Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Popular Family Outing

AT&T Park, across from McCovey Cove
Last Friday we took our nephew's family, which included our one and only grandniece, to their first Giants baseball game. The home team led the Dodgers, 4-0, after the first inning and won going away, 9-0. The lack of suspense gave the new fans an opportunity to explore AT&T Park, eat the tasty, overpriced food, and acquire a glimmer of understanding why a Giants baseball game is a popular family outing.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Premature Declarations

Now (actually, 2012):

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kamana Wanna Manapua

The flight attendant placed the dish on the seatback tray. I pointed to the large bun in the center.

Ma'am, what is this?

"It's got chicken inside. It's like a manapua."

I was pleased that she had assumed that I knew the word. Over 40 years of living on the Mainland haven't completely excised the kanaka influence.

Manapua are the Island version of Chinese pork buns (char siu bow); they are much larger than bow and one can be a meal unto itself.

The airline bun would be the third manapua I had this week. When you're on vacation it doesn't count.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Price Too High

Last Tuesday curiosity won.

I strolled past the house that had been enveloped by the monkey pod tree. Hidden from sight, dozens of birds chirped away, their song enlivening the quiet afternoon. The sylvan setting was indeed uplifting, but for me the price (roof maintenance, fire hazard) of beauty was too high.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Blackeye, Please

Auahi St. Starbucks at 4:20 a.m.
Never having made the transition to Hawaiian time (technically HST is Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time), I wake up early and head over to the Auahi St. Starbucks, which opens at four a.m.

At 4:15 I'm not the first one there; in fact customers are already ensconced with their laptops and drinks---have they been up all night?

My brother introduced me to the off-menu blackeye, a regular coffee with two shots of espresso.

Reloading is easy since--they
have your credit card number, too
The blackeye obviates the need for an afternoon nap; this vacation isn't one for sleeping.

Activating the Starbucks app, I swipe the iPhone over the scanner. Starbucks knows where I've been for the past year, the drinks that my family and I like, the amounts we spend, and the times of day we partake.

In exchange Starbucks sends a weekly coupon to my e-mail address. It's quick and all too convenient.

No wonder Apple wants to get in on the act. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adequate Compensation

Like many diseases, there is a genetic component to Parkinson's Disease, that is, if one has a relative who's afflicted, one has a higher probability of contracting it. (It doesn't bode well that Parkinson's has afflicted members on both sides of my family.)

The Honolulu YMCA conducts group-exercise classes for Parkinson's sufferers. Some attendees are aided by relatives or friends, while others who are able to drive themselves come alone. Muscles that are in danger of atrophying are stretched and flexed twice a week, and all who try---that's everyone---are applauded.

We left the Kaimuki Y and the driver was treated to a nice lunch at a restaurant on Waialae Avenue. The compensation may seem modest, but it was more than adequate. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Aloha to You, Too

This skateboarder is preventing my right turn, but I didn't mind.
Honolulu traffic congestion is fundamentally due to too many cars on too-narrow roads that were constructed before 1960. A recent development that adds to the frustration is the explosion of bicyclists and skateboarders, many of whom weave between sidewalk and street, ignoring red lights and Don't Walk signals.

The behavior of drivers is no better. I smile and wave at cars who accelerate past those who obediently wait in line to cut in ahead of me. I'm on vacation, they're important people going to work, and their time is more important than mine. Aloha, bruddah. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Monday, September 08, 2014

Productive Vacation

Organizing is nearly pau.
The Hawaiian vacation isn't all sun, sand, and sybaritic excess. I helped Mom fill three boxes of books that she will never read (or read again) and organize decades-old correspondence and photos.

As my reward I will take back to California a few pictures of days---and people---who only live in memory.

A productive and enjoyable vacation, though lacking in traditional hedonic pleasures. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You

My childhood church is looking a bit different these days. The interior has been opened up to let in the bright Hawaiian sun. The walls have been re-paneled with koa, matching the pews. Except for the large piece over the altar, the stained glass has been replaced.

The church has a lady minister, a Lutheran pastor crackling with energy and full of ideas to expand its web presence.

