Countdown

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Even though I am spending my Christmas freezing my butt off in Delaware and Chicago, that doesn't mean I have forgotten the Hawaiian Christmas spirit.  I don't have anything to write, so I will just post this video:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

iChristmas

Using only iPads and iPhones, these musicians play some traditional Christmas music.  This is really cool.

Bad Ass Senator

This afternoon I was looking up information about the Akaka Bill that would grant nationhood status on Native Hawaiians.  In reading about Sen. Dan Akaka, I realized I didn't know anything about Hawaii's other U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, also a Democrat.  This guy is a serious bad ass.  First of all, he is like a million years old and should have retired long ago.  I am a firm believer in term limits so I don't think he should be allowed to be a Senator anymore.  But that's not the point.  Here's some background: Inouye has been a U.S. senator since 1963, and is currently the most senior senator after the death of Robert Byrd of West Virginia. He is also the second longest serving U.S. Senator in history after Byrd.  Inouye has represented Hawaii in the U.S. Congress since it achieved statehood in 1959, serving as Hawaii's first U.S. Representative and later a senator. Inouye was the first Japanese-American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and later the first in the U.S. Senate.

Ok, but none of that makes him anything special.  I was thinking, "ok, great, another worthless career politician."  Not even close.  I could never do his story justice, so I am just going to copy and paste the Wikipedia entry, which was based on a documentary of his life.  Here it is (I highly recommend reading the whole thing):


He was at the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 as a medical volunteer (he wasn't in the military because the military banned Japanese-Americans from serving). In 1943, when the U.S. Army dropped its ban on Japanese-Americans, Inouye curtailed his pre-medical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army. He was assigned to the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which became the most-highly decorated unit in the history of the Army. During the World War II campaign in Europe, he received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Cross, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Clinton in June 2000.

Inouye was promoted to the rank of sergeant within his first year, and he was given the role of platoon leader. In 1944, he spent two weeks in France searching for the Lost Battalion, a Texas battalion that was surrounded by German forces. At one point while leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms.


On April 21, 1945, Inouye was wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near Terenzo called Colle Musatello. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack the gunners and was shot in the stomach. Ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his M1 Thompson machine gun. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively "clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore". Inouye's horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye managed to pry the live grenade from his useless right hand and transfer it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye managed at last to toss the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroy it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, "nobody had called off the war".

The remainder of Inouye's mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him. Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton.




I don't care what his policies are, this guy is a bad ass.

Spam Musubi

My judge and I have talked numerous times about different Hawaiian foods that I have either tried or should try. He has regularly insisted that I try spam musubi.  You may remember that it is also one of the Top 5 traditional Hawaiian foods (profiled by 5@5) I wrote about before.  Well, today, my judge brought me one.  Here are my thoughts:  it doesn't taste terrible.  In fact, the spam adds some flavor to the rice, which is otherwise pretty bland.  That said, it doesn't look appetizing, AT ALL.  It is kind of slimy and has a weird texture.  One person likened the taste to a hot dog or bologna.  I more or less agree with the processed bologna, but not a hot dog.  Spam is much saltier and slimy.  Like I said, it's not terrible, so I feel comfortable recommending that you try it at least once.  If you're here visiting or something, give it a whirl.  I don't think I will make it a regular part of my diet, though.

Yes, this is an accurate depiction...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Taxes and Debt

This is going to be a rant.  It is also going to be long.  Sorry.  On the bright side, it will be controversial and may even spark a few comments.  This post was inspired by 1) the recent debate over the "Bush-era" tax cuts, 2) the vitriol that the media spews toward the "mega wealthy," 3) the emails I keep getting from the bank about re-paying my student loans, 4) an article I read on MSNBC today about the crushing increase in student loan debt plaguing the U.S., and 5) a need to fill my weekly "current events" quota.

Let me start with some quotes:
1) Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards — a debt fast approaching $1 trillion with no end in sight. (Source: MSNBC)

2) The debate that’s now got Washington tied up in knots is whether to keep the Bush-era tax breaks in place for households with more than $250,000 in income; the super wealthy ($200,000 for individuals) (Source: Forbes.com)

3) At a time when this nation has a $13 trillion national debt and a widening gap between the very rich and everyone else, the dumbest thing we could possibly do is to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to some of the wealthiest people in America. (Source: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders via Washington Times).

4) Is this really the choice we currently face—between dour, flinty responsibility or profligate favors for the fortunate? (Source: Newsweek)

5) Message to Republicans: Tax cuts for the rich were so important to you that you took the country hostage, you refused to help the unemployed, you obstructed everything to get them. (Source: Huffington Post)

6) In 2008, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 38.0 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 20.0 percent of adjusted gross income. The top 5 percent earned 34.7 percent of the nation's adjusted gross income, but paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes. (Source: Tax Foundation)

First of all, I refuse to believe that if you make $200,000 you are in the top 3% of all income earners in America (or, at the very least, that you feel like you're in the top 3%).  But all right, let's assume that's true.  There is one thing that is never talked about when criticizing the "rich" for getting "unfair tax breaks:" Student Loan Debt. Here's my gripe: If you're super rich making $200,000 a year, chances are you went to college, and probably, grad school (i.e. law school, med school, or business school).  Also, chances are, you took out student loans at some point in order to finance your education.  The cost of acquiring a degree "has risen at twice the rate of inflation, dramatically undermining any value" of a college degree.  In fact, the average law student has $100,000 in student loan debt! (Source: Forbes). This does not even include undergraduate loans.  Student loan debt is so bad, in fact, that college grads don't pull even with high school grads in lifetime income until age 33 on average! (Source: same Forbes article).  I don't even want to think about what it is for people who went to grad school.

