Monday, July 25, 2011


So I did it.  I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane yesterday.  My mom and sister are in town this week and we went skydiving on the North Shore yesterday morning.  It was a beautiful day for it when we left in the morning.  We already had advanced reservations (which I recommend doing because it is both cheaper and you won't wait very long).  We watched a bunch of people come down before it was our turn and that helped alleviate any anxiety I had over the whole "speeding toward the ground" thing.

We got up in the plane, harnesses on, and were ready to jump when the pilot got a call from the ground saying that it started raining.  This was a problem because hitting rain at 120mph hurts like a bitch.  Yes, you fly to the ground at 120mph.  Anyway, we circled around for a while until it cleared, but it never did.  No one wanted to land, though, so we made the decision to just jump.

It was surprisingly not that bad.  There was an initial feeling of falling (like when you drop in a roller coaster and your stomach jumps in your throat), but once you hit terminal velocity, it's just windy.  The worst part was definitely the rain, though.  It really stings like a bitch.  That was the only time I knew I was really moving quickly through the air.

then we landed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Headnote of the Week

That no straight thinking person would believe that a skin cream would actually rejuvenate the skin as advertised would not eliminate element of deception in the advertising, since the act prohibiting false advertising was not made for the protection of experts but for the general public which includes the ignorant, the unthinking, and the credulous.
Charles of the Ritz Distributors Corp. v. Fed. Trade Comm'n, 143 F.2d 676 (2d Cir. 1944)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Aaaand we're back!

Yes, I know.  It's been nearly a month since my last blog post and you're dying for an update.  Where have you been?  How's the pineapple?  How's the triathlon training?  Did you jump out of a plane yet?  Done anything cool lately?

Well, I have the answers to all those questions and more.  My absence was primarily due to being on vacation for 14 days on the mainland.  I was home for a few days and then went to Myrtle Beach, SC for 8 straight days of golf with my dad and some of his buddies.  It's an annual trip where we play a handicap-based tournament for a green jacket.  It's called the "Hack Master's" tournament in honor of the green jacket awarded at the actual Master's tournament.  I really thought I had a shot this year, but alas, I suck.  I played like garbage the entire week and was out of the running by the 3rd or 4th day.  Overall, though, it was a lot of fun.  We rent a condo for the week and do a lot of golfing, a lot of card playing, and a lot of drinking.  It was a good vacation.

Then I spent a few days at home before flying back to Hawaii.  One thing I experienced while on vacation may have ruined me for life.  I flew first class on my direct flight to New York.  It was an 11 hour flight and they gave me the option to upgrade so I took it.  I've decided that on long flights, it's the only way to travel.  I got a pretty good dinner (shrimp cocktail, pork chop, and ice cream sundae) along with all the booze you can drink. you also get to check 2 bags for free, which I needed because I had my golf clubs, etc.  Anyway, I stretched out completely, had my own tv screen, and a plug for my computer.  I ate dinner, got "sleepy" on a few drinks, put in a movie on my laptop and slept for a solid 6-7 hours.  It was the most enjoyable 11 hour flight I've ever had.

So now I'm back and have less than two months left in Hawaii.  I can't believe it's already July!  In a separate post I will describe my 4th of July weekend, but for the most part nothing exciting has really been happening here.  I am mostly doing the same stuff as before.  I have 24 days until the Honolulu Tinman Triathlon so I've spent the last 4-5 days getting swimming lessons to improve my stroke efficiency and to work on my endurance.  I still think I'm going to drown, but I am slowly improving, which is a good thing I guess.

My next couple months are going to be quite busy, though.  My mom and sister are coming for an 8-day visit at the end of the month, I am going to visit friends on Maui for a few days in mid-July, I have to pack up and ship all my stuff to Chicago before I leave for South America at the end of August, and at some point I should probably do some actual work.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Expensive Afternoon

As followers of my blog know, my countdown is moving closer and closer to zero hour.  The time I pack up (again), sell off everything else (again), and move across the ocean (again).  This time, however, I will not be going direct.  Since I am starting a new job in mid-September that promises to be more demanding (and hopefully more exciting) than my current one, I decided to take a vacation first.  Well, more of a trip, really.  I am going to South America for 18 days prior to moving back to Chicago.  I booked my tickets this afternoon.  I'll be flying from Hawaii to Chicago, dropping off some bags, flying the next morning to Lima, Peru, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, going over to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, and then heading back to Chicago to start my job.  It'll be a whirlwind trip, but I'm looking forward to it.  Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list for quite a while, so I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waimea Valley

Sometime last week I went up to the North Shore with my co-worker and his girlfriend to hang out at the beach, go surfing, and just cruise around.  We went up to Pupukea and there was hardly a single person there.  It's a vast stretch of really nice beach and big waves.  It's also right next to Shark's Cove, which has some great snorkeling.  Anyway, we hung out there for only a little while because about an hour or two into the morning, it started to rain.

