed. There were a few guys playing music in the corner, and it might have been beautiful except that the bar was so packed there was nowhere to walk, much less sit down and enjoy it. I found a stool outside against a wall, and claimed it. My neighbors were a couple of NYC students studying at the Yeats School of Poetry up in Sligo, and they might have been cool, but we were separated by a very drunk older white dread and his very pregnant teenage girlfriend. She stared out at the world with a dull bovine look, while he bored us (bored me, actually; the NYC kids were young enough to be amused) with a long story about a movie where the Terminator got pregnant. When he saw I was reading a book by Murakami he picked it up & squealed Mu-Ra-KAMEE! Hee-ya! Then he did a little kung-fu chop with his dry leathery arms. I couldn't even pretend to like him.

Later he pulled out a
bodhrán and entertained us with the international standard hippy beat: thump. thump. tha-thump. thump. thump. thump. thump. thump.

Hippies all think they have rhythm, and none of them ever do.

And I knew that I had fallen from grace, that Jah had abandonned me, and that I would get no help at this bar.

I managed to hitch a ride with the internet cafe manager, who I will donate all my karma to when I pass on. He knew the cottages in Oughtdarra, and drove me out when the shift was over. I had learned from the cottages' landlady (hours away in some real city) that my uncle had arrived, but that the rest had missed their flight. In the middle of the night we got to the cottages, but all was dark. I rang the bell, but knew that that would be useless as my uncle is deaf & probably turned off his hearing aid to sleep.

So we picked the lock. There are some benefits to being Irish. I helped myself to his whiskey (another benefit to being Irish) and passed out.

I woke up the next morning to an empty house, miles from anywhere. My uncle hasn't seen me since I started growing my hair out & grew a beard. He saw me sleeping, didn't know who I was, and so grabbed his passport and wallet & ran.

So. Stranded again.

I almost walked town, but the rest of 'em arrived in the early afternoon. I couldn't quite stay angry, as I had a warm bed after a close call, and so was feeling pretty good.

So, here are the days: Our cottage is nice. It's far down a side road, in deep country. Jeff and Tim and I broke into a castle our first day, and explored that (technically, Jeff broke in and Tim and I followed). Two days ago we all climbed the cliffs up into the burren behind the cottage, and explored some of the ruins up there. It's a spare, rocky landscape dotted with neolithic, medieval, and more recent ruins. It was also covered in wildflowers, and was absolutely spectacular. Yesterday Uncle Bob dropped Dad, Jeff and I off in Ballyvaughan, and we walked cross-country the 18km back to the cottages. Another stunning day. We had to climb two mountains en route, so my legs are feeling pretty good. Today we all (except Jeff and Tim) tried to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands, missed the ferry, and so drove to the Cliifs of Moher and Enis to explore them.

All good.

But now it's night (sort of - it's 9:30pm and the sun is just getting ready to set), and I'd be fine with a pint, or two ... but each night has turned into a bit of an ordeal (for me) as I just ... don't ... give a shit about these pubs in Doolin. We've passed through a lot of towns with pubs, and I'm willing to bet that all are just as 'traditional' as these three are - they're just not in the book.

Tomorrow it's the islands. Tomorrow daytime I'll be in a better mood. Just at the moment I'm feeling stuck. Again.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

No Vacancies

I'm in Doolin, I've was at the frakkin pub for three hours, there's no sign of the brothers, no emails, no vacancies anywhere, no back up plan, and it's raining. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dublin Day 1