Still with me?  See where I'm going with this?  If you make $200,000, you took out significant loans to get the job that pays you that much.  On top of that, the rest of the country is pissed at you so they decide that you should be taxed more heavily than anyone else.  And they'll criticize you for it along the way.  Now comes the really f*ed up part.  If you make more than $70,000, you can't deduct ANY of your debt. Here's how that works:  The maximum amount of student loan interest you can claim as a tax deduction is limited to $2,500.  The deduction is also limited by your total income. If your income is under $55,000 (or $115,000 for married couples filing a joint return), then you can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest.  If your income is over $55,000 but under $70,000 ($115,000 to $145,000 MFJ), then your deduction for student loan interest will be prorated.  If your income is over $70,000 ($145,000 MFJ), then your student loan interest is not deductible at all. (Source: IRS)

So you're criticized for making a decent living. Then you're forced to fork over nearly 40% of your income, yet no one ever bothers to consider the crushing debt you incurred to get to where you are.  Never mind the hard work and personal sacrifice it takes to actually make that much money.  Are there some trust fund babies?  Of course.  But the vast majority (I'd say 99%) of the people I went to law school with were not trust fund babies.  In other words, they personally financed their education with loans (something anyone can do) to give themselves the chance to make a good living. Then, as soon as you start making money, the government says, "okay, you not only have to pay back your loans, but you also have to pay higher taxes AND you don't get to deduct that student loan debt AND by the way, your student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy).  So it's not as simple as "rich people can afford it."  

I accept that the financial burden on someone making $200,000 (i.e 35% tax) is different than someone making $50,000 (25% tax), especially if you have kids (of course, here is where I would extol the virtue of condoms and keeping it in your pants until you are financially stable...but that's a post for a different day).  So I agree that if you're making that much money, you can afford a SLIGHTLY higher tax.  That said, if the desire is to punish trust fund babies (something I don't think we should do, but that seems to be where the hate comes from), then why not allow people with crushing debt to deduct their loan payments? You wouldn't be earning that much if you didn't incur that much debt. You should be allowed to deduct 100% of your student loan interest and, say, 50% of your student loan principal payments every year...no matter how much you make!  It is complete and total crap that someone making $150,000 with at least that much in debt has to pay higher taxes AND student loan payments AND get criticized for being successful. 

And you wonder why I get you that ugly ass sweater for Christmas...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Operating Budget

Today, the Governor released his proposed operating budget for the next two years.  I have some thoughts on this, and I will share them eventually, but for now enjoy the chart (click to enlarge):

Pineapple Express

No, this post is not about the movie celebrating stoners.  Instead, it turns out that there is a weather phenomenon known as the Pineapple Express.  Pineapple Express is a non-technical term for a meteorological phenomenon characterized by a strong and persistent flow of atmospheric moisture and associated heavy rainfall from the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands and extending to any location along the Pacific coast of North America. Have you watched the news at all in the last couple days?  Surely you've seen that California is getting pounded with rain, snow, and mudslides.  Just yesterday I wrote about Hawai'i having issues with rain.  It seems as though this is something someone invented to explain the unexplainable a legit phenomenon.  


According to Wikipedia, "a Pineapple Express is driven by a strong, southern branch of the Polar jetstream and is usually marked by the presence of a surface frontal boundary which is typically either slow or stationary, with waves of low pressure traveling along its axis. Each of these low pressure systems brings enhanced rainfall."  Go figure. I only found this to be cool because it has been raining non-stop here the last couple days and the name of the cause is very closely associated with my blog.  I am pretty sure, in fact, that someone came up with the name only after reading my blog.  They saw my post yesterday, saw the name Pineapple Project, and invented "Pineapple Express."  See, who said blogging was a waste of time?  I am changing names of weather patterns.  Maybe one day I'll even get my own hurricane!  


Okay, not really.  It seems the Pineapple Express has been a thing since the 50s.  In 2006, The Puget Sound region from Olympia, Washington to Vancouver, BC received several inches of rain per day in November 2006 from a series of successive Pineapple Express storms that caused massive flooding in all major regional rivers and mudslides which closed the mountain passes. During the second week of January, 1952, a series of "Hawaiian" storms swept into Northern California, causing widespread flooding around the Bay Area.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How The Courts Work

Law school and the legal profession are unique beasts.  If you're not engaged in it, you really don't understand it.  My mom, even after hearing me talk about it for the last several years still doesn't fully understand what the hell I'm talking about.  I'll throw out random acronyms (i.e. OCI, which means "on campus interviews") or I'll discuss how clerking works or I'll point out that lawyers have been some of the hardest hit by the current recession. It just doesn't sink in.  I never fully grasped that most people don't have any exposure to the legal profession outside of Law & Order.  Sure, maybe you've paid a traffic ticket.  Or maybe you've seen "And Justice For All" or watched "The Paper Chase," but unless you've been in the thick of it, whether by dating a law student/lawyer or being the parent or best friend of one, you have no idea.  Here's the problem: if you're the law student/lawyer, you forget that people have no idea.  You assume everyone knows what "Skadden" is.  You assume everyone knows why clerks don't need to be licensed in the state where they're clerking.  You assume everyone reads "Above the Law" and knows what T-14 means.  I assume most law students/lawyers assume these things because we're narcissistic.  The reality is, though, that normal people don't have a clue and don't really care.


Since moving to Hawaii, I have encountered the most non-law affiliated people I've known since college.  When people find out I'm a lawyer, they inevitably ask what kind of law I practice.  Fair question.  When I respond, "appellate law" or "I'm a clerk" or "I work for the Judiciary" I get a courtesy "oh cool" but a clearly blank expression explains it all.  It seems like unless you are a prosecutor or defense attorney or "corporate lawyer" no one has any idea what the hell a lawyer does.  Last week I had a conversation with someone who didn't really understand how the U.S. court system worked.  It occurred to me that maybe, as law students and lawyers, we take for granted that people had basic civics in elementary school didn't go to law school.  I don't think you need a law degree to know the basics, but alas, I am increasingly being proven wrong as I regularly encounter confusion from people who don't know how the U.S. court system is set up.

So here is my effort at explaining it.  The U.S. judicial system is composed of a federal system and state system.  The federal court system is divided into numerous geographic units and various levels of hierarchy. Similarly, each state has its own court system with various local "trial" courts and heirarchical "appellate" courts.  Under this dual federal/state court structure, the federal courts decide federal law or issues that arise under the federal constitution.  The highest court of each state, (usually) the State Supreme Court, has the ultimate authority to interpret State law.  For example, if you get arrested for a crime (generally) or you want to sue someone who lives in the same state as you for money (generally), you'd be in state court.  If you get arrested for being part of a multi-state gang conspiracy or you sue someone who lives in a different state from you for more than $75,000, you'll (generally) be in federal court.