Although it was raining a little, we decided to stay up at the North Shore and across from Waimea Beach, there is a conservatory called Waimea Valley - (59-864 Kamehameha Highway Haleiwa, HI 96712-8411).  Waimea Valley consists of 1,875 acres and has been a sacred place for more than 700 years of Native Hawaiian history.  Waimea, “The Valley of the Priests,” gained its title around 1090 when the ruler of O‘ahu awarded the land to the kähuna nui. Descendants of the high priests lived and cared for much of the Valley until 1886.  As part of a cooperative conservation land purchase, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs acquired the property in 2006.

Anyway, they have daily activities that visitors can watch like ancient sports games, traditional methods of making clothes, etc.  Visitors to the Valley are allowed to participate in several of the activities (with paid admission) including Lei Making, Kapa Demonstration, Hula Lessons, Hawaiian Games, and Crafts, Music & Story Telling with Kūpuna. It costs somewhere around $10 for admission and I'd say it's right on the cusp of being worth it.  78 sites of interest have been identified including religious sites and shrines, house sites, agricultural terraces and fishponds. There is a waterfall in the back of the valley that you can jump into and go swimming.  It's also a lot like a Botanical Garden in the sense that there are more than 5,000 kinds of tropical and subtropical plants including native and endangered Hawaiian plants.  You can actually pick fruit and eat it, too, which is pretty cool.

Overall, it's a pretty fun place to visit for an afternoon walk, especially if you're already on the North Shore and looking for something to do other than the beach or historical town of Haleiwa.  It's especially good for old people who like plants or kids who can't sit still for more than 5 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Yardhouse and Beer Reviews

Until recently, beer was not considered by many to be a drink worth analyzing or pairing with good food.  Brewmasters have always played with flavors, but the public didn't really catch on to the enormous potential for beer until a few years ago.  Since discovering Yardhouse in Waikiki and Bar 35 in Chinatown, I decided to taste as many beers as I can, review them, and post about them.  Unfortunately, because of my triathlon training, I have not really been drinking too much beer.

Well, this weekend a couple of my friends are visiting from out of town and it gave me the perfect excuse to take them to Yardhouse (and Bar 35) and drink too much some delicious beer.  I think we tried so many that I will inevitably forget to include all of them.  However, there were a few distinct beers that were memorable and worth sharing.

Maui Coconut Porter - This beer pours a Coca Cola like dark, dark brown with a thick and frothy beige colored head. The aromas consist of vanilla, chocolate, lightly roasted malts, and a milk stout like sweetness. It smells like no other porter I've had. The flavors are of sweet and bitter chocolate, vanilla, slight coffee, and again a milk stout like sweetness. It has really good flavor the flavors are perfectly proportionate.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter - The aroma is not what I was expecting. Definitely dark chocolate. Strong roasted coffee/espresso. Very malty. Almost no hoppy scent. Hit with chocolate, roasted malts, and hops immediately upon opening. Great smelling porter

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout - This Oatmeal Stout poured black with a big puffy tan head and ample lacing.  It smelled of chocolate, bread, coffee with decent complexity.  The flavors were of more chocolate, coffee, chocolate milkshake. The payoff on this beer is the mouthfeel which was nice and creamy.

Maui Brewing Big Swell IPA - I don't like IPAs.  They are too hoppy for me and leave too much of a lingering bitterness in your mouth.  This IPA had NONE of those characteristics and is the only IPA I have liked.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I ordered a pint of it.  It had a lot of flavor and the aroma was still from the hops, but it had a really clean finish that left no bitter aftertaste.

Deschutes Inversion IPA - I did NOT like this IPA.  It was bitter and hoppy, but did have a lot of flavor.  The problem was the bitter aftertaste lingered forever and I needed something to clean my palate after I took a sip.