Saturday morning, and I'm still in a bit of a daze, though I don't know if it's from last night or residual drag from the journey here. Honolulu to LA was the typical 5-hr ordeal in the cattle car American Ariline's calls coach. I went limp about an hour into it. LAX was a nine hour dream. I found a corner to sleep in, and got a few hours before friendly airport security woke me up and told me I had to sit in a chair. I scored on Aer Lingus, and got a bulkhead seat with no neighbors. It made the next nine hours bearable. They have earned my loyalty with that move.
Still, I arrived in dream state. I don't even think it's jet lag with me, as I get off the plane barely remembering my name. Had some difficulty finding the guesthouse. I managed to get off at the right bus-stop, and was pretty sure I had found the right unmarked lane. Problem was, all I knew was the right block to go to - I didn't have an address & the owner forgot to tell me that there was no sign out front. There was no indication that this was anything but an abandonned squat, really - just a number on the door of a non-descript alley off Camden.
I finally found it by ringing bells on the doors of the handful of buildings that weren't posted with condemnation signs. What a lovely neighborhood. Yesterday evening I had to roll aside a beat-up & semi-comatose drunk Mick to get to the door. This, I guess, is what 55 euro buys you in the modern Europe. Pissing exchange rate. At least the place is nice and clean once you're inside.
I went for a random wander once I had settled in. The guesthouse owner had recommended I take a tourist bus that lets you get off and on at all the main sights of Dublin. He said it was the best way to see them all in one afternoon.
That sounded like a nightmare, rushing from Spot to Spot. And I had done close to no research for this trip, so I didn't even know what the Spots were. I imagine the bus as some sort of "See James Joyce's Dublin" horror, the literary equivalent of New York City's Sex and the City Tours.
So instead I wandered vaguely towards St. Stephen's Green & just figured I'd see what I'd see. And that took up most of the afternoon - I grabbed a brien panini and ate in the green, explored St. Stephen's and the Meridien Gardens, and popped in the National Gallery when that came into view. The last was pretty cool - there was an exhibition on the Fantastic in Irish Art, and the emphasis was on the end of the 19th and early 20th century artists who were combining Celtic mythology, Romantic poetry, and neo-Realism. I can't remember the name of a single artist, but some of the work was quite haunting.
And I can say I went to a museum, which satisfies people. It shows I'm a good tourist & all. When locals anywhere ask "what'd you do today" no one wants to here "I wandered aimlessly through the streets." They want you to See Things, and don't always understand that The Thing for me is the City itself. When I wander streets in a foregin land it helps fill in the empty spaces in the geographical map in my mind. More pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and a few more patterns become clear.
The Gardens were lovely, too. Before I left I sent in some comments as part of the Board on the Kapi`olani Park Master Plan - I wanted more trees, more walkways, and more divisions between the different areas of the park. No one else on the Board was impressed with my ideas. We are so far behind sometimes in Hawai`i, so shockingly far behind. I wish I could drag them by the ears across both oceans and show them how it's done here. Both parks were a mix of thick forest and open glens. Though you were in the center of the city, the city disappeared within feet of the sidewalk. The paths curved through and around the different parts of the parks, and each area felt like a seperate and private room sperated by thick walls of tree, bush, and flower. In one room tourists were eating lunch at the side of a pond. Another was full of lovers lying in the grass. A third had teens practicing soccer, and fourth was full of children in public school uniform tearing through the lawn.
I'm no sure that a Planning degree taught me how to improve American cities. Sometime I think it just showed me more acutely what we lack.
I napped, ate at my first pub (a pint of Guinness and Fish & Chips - predictable, nah?), and it was still light. I don't think the sun went down until close to ten, although it felt like it was going to set every minute after 3. I went to Temple Bar, which turned out to not be a bar after all, but an entire quarter given over to pubs, bands, and restaurants. I wasn't feeling very social yet, so stayed out of the crowded places. Ended up at a low key gay place, and it fit the bill. It was also fairly international. I met some Dubliners, of course, but also guys from Latvia, the Basque country, Brazil, the Czech Republic, and Italy. The energy was fairly low - turns out it's Belfast Pride this weekend, and a Bank Holiday (whatever that is), so a lot of the crowds were up north.
I meant to stay until midnight, but it was closer to 1:30 when I realized I couldn't go on & needed to crawl back to bed. The streets were alive, though, and I decided that a stroll through Temple Bar at closing time would make a pretty damn fine traditional Irish experience.
And it was. I was ready for Trainspotting and drunk shrieky UK girls and angry football hooligans. What I got instead was a full-on balls-out street party. A band had set up on the sidewalk and was playing for coin. The streets were full of dancers. Happy, drunk, silly Irish dancers. The music was some cross between Irish and New Orleans Jazz, and it rocked. The crowd made way once for an ambulance to get by, but otherwise there was no traffic on the street (as if anyone down here was sober enough to drive tonight) & the cops didn't seem to mind.
It didn't seem to matter who was with who - you passed down the street, you danced. I think I learned some new moves, even ...
I got to bed around 3am ... so this a.m. I'm not even going to attempt to do anything besides eat, and try and find the bus to Doolin.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Obama Down for the Count

Obama Willing to Invade Pakistan in al Qaeda Hunt

No way. This is a deal killer. I can't vote for this man if this is seriously how he thinks.