The federal judiciary and the individual state judicial systems are each constructed like a pyramid. Entry-level courts at both the state and federal levels are trial courts, in which witnesses are called, other evidence is presented and the fact-finder (a jury or sometimes a judge) is called upon to decide issues of fact based on the law (i.e. were you really drunk? was the light really red?  did you have a contract?).  At the top of each pyramid structure is the court of last resort (at the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court; at the state level, the state supreme court) which has the authority to interpret the law of that jurisdiction. In most states and in the federal system there is also a mid-level court of appeals.  When you lose in the lower courts, you can "appeal" to the higher court and ask the higher court to say that the lower court got it wrong.  Any court has the power to declare a law or government action to be unconstitutional, subject to review by a higher-level court.

Below is a graph of the FEDERAL SYSTEM:


Here is a a graph of the HAWAI'I SYSTEM (NOTE: this is a couple years old.  The Intermediate Court of Appeals has 6 judges, the Supreme Court currently has 4 sitting justices and one vacant spot waiting to be filled):


Update:  Here is a less detailed chart that makes the court hierarchy a little more clear (click to enlarge):


There is so much more I could try to explain, but hopefully this gives some idea.

Headnote of the Week

Normally I wait until Friday (or Thursday on a furlough week) to post the "Headnote of the Week" but this one was too good to hold until then.  Not only does this bring me back to studying for the bar exam and the "wild animals" rule, but I always laugh at the prospect of people who think it's a good idea to keep wild animals as pets (Roy, anyone?).

Under Illinois law, a person who keeps a tiger in his backyard is strictly liable for the injuries caused by it.
Doe v. City of Chicago, 360 F.3d 667 (7th Cir. 2004)

Rain Wreaks Havoc

99% of what makes Hawai'i great is the weather.  The average temperature year-round is 82-89 degrees.  It is sunny with a light breeze.  Sure, you'll get the occasional rain shower, but never anything too depressing.  It usually lasts an hour or so and then everyone goes about their business enjoying the sunny skies.  Not this weekend.  I think I've written before that the winter months are Hawaii's rainy season.  All this really means is that instead of 83 and sunny every day, you may see one or two rainy days.  Small price to pay for paradise.  Well, this weekend shit went haywire.  It didn't just rain, it poured.  If you read this Star Advertiser article, you'd think it was doomsday in Hawaii.

Backed up Sewer
Apparently, Hawaiians don't really know what to do in the rain because I had some errands to run yesterday and there was NO ONE around.  It was actually really great.  There were no confused people running into me.  Nobody had trouble figuring out which pedal was the gas and which was the break because there was no one on the road.  I suspect they were all afraid they'd melt.  Fine by me.  I found out another reason people weren't out is that they also might have checked the news.  It was flooding.  A lot.  Roads were closed because they were under water.  Water came up to my tired.  Cars were washed away.  Honolulu is at the base of the mountains so all the water runs downhill.  Anyone who has ever had a house at the base of a hill or mountain knows that when it rains really really hard, you get mudslides and pools of water than form at the bottom.  It wasn't so bad that you couldn't get around, but there was also no real need to wade through everything.  For me, though, it was perfect.  I didn't have to deal with the throngs of idiots that occupy Hawaii's Wal-Mart.

Traffic Caused by a Mudslide
What I thought was particularly crazy was just how unprepared the landscape was for such a beating.  The water just wasn't draining or going anywhere.  The sewers all got backed up so the water just started pooling up in the middle of major roads.  This caused parts of the road to just crumble away.  I've never really seen asphalt just break apart that easily.  All over the island construction crews were working to fix busted roads and clear debris from the streets, and trying to restore power lines that fell.  This morning on my way to work there were still crews working on broken power lines and busted sewers, and it's still a little cloudy, but I think the majority of it is over.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Work Your Shit Out

As a child of divorce, I understand that sometimes people stupidly enter into romantic relationships without fully thinking things through.  I have several friends who got married too young and whose marriages didn't survive law school or aren't going to survive their first two years as lawyers. Or maybe one of the spouses decided that the other one was no fun anymore and went and found someone else who was more fun.  That said, there is no reason your divorce has to be ugly.  When you get divorced, work your shit out.  I could give you 100 reasons why working things out will make you a happier person and why being mad at each other only does you, and everyone around you, more harm.  But this post is not about your happiness. I do not care about your happiness.  At all.  In fact, I think far too many people have an idealized view of marriage are desperate and will jump into a wedding with the first person they see (i.e. women ages 24-27), which is really why so many marriages fall apart.  So to those people, I say you get what you deserve.

My message tonight, though, is motivated by where I am right now. Sitting at my desk on Friday night at 8pm.  Now, many of my law school friends are currently working 70+ hours a week at a BigLaw job in New York, Chicago,  Los Angeles, or San Francisco.  Yeah...well...they expected to be slaves work late at night and on weekends.  I am not at work this late because I have a slave-driver boss who emails me every 30 minutes asking me to tie his shoes.  No, I am here because a couple can't work their shit out.

Hawaii family law is ridiculous.  Among its many asinine rules is one that requires family courts to divide the parties' property within one-year of the divorce decree being entered.  Seems fair enough.  When you're divorced, a decree is entered saying you no longer have to put up with each other. Well, sometimes couples do stupid, petty shit to each other that lead to delay.  So sometimes the family courts grant the divorce but then decide issues of property division at a later date.

Here's why this is a problem in Hawaii:  If the family court does not divide the parties' property within one year from the date of the divorce decree, they cannot do it. Ever.  The family court loses jurisdiction. I know you're asking: Oh my gosh, so what happens?  Well, for starters, no one knows.  That's right, the courts here haven't really come up with an answer.  Basically, the judges try to find ways to show, in the record, that the family court "implicitly" divided the property before one year was up.  Yes, I agree, that IS cutting the bologna thin.  Essentially, there are cases that say as long as the court "implicitly divided" the property before one year was up, then it can "disburse" the property any time it wants.  So what does any of this have to do with me and my Friday night?  Well, I am sitting at my desk trying to find ANY evidence that the family court "implicitly" divided this couple's house.  Yep, this couple is fighting over a house because the husband deeded it to his friend for $1.00 and the wife is a little pissed about it.

