Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Farewell

Dear Nani,

Today you will don some angel wings, cast off your physical body, and take off into the great unknown. I'm so happy to have known you and to have shared this earthly existence together as 1st cousins. After such a long struggle, your battle with cancer is done and you can take to the skies.

Give our grandmother and grandfather a great big hug for me. I look forward to the day that I will see you again in immortal perfection and having achieved the full measure of your creation.

I love you Zanetta and wish you peace on your journey and a fullness of joy.

With All My Love,
Your Cousin!

Me in the bottom left corner, she in the top-right corner.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 18: My Favorite Birthday

The more I age, the more I feel like my birthday is just another day. Not that I feel that my life is not worth celebrating but more that I don't wait for my birthday to do something nice. I feel like life should be lived every single day like it's the last moment. When I take that approach to life, I find that the little things don't seem to bother me as much -- like how my husband removes his dirty socks and leaves it in the middle of the room. I wish I could have practiced that type of mindset when I was going through all those changes that my husband was putting me through. But I digress.

I don't think I have a favorite birthday. I can say that I remember most of the parties I've had though. If I did have to choose just one though, it would probably be my 16th birthday. August 4th, 1991. I didn't have a huge birthday party. In fact, that year I didn't have a party at all. Summertime birthdays can be the pits since a lot of the time none of my friends ever remembered it. At least in high school, that's how it was. My mother let me sleep in that day. That was a rare occasion. She NEVER let me sleep in. I always had some chore to tend to whether it was making breakfast for my grandmothers or cleaning some part of the house, my mother had tons of chores for me to do.

Anyway -- by noon of my 16th birthday I had managed to get the keys to my mother's van as well as permission to go to the mall -- all by myself. Since I live way out in the country, going to the mall with the family car, all by myself was HUGE! I felt so independent. They gave me a hundred dollars and said I could do whatever I wanted with it. I ended up at Pearlridge Mall which is about an hour away from home. I bought a poster of L.L. Cool J (major crush)!! I bought Gladys Knight's Greatest Hits CD and called it day. What I loved the most is the freedom and the independence. I felt so very free!

That started the trend, for me, of treating myself on my birthday. Sometimes. Most times. I prefer to do absolutely nothing on my birthday. Social ties usually do not allow for it thus... I have a birth-week rather than a birth-day. This past birthday is an example of a birth-week.

So like I said... as I age... I don't wait for my birthday to treat myself. I do what I want, whenever I want because I deserve it. So do you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Japan in PICTURES

The Rail Map... could not figure this one out. Husband spoke to the woman at the desk and said, "Tokyo". She came out, led us to the electronic machine. Put our money in it and placed us on our path. Domo Arigato!

Love all the buildings and lights in Shibuya.


I just love how everything looks. I wonder if these balls of light are traditional?!

Husband bout to get his eat on. This is the best tonkatsu I have ever eaten. Yumm!!

Me on the free shuttle. So grateful for the shuttles everywhere!

I think this is my favorite shot of all the pictures I took in Shibuya. I think it's the almost monotone quality of this picture.


Shibuya's crazy center square. All intersections -- red light and all pedestrians get the green light.

Love the colorful vending machines everwhere!

Traditional peoples in the middle of Shibuya! Oxymoron.

More of the lights.

Everything is so colorful in Japan.

I love to see all the characters around town.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 1: Narita, Japan

Arrived in Narita, Japan on Saturday afternoon. We left early Friday morning so we sacrificed an entire day because of the time zone changes. The good thing is that when we leave here on Monday, 730PM, we arrive in Honolulu on Monday, 630AM. Isn't that funny?! So, we get two Mondays.

First, let me comment on the flight to Japan. Husband and I copped seats in Business Elite. That is NOT First Class. It's better than First Class on Domestic Flights. Here are all the reasons:
  • The seats lay flat. Yes -- I repeat -- the seats lay flat and extends out from beneath to support your legs.
  • All movies, games, and music are on-demand
  • Delta provides you with slippers to wear, noise-cancelling ear phones, a small toiletries bag, a standard size, down feather pillow, and a full-size comforter.
  • They served two full meals with real silverware and glassware. 
  • The first meal was complete with an appetizers course, main course, and a dessert course
  • The second meal was a "pre-arrival" meal. It was breakfast. A very delicious breakfast.
Nearly everything here is done in Japanese and English (at least at the airport and the hotel shuttle). The language barrier is not too harsh. I wish I could post the pictures I took with my Blackberry but I'm not paying the international roaming charges on my phone. 