I wonder what my grandparents, who helped to construct the sanctuary 100 years ago, would say about the changes to the church that they had faithfully attended. The liturgy is gender neutral, and half the traditional hymns have been thrown out. But the essence is recognizably Episcopal, and the church has become the home of some of their great-grandchildren. I like to think that they would be pleased. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Pachyderm Plate

Helping my mother clear her overflowing bookshelf, I came across this out-of-print gem, 1993's Creative Culinary Concoctions, Cooking with the Cal Employees. (The California Hotel & Casino is a favorite destination of Hawaii travelers in Las Vegas.)

The dishes are laden with calories, but none more than this recipe.

Elephant Stew

1 elephant (medium size)
2 rabbits (optional)
Salt and pepper

Cut the elephant into bite-size pieces. This should take about two months. Add enough gravy to cover. Cook over kerosene fire for about four weeks at 465 degrees. This will serve 3,800 people. If more people are expected, two rabbits may be added, but this should be done only if necessary, as most people do not like to find hare in their stew. (Jim Martin)

There is clearly some information missing:
1) How many hacksaw blades do I need?
2) "Add enough gravy to cover" --- how long do I need to run the hose, and what about the California water shortage (which existed even back in 1993)?
3) Kerosene fires emit pollution, especially indoors, where I plan to cook the stew. Is natural gas ok?
4) What are the per-serving sodium, fat, calories, and calories from fat? My diet app requires this information.

Uninformed readers may be skeptical, but research on the eating habits of our ancestors suggests that we should seriously consider adding pachyderm to our plates.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Beauty From a Distance

Trees provide shade, beauty, and oxygen. But it's possible to have too much of a good thing.

I first noticed the monkey pod tree 40 years ago. Minimal trimming has allowed it to grow into a giant that has almost completely covered the middle house in the lane.

But that's not the worst of it. When a monkey pod tree drops its seeds the pods break open, covering the ground with a black sticky substance that attracts birds and insects. (During his childhood your humble observer avoided playing on fields with monkey pod trees during that time of the year.) I can't imagine what the poor owner of the all-but-hidden house has to contend with, but the longer he puts off dealing with the problem the more expensive it will be. Meanwhile, we who live at a distance from the tree admire its beauty. © 2014 Stephen Yuen

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Happy to Provide

My 92-year-old mother-in-law needs help around the house, and her children and grandchildren are happy to provide it whenever they visit her (most of us live on the Mainland). Today's assignment was to clear the top level on the hill above; industrial-strength Roundup, which now has a built-in battery-powered sprayer, makes the task easy.

One of the reasons that we have children is that good deeds we perform today will be paid forward by our descendants when we are 92 years old.

Come to think of it, I'd better start looking into retirement condos and assisted living....

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Kanes, Start Your Feasting

We went to Foodland to pick up some items for dinner. The destination was the poke counter, where the spiced-tuna selections were more varied, cheaper and tastier than the dishes found on the mainland. Lomi salmon, four varieties of poke, and a bag of poi were thrown into the cart.

Off to Yamas Fishmarket to buy the lau lau. (Kamaainas will make 3-4 stops to get the "best" ingredients for a Hawaiian meal.)

Yamas had an unexpected find: opihi from the Big Island. A small container was well worth the $4 cost; it was my first taste of the salty shellfish after 20 years.

Absent tastes were spicy and sweet, which were satisfied by later guests who brought kimchi and haupia.

Of course, there were leftovers. No worries, Hawaiian cuisine doesn't suffer much from reheating, and we'll be needing some late night snacks after a night of liquid refreshment.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

All Smiles

Waiting for a ride from HNL
The stars finally aligned with the work and personal schedules (not to mention flight availability), and I'm off to my old home town for a week.

BTW, Hawaiian Airlines' coach service, with a simple but quality meal service and personal touch-screen video, seems a cut above the competition. Our plane was a new A330.

45 years of flying back and forth have taught me never to take a jacket (unless required for business) and pack lots of shorts and T-shirts. Heat and humidity blanketed the arriving passengers, but like a returning kamaaina I came wearing a thin aloha shirt and light slacks.

My ride asked me not if or when but where I wanted to go for lunch. I was home.