So look, when you get divorced (and if you're a lawyer reading this, chances are you'll get divorced someday), do a recent law school graduate a favor and work your shit out.  Be reasonable.  Don't drag things through the court system just to piss each other off.  Let me go home on a Friday night.  Here, I will even offer you some assistance.  You can call the guy below (note: I do NOT actually endorse this guy.  This is a real lawyer that should be punched in the face for representing everything that is wrong with lawyers...but, to be fair, if this couple had hired him, I would not be here right now and they would not have wasted over $73,000 in attorneys' fees):

Headnote of the Week

A writer of parody must be wary as his shafts may miss the mark, be cruel without purpose, and inflict real hurt where only laughter was intended.
Salomone v. Macmillan Pub. Co., Inc., 411 N.Y.S.2d 105 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1978)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Boom. Lawyered.

It's official. I was sworn in this afternoon and am now officially a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois.  Appellate judges from any State are allowed to swear in attorneys for Illinois with the right paperwork, certification, etc.  So after oral arguments this afternoon my judge administered the Illinois oath in the Hawaii Supreme Court.  It was my own private swearing in, which was cool.  Also, my judge made a point to say a few nice things about me right before, which was unexpected but incredibly thoughtful.

I have written multiple times, I think, that although Hawaii has some back asswards ways of doing things, one thing they cannot be faulted for is their "aloha spirit" and family-focused approach to each other.  My swearing in experience only affirmed this spirit.  Earlier in the week, unbeknownst to me, our judicial assistant sent an email to everyone on the Court telling them that we were doing my swearing in after oral arguments and inviting everyone to come over and congratulate me.  I had two people come up to me and apologize that they weren't going to be around today, but they just wanted to congratulate me.  When the time finally came, there were maybe 12 people who came over to say congratulations and observe my giving the oath.  After I took the oath, I got three leis.  No kidding.  Getting a lei is a sign of congratulations, achievement, and family.  Sure, when the Chief Justice of the Hawai'i Supreme Court was sworn in, he received about 100, but I am well on my way!

Being able to share the experience with people who treated me like family was great.  Obviously all of my Chicago lawyer friends were already sworn in back home and I couldn't go.  So it was nice to be able to get it done here in such a great environment.  Despite everything we read about lawyers, everything bar associations across the country are doing that degrade the profession, and every lawyer in advertisements giving the legal profession a bad name, I do still have an idealized view of the law and the role of lawyers in society.  I look forward to a career as a lawyer.

Christmas Bar Crawl - Beer Reviews

As I wrote last week, I went on a Christmas bar crawl with a local homebrewing club.  I convinced a friend (let's call her...Cameron) to come with me and we were joined later by someone else (let's call her...Brooke).  Although she's great company, at 5'0'' tall and about 97lbs, my friend Cameron does not make the best drinking companion (she'll argue till the death, though, that she can drink anyone under the table).  I learned this last Saturday night when I had about 2-3 beers for every one of her drinks.  Fortunately, this gave me the opportunity to expand my beer reviews.  Unfortunately for me, this led to a few hazy memories of my liquid aloha-filled evening.  Nonetheless, it was a fun night where I got to sample a few new beers.


Here is the list of new beers, but you can read previous reviews here and here.  In no particular order, they are:


Primo Island LagerPrimo is Hawai’i’s original beer, dating back to 1897. This tasted very similar to a Longboard Lager or Stella Artois.  It had a light, smooth taste, golden color, and it's brewed with pure Hawaiian cane sugar. It was the perfect beer to just chill on a back deck and enjoy some breezy 80-degree weather. 


As with any Hawaiian beer, it's all about the culture.  The breweries try to embody the spirit of the islands, the people, and the culture.  One way the company tries to embody that spirit is on their website under a section called "Who Is Primo."  There, they profile various people from the island - a 75-year-old convenience store woman who is known for selling "her famous li hing mui, salty-sweet crack seed and cold Primo," a surf board shaper who carries on a family tradition, or an antique dealer who's been operating since the 70s.  


Lindeman's Pomme Lambic - Lambic is a "spontaneously fermenting" style of wheat beer unique to Belgium. Pomme is a type of lambic brewed with apples.  During the fermentation process, Brewers pump the wort into cooling vessels, open the windows and let the soon-to-be beer cool overnight where it's "inoculated by the yeast and other microbial flora of the surrounding air," according to Lindemans.  The Pomme Lambic was good, but a little too sweet.  It tasted much more like a cider than a hoppy beer.  The apple flavor was unmistakable and while good, it was a little overwhelming.  The bottle itself is unique in that it has a foil wrapper over a cork that must be opened with a wine bottle opener.  The most disappointing thing about this beer is its alcohol content.  At only 3.5% abv, it doesn't have anything to help overcome its embarrassingly sweet taste.


Hawai'i Nui Hapa Brown Ale - This is also a beer made by a Hawaiian brewery.  At the recent World Beer Cup, this beer won the Silver Award for Brown Ales and I can see why.  First of all, it has a very smooth taste with slight hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.  Small-batches are brewed with two-row caramel, roasted and chocolate malts. Then they use Hawaiian water to finish the fermenting process.  It's really good.


Now I know what you're thinking: Tell me more about this World Beer Cup.  Well, in 2010, 3,330 beers from 642 breweries located in 44 countries were grouped into 90 style categories. Entrants were judged by an international assemblye of 183 judges from 26 countries.  Basically, the mission is to educate the world about beer and bring together a variety of traditions from countries around the world.


Maui Coconut Porter - This one immediately threw me off because it was served in a can.  Very rarely have I seen porters or stouts served in a can (yes, I know you can get Guinness in a can). I said rarely.  Anyway, this Porter from the Maui Brewing Company pours a deep black-brown, with an opacity to it which causes the edges to glow slightly when held to the light.  Taste is smooth and full, and again extremely well mingled between the sweetness of coconut and chocolate, and the slightly more astringent roastiness.  This was another delicious beer.