Tomorrow, I will definitely have my camera to capture all the beauty that I will find in Narita and Tokyo. I will post a few here and the bulk of it on Facebook.

The hotel we're at is OUTSTANDING and great for the price we got it for. The universe is truly abundant!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Envision Laie.... Running Out of Inventory

I've been putting off doing this post for a couple days because it takes so much energy for me to "gather" my thoughts. This is my personal opinion and not a personal attack on your opinion. Agreed? That means that I'm not criticizing your opinion so don't take it personal!

December 7th, Helbert Hastert & Fee Planners (on behalf of the City & County of Honolulu) held a meeting at Kahuku High School and opened the forum up to the public for commentary on the proposed Envision Laie expansion. I haven't put a great deal of time into researching Envision Laie specifically. I don't think a person really needs to do the in depth research to oppose it. In the opposite direction, if you did do the in depth research to find a reason to support it, I think you'd find that there's no basis for supporting it.

Let me set up what I think are pertinent facts to the ongoing controversy.

  • The current plan for Ko'olau Loa (pdf document of the actual plan) does not include expansion of Malaekahana.
  • Hawaii Reserves Inc. (HRI) manages property for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which means all of La'ie.
  • In 2003, HRI purchased Malaekahana and began the planning process for "Envision Laie".
The current City and County of Honolulu sustainability plan for Ko'olau Loa wishes to preserve the agriculture land and preservations land. In fact, it seeks to develop agriculture rather than build houses. 

There are several guidelines that must be followed when dealing with the City and County of Honolulu and other governmental agencies. There are specific procedures in place. In the case of Envision Laie's proposed expansion of La'ie, their proposal was never a part of the City's plan. Envision Laie is seeking to extend the deadline for proposed changes to the City plan and eventually amend the City plan to include the expansion of La'ie. A good example of a well-executed City plan is Kapolei whose proposed development was many decades in the making.

The meeting held on December 7th was just one in a series of several public opinion meetings. SIDENOTE: I must say that I am grateful that my community is so passionate about the future of our ahupua'a. Every single meeting I have attended in regards to this issue has been standing-room-only. At the heart of the argument is HRI is petitioning the City to first, convert ag land into residential. Second, "permit" them to begin construction (by amending the City plan). The opposition prefers that the City maintain its current stance of preserving ag land. 

HRI and Envision Laie was very clever in that they hired a mainland marketing firm (rather than an economic development firm) to push forward their development plan. Several sources point out this fact. I think it is a valid point to consider in determining an opinion on the issues. 

Some of the points I have gathered from sitting in on several of the Envision Laie meetings are as follows:
  • Proposed construction of over a thousand new homes and condo's
  • Proposed new shopping center
  • Expansion of BYU-HAWAII
  • Full expansion of Turtle Bay that was previously struck from the City plan based on community opposition
I don't know why La'ie community members are enamored with this plan. What is attractive about more houses and more hotels? At the meeting, I was so taken aback by the community members who support Envision Laie. They did not give me one valid reason for the expansion. Many testified that they wanted this to go through for their kids. What exactly does that mean? Many said that additional housing is moving toward sustainability. Last I checked, houses can't be eaten. BYU students testified that they didn't have anywhere to live. Fluff!

I really could go on and on about this topic and maybe I will revisit it in the future. For me, HRI/ Envision Laie cares only for the interests of the LDS Church. (Yes, I am LDS and No, I don't have to follow blindly.) It is HRI's right to protect their interests. I just get all irritated with community members who have effectively been "sold" the plan without really truly thinking about how sustainable the plan is or isn't. Most supporters like the idea of "affordable" housing. A thousand homes will go very fast. Then what? What will be the next proposal? Will it still be "affordable" after the inventory is gone? How does HRI plan to impose a measure where 50% of the homes will go to community members? Isn't housing discrimination illegal?

I am just NOT SOLD on this plan and I haven't even touched on the economics of Envision Laie or the imposition of colonial practices onto the host culture of these islands. Maybe that will be another post. I just can't see the long term benefit of the development of La'ie.  


Monday, December 06, 2010

December Arrives Too Fast

I can't believe it's December. So fast!

Beijing, China trip is postponed due to poor planning. Charge it to my inexperience with international travel. I totally blanked on applying for a tourist VISA. Stupid!! Bummers. Oh well -- We'll probably go somewhere in Asia just to snap some shots, visit a Buddhist Monastery or something.

I have been so busy doing something or nothing -- they both run into each other so often. I really  need to catch up on all the things that are going on in my head. Time. Where does it all go?