Anderson Valley Imperial IPA - This was sort of in the middle of the Big Swell and Inversion IPAs. It wasn't as hoppy and bitter as most IPAs, but it still had enough of a bite that many IPA drinkers would enjoy.

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale - Tastes like movie theater popcorn. Seriously. It was really delicious, though.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet Home Cafe

Americans have fondue, Japanese have shabu shabu, and the Taiwanese and Chinese have hot pot.  It all involves cooking thinly sliced chicken, beef, or pork, and other items such as cabbage or crab cakes in steaming pots of broth, but the similarities end there. While shabu shabu uses Japanese dashi-style broth, Taiwanese hot pot offers a wider range of soup styles, from spicy to lemongrass to curry.  Many islanders are more than familiar with shabu shabu, but hot pot has yet to reach that level of popularity. Well, the other day my friends and I tried Taiwanese hot pot and it was awesome.  It was just a really fun (and relatively inexpensive) experience for a group of people.  You can sit around, talk, BYOB, and cook whatever suits your fancy.

Sweet Home Cafe (map) is a complete and total hole-in-the-wall restaurant that is very easy to miss.  The only thing noticeable about this place is the massive line of people waiting outside.  Wait times vary, but it's not unusual to have to wait 45 minutes to get a seat.  That was the first thing that told me this place would be good.  When a local, run down restaurant in the corner of a parking lot is packed, you can be pretty confident the food is delicious.  In fact, they don't have a hostess at all.  You write your name on a clipboard hanging on the front door and wait until you're called.  Since this is a BYOB place, we just brought two 6-packs and drank while we waited.  No big deal.

The Hot Pot of Broth
Before you're called in, they will also ask you if you know what broth you want to order as well as what meats you want.  BE PREPARED.  This is a no nonsense place and they don't have time for your dilly-dallying.  So they have a few broths to choose from:  Spicy, Lemongrass, House Specialty, Curry, and Sour Cabbage. We had the spicy and lemongrass.  Both were delicious.  The waiter recommended trying to curry next time, though.  When you sit down, they bring out your broth and a few small plates of thinly sliced meat. We did beef and pork.
Refrigerators With Food to Cook
Then you can get up and go to the refrigerator and get anything you want.  Things are priced by the color of the plates.  So, for example, a blue plate is $2.95, green plate $3.95, and orange plate $4.95.  The plates vary by size and ingredient.  We went and got rice noodles, crab cakes, octopus, garlic tempura (fried garlic), fish balls, lobster balls, watercress, and some other stuff I don't remember.  There were plenty of CRAZY items that we were not brave enough to try, but everything we got (except the fish balls) were really good.  You can also get all sorts of spices and "add ons" for your meal.  For example, they have spicy garlic paste, green onions, thyme, garlic, red pepper, and other weird Asian stuff that I didn't ask about.

Then at the end of the meal, they bring FREE shave ice.  Now, admittedly it wasn't the best shave ice in the world, but it was good enough and it was the perfect palate cleanser after the meal.

Shave Ice

Electric Beach

When I was learning to scuba dive, one of my classes was over at a place called "Electric Beach."  I had never been there as this is a 40 minute drive from Honolulu.  It's named Electric Beach because of the Hawaiian Electric Power plant located across the street.  Anyway, it turns out the name of the beach is actually Kahe Point Beach Park.  This is one of the best snorkeling areas on the island and is located on the west side of O'ahu, just north of the Ko Olina Resorts.

The electric plant takes in the cold water and outflows clean warm water through two giant cooling pipes about 100 yards offshore.  At the openings of these pipes the water temperature is several degrees warmer than the surrounding ocean, which attracts scores of sea life. Electric Beach is arguably best suited for the intermediate to advanced level snorkeler as there is a moderate swim involved and no life guards are in the area.  If you have flippers, however, I think even beginners are probably okay if they go in a group.  The toughest part is that there is a strong current (created by the in/out flow of the pipe) that can present a challenge to swim against.

The water is about 30 feet deep at the opening of the pipes, giving you a bird’s eye view of the schooling fish. Large smooth boulders cover the pipes but most of the sea floor is made up of white sand and some coral flats. To get there you just take H-1 WEST until you pass Ko Olina resorts on your left.  Keep going another mile or two and the beach park is directly across from the power plant.  You can't miss it.  Enter the water at the small sand beach just to the right of the large pavilion. You'll see a bunch of scuba divers and people just hanging out and BBQ-ing on the grass and sand.  When we were there on Monday everyone was out with coolers and grills and big speakers enjoying Memorial Day.  