Gordon Biersch Winterbock - Ever had Sam Adams winter lager? This tastes the same.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Non-Sequitur

Non-Sequitur is a latin term that literally means "it does not follow."  In other words, this video is completely unrelated to anything Hawaiian.  I saw this video a couple years ago, but thought of it this morning.  It still makes me laugh.  It just goes to show that lawyers can be useful in all aspects of your life!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Supreme Court Christmas Party

When I wrote before that Christmas in Hawaii is a big deal, I wasn't kidding.  In addition to a Christmas lights parade downtown, there is also a boat parade showcasing Christmas lights, we had a massive office party with 100+ people last week, and yesterday the Supreme Court had its own lunchtime Christmas party.  Although it was nice, I don't think it holds a candle to ours.  It did last a lot longer, though.  We showed up at 11:30 and didn't get out of there until about 2:00.  The entrees were all catered and thus not nearly as much homemade food.  There was slightly more traditional Hawaiian food, though.
Christmas Tree in Supreme Court Lobby
I tried also Poi for the first time.  It was an experience, that's for sure.  Poi is a very traditional Hawaiian dish made from the Taro plant.  Poi is produced by mashing the cooked corm (baked or steamed) of the taro plant until it becomes a highly viscous fluid. Water is added during mashing and again just before eating, to achieve a desired consistency, which can range from liquid to dough-like (poi can be known as two-finger or three-finger, alluding to how many fingers you would have to use to eat it, depending on its consistency).  It's like a paste.  I thought it tasted terrible and had a bitter, sour taste.  Don't tell any Hawaiians I said that, though.  They'll kick me off the island.  I was sitting next to our secretary who basically pour herself a bowl and ate it like soup.  She ate it ALL.  Poi is like sex to these people...they love it.


Poi
Anyway, the rest of the party involved more door prizes.  Everyone picked a number out of a hat and then received a corresponding gift.  I got a big coffee mug and some Hawaiian-made coffee.  There were also gift cards, homemade energy bars (that are quite delicious - they're made from oats, chocolate chips, and molasses), and see's candy.  Unlike our office party where everyone walked around and mingled, the Supreme Court party had plenty of tables where people could sit and talk with their table.  While people sat and ate, there was also a professional hula dancer who performed.  Finally, they also did a law-related movie trivia game.  The twist, though, was that members of the judiciary would act out scenes from movies and the tables, as a team, had to guess the name of the movie and one of the actors in the scene.  Our table was full of judges and it was VERY competitive.  We were actually in first place throughout the game, but then ended in a tie for first.  It came down to a tie breaker, which was to guess the number of minutes Chief Justice Recktenwald has been in office.  We lost.  Very disappointing, especially because everyone on the winning team received gift cards to various places around Honolulu. I hate losing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Bar Crawl - Bar List

I am naturally a shy person; however, I am also a big believer in putting yourself out there, taking risks, and meeting new people.  This is especially important when moving to a new city (which I have done 6 times in the last 8 years).  Consequently, a few weeks ago I joined a homebrewing club.  The group regularly gets together and shares homemade beer and snacks at someone's house or has group outings that are based around beer.  This weekend there was a bar crawl where the plan was to partake in beer specials at a variety of bars in Chinatown.  There were maybe 50 people who showed up, all wearing various Christmas costumes. My friends and I did not get the memo and showed up dressed normally.  Oh well, it was still fun.


We started at Don Ho's at Aloha Tower.  From there, we went to Bar 35 where I got to sample some more beer on the massive 196-beer list.  After that, we went to Murphy's Irish bar.  Finally, we ended the night back at Aloha Tower and the Gordon Biersch brewery.  Overall, it was a fun night.  Aloha Tower is right on the water, so when we were at Don Ho's and Gordon Biersch, we sat outside on the deck, drank beer, and watched the boat parade.  What's a boat parade?  Exactly what it sounds like.  There were more than a dozen sailboats and yachts sailing around the harbor decked out with Christmas lights.

Picture from Don Ho's deck
Since I have never been to some of these places, here is my review.  You'll have to forgive me, but my memory of the bars gets a little hazier as the evening wore on.  Without further ado:

Don Ho's:  This bar and grill opened in 1998 and is located right on the water at Aloha Tower.  There is both an outdoor and indoor bar serving typical bar food.  I ordered the kalua pork sliders, which were decent, but nothing to write home about.  The bar prides itself on its entertainment calendar.  They bring in singers and performers as well as host karaoke weekly.  Don Ho was apparently a big musician here and until his death in 2007, he spent five nights a week, center stage behind his Hammond Organ, singing some of his favorite songs and "talking story" with his audience.  When we were there, there was a chorus/choir of elementary school-age children singing Christmas carols.


Bar 35:  I have previously described this bar as a lounge with an outdoor patio and indoor couches.  Every Wednesday from 6-8pm there is a House of Brews beer tasting event with delicious pizza.  On Saturday, everyone hung around outside and drank beer on what was a gorgeous 76-degree night in Honolulu.  It is a really chill environment.  I think some nights they have live music, but when we showed up at 8:30pm on Saturday night, it was dead inside.  The beers can be expensive ($9), but they have happy hour Saturday night where you can find 130 beers that cost only $4.  They also have $3 vodka martinis.  One other fun fact: if you watched Hawaii Five-0 on Monday night (12/13), Bar 35 was actually a scene in the show.  If you are interested, you can watch it online at CBS.com.


Murphy's:  I had been here once before for happy hour and was not overly impressed.  When I went on Saturday night, though, I thought it was a great bar.  The bartenders were friendly and talkative, despite the fact that it was busy.  The service was phenomenal, despite it being crowded.  The beer prices were nothing special, but the environment was worth it.  If you like Irish pubs, you have basically two options.  They are actually across the street from each other: O'Tool's and Murphy's.  O'Tool's allows people to smoke inside.  Murphy's does not.  Murphy's is also much more well-lit inside and has less of a "dive bar" atmosphere.  The only downside to Murphy's is that the bartenders did not know how to properly pour a Guinness.  Yes, at an Irish pub they didn't know to pour halfway, let sit, finish pour.  What can I say, it's Hawaii.

Inside Murphy's
Gordon Biersch: This brewery originated in Palo Alto, CA, but currently operates 29 restaurants in the U.S., including Honolulu. Additionally, two Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants operate in Taiwan.  The idea behind the brewery is to serve traditional German beer.  They admit they don't do fruit-infused wheat beers or 100 varieties from around the world.  The brewery here is also at Aloha Tower and has both indoor and outdoor seating.  It is right next to Don Ho's, but I would recommend Gordon Biersch.  The service was a little better, it is much bigger so it is less crowded, and the prices are slightly better.  The menu options at Gordon Biersch is also much better.


Inside Gordon Biersch

Overall, the Saturday bar crawl was a lot of fun.  The best part was that you can walk between all of the bars without a problem at all.  All of Chinatown is also covered with Christmas lights this time of year and while it was weird to see Christmas lights in shorts, it was really pretty to see the city all lit up.  If you're in the mood for a Chinatown adventure, I recommend doing this lineup of bars and sampling the cuisine as well as the brews. 

Wahoo's Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos
I have now eaten at Wahoo's Fish Tacos twice and the best I can say about this place is that it's "okay."  Although there are a few decent places (i.e. Cholo's on the North Shore), Hawaii is not known for its Mexican food.  In downtown Honolulu, Wahoo's is one of your only options.  I don't recommend their chips and salsa, AT ALL.  The chips are stale and the salsa is bland.  The fish tacos were also not particularly appetizing.  The fish was dry and the portions were small.  One nice thing about this place is that you can order your food "a la carte," which means "without beans and rice."  I have never been a huge fan of refried beans and rice.  So it's nice that you don't have to pay for it if you're not going to eat it.

The best thing I have tried thus far is the burrito. They have chicken, steak, and fish burritos.  I have had the fish and a chicken/steak combo.  I recommend the chicken/steak combo.  Also, get your burrito "wet."  A wet burrito, like the one pictured below, is simply a burrito that they smother is a spicy green chile sauce.  If you absolutely love spicy food, you may be disappointed.  There is not much "kick" to it.  That said, it is hearty and has a good flavor.  If you're visiting and desperately need a Mexican fix, I recommend waiting until you make it to the North Shore.  If you absolutely cannot wait, then stop by Wahoo's.

"Wet" Fish Burrito

Friday, December 10, 2010

Heavy Rain

Thursday night through Friday afternoon saw a major thunderstorm for the first time since I've been in Hawaii.  It made for a very wet furlough Friday.  Thunderstorms are pretty typical in the midwest so I wasn't all that surprised when I saw lightning and heard thunder.  However, in Hawaii those things are apparently rare.  The winter is Hawaii's rainy season, and it has rained a few times in the last month or two, but nothing unusual in my opinion.  The last two days, though, have been pretty crazy.  There has been a constant, heavy rain.  So much so, in fact, that the Department of Heath actually issued an advisory to Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui and Moloka'i to stay out of any water that is brown.

The Department warning says, "The public is advised to stay out of flood waters and storm water runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, chemicals, and associated flood debris. The health department warning says boaters, swimmers and surfers should stay out of coastal waters if they are turbid and brown."

I previously wrote about Leptosperosis and its prevalence in Hawaii.  I was fortunate that I did not contract it when I went cliff jumping at Maunawili Falls, but I think this advisory is enough to convince me that I won't be going back in the near future.

Five Traditional Hawaiian Foods

I was randomly reading CNN.com today and saw a column called "5@5" which is a daily food-related blog that compiles lists by chefs, writers, foodies, and other self-important people who think they know food.  I have never read it before, but the headline on the front page of CNN.com was "Five Traditional Hawaiian Foods." I was intrigued.  The list was compiled by Carol Wallack who is the executive chef and owner of sola in Chicago, Illinois. The writers at 5@5 decided to focus on Hawaii in the midst of a cold spell hitting...well...the rest of the country.  They were longing for the warmth of Hawaii.  While I didn't come up with this list, I have certainly come across all of the items on it and have eaten most of them.  I have not eaten Spam yet and don't really have plans to.  Anyway, without further ado:


Five Traditional Hawaiian Foods:


1. Kalua pork
"Kalua pork, unlike the way it sounds does not have Kahlua, the liqueur, in it. It's pork butt baked in an underground oven called an imu. If you don’t have an imu, you can replicate the flavor by seasoning and wrapping the butt in banana leaves and baking it, then smoking it in a regular smoker. You can pull the pork and mix with herbs,  and put the meat into pot stickers. They are served with a mango and kumquat salsa which really says Hawaii with fruity deliciousness. It’s about the only way I’ll eat pork, besides bacon of course."  [Ed. Note: This is seriously delicious].


2. Poke
"Poke (pronounced po-kay) is my way of having just another form of Hawaiian tuna to eat, and I serve it with avocado which is my second favorite food! It’s so popular at sola that it’s been on the menu since we opened. The tuna is mixed with a hijiki (seaweed) salad layered with avocado and sushi rice, garnished with wasabi tobiko, sweet soy, wasabi oil and scallions. It doesn’t get much better than that. Everyone loves fresh Ahi tuna, and the best is right off the dock in Honolulu at the auctions." [Ed. Note: when I first moved to Hawaii and was invited to Justice Duffy's house to watch football, a local friend suggested I bring this instead of typical "chips and salsa."  This is something you will see at almost any party.  If it's fresh, it can be quite good].

Poke
3. Pineapple
"Pineapple just makes everyone think of Hawaii and it can be used in so many dishes. The best part about it is that in Hawaii, it's always in season and can be used in an array of dishes. I love to grill it and dice it into risotto. A Hawaiian favorite is French onion soup with pineapple in the stock. It tastes fantastic and is the perfect fruit to add sweetness and acid simultaneously." [Ed. Note: If you're a vodka drinker, I recommend putting pineapple in your drink instead of lemon or lime].

4. SPAM musubi
"SPAM musubi is a favorite in Hawaii. Locals eat it all the time. It’s a slice of SPAM over a block of rice. Recipes vary but typically slices of SPAM are grilled first, sometimes with a light teriyaki flavor. An acrylic mold is then placed over a sheet of nori, which is edible seaweed, and rice is pressed into the mold. The grilled SPAM is placed over the rice in the mold, then the mold is removed. The nori is then wrapped over the top and around the musubi. And there you have it, Spam Sushi!" [Ed. Note: Yea, not gonna happen].

Spam Musubi

5. Loco moco
"Loco moco is a rice and hamburger concoction with brown gravy over it. There are many ways to eat it, including what I call the 'Big Kahuna.' I take a Wagyu burger and serve it over togarashi potatoes, cheddar cheese from a local farmer, bacon, fried eggs, onions and Hollandaise. It’s definitely a great brunch item. Sort of poetic license, if you will." [Ed. Note: Haven't had this, either].