Word of caution: there’s certainly going to be some breaking waves near shore, so keep a hold of your mask and fins as you enter. The combination of the waves and sand beach make the water near shore very cloudy, but just keep swimming out and just past the waves the water will clear up dramatically. 

So you want me to jump in the big ocean and look for a couple of what? Pipes? Don't worry, finding these giant pipes is a lot easier than it sounds. Before getting in the water, look out into the ocean about 100 yards from shore. You’ll see what looks like two rivers colliding where the water is churning. It will look like a huge bubbling spring just off shore. Make a mental note of where the "spring” is located and how far out it is. When you get into the water you’ll be able to swim straight to the opening of the pipes.

The marine life out here is pretty awesome.  It really is like swimming through an aquarium.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of tropical fish swimming around in schools next to the pipe.  We saw eels, sea turtles, angel fish, and cormetfish.  There are also sea urchins and other cool stuff to see.  If you decide you want to snorkel and want to avoid the cost and hassle of going to Hanauma Bay where all the tourists go, then I highly recommend Electric Beach.  Just be aware that in addition to no lifeguard on duty, there are also no stores nearby to buy drinks or food so remember to bring a cooler with snacks.  You'll want to eat/drink something when you get out of the water.

Here is two-page list of fish you can expect to see in Hawaii with pictures of each fish (yes, the pdf is from Hanauma Bay, but the fish are seen at Electric Beach, too).

3660 On The Rise

One of the people visiting me this week has an aunt and uncle who live on O'ahu as well.  So earlier this week they invited us to dinner for last night.  I had never been to, or heard of, the restaurant, but it was only a short drive from my apartment.  The restaurant is called "3660 On The Rise" (3660 Waialae Avenue - map here).  It turns out the owner/chef is my friend's aunt-in-law's brother.  First of all, getting there is incredibly easy and there is a parking garage underneath the restaurant, which the restaurant will validate.  It's in the heart of Kaimuki.

The restaurant itself is pretty non-descript from the outside.  It's on the corner of Waialae and Wilhelmina and just looks like your average restaurant.  When we walked inside, the atmosphere was really nice.  Everything was clean and perfectly arranged.  It had a swanky feel to it that made for a nice night out.  It was also quiet, which I appreciated.  The dining room is set up well in terms of seating as well.  I don't like when nice restaurants try to pack tables close together in hopes of fitting more people in.  3660 On The Rise has a spacious dining room so you don't feel crammed in like sardines.  The tables are large too, which is good because the food portions are huge and there are water and wine glasses on the table.

Anyway, we got a bunch of appetizers and every single one was delicious. We had the Ahi Katsu and Short Rib and Rougie Fois Gras Tortellini.  Both were absolutely phenomenal and I highly recommend both.  Ordering the main course was the toughest part.  Everything on the menu looked so amazing, I couldn't decide.  The restaurant offers a Monthly Special that comes with a salad, main entree, and a dessert for a pretty decent price compared to everything else.  The main entree was a portuguese sausage-crusted mahi mahi with a peach cobbler dessert.  However, I was ultimately swayed by the Applewood Smoked Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with a Brandy Green Peppercorn Sauce. Yes, that's correct.  Everything came out perfectly and was delicious.  Since my triathlon diet had already gone to shit for the evening, I decided to continue the punishment and order the Mile-High Waialae Pie for dessert.  It was MASSIVE and enough for 2-3 people to share.  I demolished it and ate the whole thing by myself.  I figured if I was going to abandon my diet for the evening, I was going to do it right.

The restaurant serves Euro-Island cuisine that reflects local flavors enhanced with the diverse cuisines of Europe and Asia. The plate presentations reflect many colors with the use of local ingredients and they have a comprehensive wine list with pairing recommendations for every dish.  It's a pretty awesome place.

Headnote of the Week

Damn hippies:

Best interests of seven-year-old boy required that his 60-year-old maternal grandparents, who had been asked by father to take temporary charge of child after mother's death two years before and who had provided "stable, dependable, conventional, middle-class, middlewest background", be awarded permanent custody as against father who had since remarried, in view of likelihood of seriously disrupting and disturbing effect upon child's development which could result from child's return to "unstable, unconventional, arty, Bohemian, and probably intellectually stimulating" household of father. Painter v. Bannister, 140 N.W.2d 152 (Iowa 1966