Loco Moco
If you find yourself in Hawai'i, then I highly recommend going to a local dive somewhere in Chinatown and ordering these plates.  You'll be considered Hawaiian in no time.  Just make sure you don't do it while wearing a fanny pack!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Party

Office Christmas Tree
Today was our office holiday party, but in Hawai'i that carries a whole new meaning.  First of all, I know a number of lawyers at big firms where a holiday party includes a lot of alcohol and catering and networking.  It's not quite the same when you work for the Hawaii State Government.  We have 30 people who work in the office, but everything is about Ohana (family) here.  That means that when you throw a party, you invite everyone.  There were over 100 people crammed in our tiny office eating and snacking and having a good time.  It was during the day, which was done so more people could come.  It also means no outrageous stories.


Hallway Decorations
Setting up for this party reminded me of home, actually.  I have a pretty big family (8 aunts and uncles, 30+ first cousins) and holidays are our only chance to get everyone together at the same time.  The family Christmas party every year is a complete and total mad house with kids running around doing God-knows-what.  Everyone brings a different food item.  There are amazing smells wafting in the halls and kitchen.  There is always someone's girlfriend/boyfriend/random friend that no one knows.  We catch up on school, work, and life.  We also do a secret Santa where everyone gets the chance to do something nice for a brother, sister, or cousin.  It's my favorite time of year.
 
Dessert Table
Our holiday party was exactly like a family event at home.  The secretaries were amazing.  They got most of the food from caterers, but also made about a dozen homemade items.  There were TONS of homemade desserts, crab dip, crab/vegetable sushi, Bulgogi pork, Kalua pork, garlic chicken, chips/dip, pasta salad, and spinach salad.  Setting up for the party was a hectic dash to make everything come together, but somehow it did.  When everyone arrived, we were all milling around bumping into each other, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends.  On top of all that, EVERYONE also got a gift.  Nothing major, just gift cards, poinsettias, little christmas trees, tins of cookies/candy, kitchen supplies, or other random gifts.  Do people need the gifts? No.  But it wasn't about that.

Setting up the food table
I think sometimes people look at gift-giving as a hassle or burden.  Or maybe they think, "well, the person doesn't care, why give a gift."  Our secretaries went out and bought all these gifts, wrapped them ALL, and then put them around the office with an assigned number.  When people showed up, they picked a number out of a hat and had to find their gift.  Everyone had a great time searching around.  Not one secretary complained while they were putting in the time for this.  They had fun. Yes, I am traditional, that's true.  But it seems to me that Christmas is the one time a year where families get a chance to do something nice for each other. Who cares if it's small?  Gestures are a big deal and they mean a lot.


We decorated EVERYTHING
Recently some grinches people in my family decided they no longer wanted to do the secret santa.  They didn't want to spend the $20 on a gift card.  Not only did they not want to spend money on family, they didn't want to deal with the hassle.  Nevermind that they don't even need to buy a gift.  Whatever happened to making someone dinner as a gift?  Or taking someone to lunch?  Or babysitting?  This week I saw 6 secretaries wrap 100+ gifts for co-workers, colleagues, and people they didn't even know, all without complaining.  They made dozens of homemade desserts and entrees, all without complaining.  I think people who complain about having to go to the store to get a gift card might want to take the stick out of their ass.  So while Hawaii has its quirks, for sure, one thing I love about it is that everyone is family here and they treat each other accordingly.

Headnote of the Week

A drunken man is as much entitled to a safe toilet as a sober one, and much more in need of it.
Cooper v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 119 Cal. Rptr. 541 (Cal. Ct. App. 1975)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mission Houses Museum

I am a big fan of deals and coupons.  I am absolutely the sucker that marketing companies target because I will buy 2 of something if the second one is 30% off or whatever.  I am naturally drawn to big ass bright signs that say "CLEARANCE" or "50% OFF!"  I also go to the store and compare unit prices and get the item that is the better buy, even if I don't need two 60oz jars of peanut butter.  It's just smart shopping, in my opinion.  This is why I love Costco.  I also love Groupon and LivingSocial - programs that harness group buying power to lower prices of events, activities, spas, and restaurants in major cities around the world.  If you're not familiar with these websites, you get one email a day alerting you to some phenomenal deal for the day.  It's free to sign up and you don't get spam as a result (other than the daily email).

Kawaiaha'o Church
I recently bought a coupon for Buy One/Get One Free Tea at the Mission Houses Cafe and Tea Parlor.  The museum and cafe are located across from 'Iolani Palace and next to the Supreme Court building. It is right off of Kapi'olani Ave on the Kawaiaha'o Church grounds.  The Mission Houses Museum connects the story of the American Protestant missionaries to the history and culture of Hawai‘i.  The Cafe and Tea Parlor is nestled in with the houses of the first Missionaries that came to Hawaii in the 1820's. I was a little skeptical at first, but it was actually pretty nice. The Cafe serves a light breakfast, coffee drinks, and lunch with takeout and casual in-house dining.  On Saturdays, though, they have "Saturday Afternoon Tea," which is what the coupon was for.  They have a preset menu with preset prices where they serve a pot of hot tea (per person), little sandwiches, desserts, and biscotti.

Mission Houses Cafe and Tea Parlor

The pastries, pristine tea sandwiches, and carefully prepared teas are served on fine china and are great for a relaxed afternoon break if you're walking around downtown or sightseeing at the Palace/Supreme Court building. Note that the tea is ONLY done on Saturdays from 11am-4pm.  The Saturday tea menu commemorates the women who came to Hawai'i as Missionaries in the 1820’s. Each menu offering is named after one of these women and highlights her contributions to Hawai'i.  They give you a little booklet that briefly talks about each woman, and I have to say their contributions were impressive. One woman founded the first organized school in Hawai'i.  Another translated Hawaiian into English so they could teach scripture, but she went further and also taught Hawaiians how to speak English.  Lucy Thurston, another woman whose name is on the menu, was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent the island's first mastectomy in her late 50s, and yet continued to teach in the Hawaiian schools for 21 years (until she died just before her 83rd birthday).

Presentation of Treats

You can see the normal menu here or the tea menu here.  Overall, this is probably something that older couples or mothers/daughters would spend time doing, but it was admittedly a cool place to check out. The food and tea were good and it was peaceful.  As I have said before, I am not a fan of museums, so I didn't tour the museum itself, but you can always do that too if you're interested.

Museum and Cafe Grounds

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You're Welcome, America

I grew up in Delaware. This has proven to be great fodder for comedy among my friends in college and law school.  The most common phrase I hear when I meet new people is, "wow, I've never met anyone from Delaware."  I attribute that to the fact that there really aren't that many people from the country's second smallest State.  Delaware has two things it clings to, though.  First, we are the home of tax free shopping.  That's right, no sales tax on ANYTHING.  When you go to a restaurant and the price says $12.99, that's all you pay.  None of this $13.47 garbage you see everywhere else.  Second, and the theme of this post, is that Delaware is the First State. December 7 may be a date which will live in infamy, but it is also a date which should be more well known for something awesome.  Delaware was the first State to ratify the Constitution...you guessed it...on December 7, 1787.  Although the U.S. Constitution did not go into effect until March 4, 1789, Delaware still led the way. You're welcome.

State Flag of Delaware
Consequently, I can now boast that I have lived in the First State and the Last State (Hawaii joined the Union August 21, 1959).  So there's your fun fact of the day. If you're so inclined, I recommend taking a trip to the nation's First State. Here is our travel website (which I didn't even know existed) full of great tourist information.

69 Years Later

View from Shore
Today is a day that will live in infamy. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, about 25 minutes North of downtown Honolulu (does anyone else find it funny that they can fly planes across the Pacific and drop bombs with serious efficiency yet can't figure out which pedal is the gas and which is the brake in a car?). Today was an especially big deal here. There are memorials and ceremonies going on all over the island commemorating those who died in various parts of the island attack.  The most prominent though was at Pearl Harbor itself.  About 200 survivors and 2,500 members of the public attended the waterfront ceremony and dedication of the new $56 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and museum. This year’s theme for the Commemoration and Dedication was “A Promise Fulfilled,” focusing on the "creation of new experiences for visitors" at the newly opened "Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument."


USS Arizona Memorial
Most people already know what happened: At 7:55 on the sunny morning of December 7, 1941, 183 Japanese warplanes swooped out of the sky and demolished the US Pacific fleet docked at Pearl Harbor. It was this single catastrophic event, not the invasion of Poland, the Battle of Britain or the persecution of the Jews, that finally dragged the U.S. into World War II.  What you'll learn at the Memorial, though, is the intricate details of the attack.  For example, you'll learn that the way the battleships were organized and docked made them particularly susceptible to attack.  ALL the battleships were lined up right next to each other, in pairs (known as Battleship Row).  The USS Arizona (the famous exhibit at Pearl Harbor) was sunk in 9 minutes. It was over 600ft long and displaced 34,000 tons of water.  Do you know how hard it is to sink a ship that big in 9 minutes?  It sank that fast because one of the 2000-lb bombs broke through the deck and ignited a gun powder reserve tank. The ship's 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives are still buried beneath the water. The memorial itself is a 184-foot-long structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship and consists of three main sections: (1) the entry and assembly rooms; (2) a central area designed for general observation; and (3) the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall (as well as survivors who asked to be buried with their fallen shipmates).




If you've never been to Pearl Harbor, it is an absolute must-see.  Its humble simplicity and reverence are truly amazing. If you ask people here about going, they're likely to make it sound like a nightmare trip.  They'll say, "ah, it's too late, you'll never make it" or "oh man, that's too far to go unless you leave at 6am."  Tell them to shut up.  Better yet, don't ask anyone.  I have been there several times - on weekdays and weekends - in the middle of the day, and have never had a problem getting a ticket for the next available boat.  When you walk in, go to the information desk and ask for a ticket to the USS Arizona Memorial.  The ticket grants you access to the water taxi (necessary to get to the Memorial) that leaves every 30-45 minutes.  The ticket is free, but there is an optional $6 audio tour that I highly recommend.  There are also two other ships, the USS Missouri Battleship ($20) and USS Bownfin Submarine ($10), which show visitors what the inside of a battleship and submarine are like, including living quarters for sailors.  Before walking over to the water taxi, make sure you stop and listen to the 23-minute video (free) that is on a constant loop. The video describes the morning of the attack with tremendous detail, including the escalation of conflict between the U.S. and Japan that led to the attack. There is also a memorial to all the submarines and crew that died in WWII, which is pretty interesting.  It is all really awe-inspiring and I recommend making the trip.

Names of Those Who Died on the USS Arizona
Here is a video of FDR's speech to Congress asking for a Declaration of War on Dec. 8, 1941.  This is his famous "date which will live in infamy" speech:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hawai'i's 7th Governor

It's easy to forget sometimes just how young Hawaii is as a State (1959).  Today, I remembered when I found out that Neil Abercrombie was sworn in as Hawaii's 7th Governor.  To put that in perspective, Delaware, the First State, is on its 73rd governor.  The inauguration took place at 'Iolani Palace and there were about 5,000 people there.  I didn't walk across the street to watch because I couldn't imagine anything worse than trying to brave the inevitable crowd of confused people walking into each other.  I'm told he spoke for about 9 minutes and focused his speech on meaningless rhetoric improving the economy and promising to bring a "new day" to Hawaii.  You can read his inaugural message if you want, but one of the highlights is that he said, "our first job is to accelerate the economic recovery, restoration of good jobs, create good jobs, capitalize on new opportunities, work smarter, work in partnerships to optimize our jobs."  Are you scratching your head, too?  Yes, that grammatical and rhetorical train wreck is the work of a man who now runs an entire State.  I mean, nevermind the fact that the guy looks like a creepy pedophile.
  
Hawaii's New Governor
The governor didn't talk at all about how he would sustain government services while also fulfilling campaign promises to end government worker furloughs while dealing with rising Medicaid and state laborer health care costs.  I've written about furloughs before and how they suck for my wallet but give me two Fridays off per month.  I even have a label section dedicated to Furlough Fridays on the right side of the blog.  The furloughs that the governor talked about ending, though, don't apply to me.  The judiciary is controlled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  As a result, the governor doesn't decide whether we keep our furloughs or not.

Abercrombie is your stereotypical career politician. He first ran for political office in 1970, challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Hiram Fong.  He also graduated from the University of Hawaii with a master's degree in sociology in 1964 and a doctorate in American studies in 1974 (he lost the Senate election in 1970).  His career also includes stints in the state House from 1975-1979, state Senate from 1979-1986 and Honolulu City Council from 1988 to 1990.  After serving a term on the Honolulu City Council, he ran for the U.S. House of Reps from Hawaii's 1st Congressional District.  He held that seat for 20 years before resigning in February to run for governor.