Friday, October 29, 2010

Trial Practice at University of Hawaii

Prior to this morning, I thought the University of Hawaii law school did not offer its students a Trial Advocacy class.  I was wrong.  They do.  They offer a class in both the Fall and Spring semesters.  What does that mean for my goal of teaching trial practice at UH?  Well, it certainly doesn't make it any easier.  However, I took the first step in getting involved today.  There is a different professor each semester so I contacted both of them.  The current semester is almost over so they don't need any more help right now.  I figured that would be the case and so didn't have high expectations, anyway.  However, my conversation with the second professor went decidedly better.

First off, he graduated from my alma mater - George Washington Univ.  He also got his Master's Degree there before going to law school at Berkeley.  He was much more willing to talk to me when he found out I was a fellow Colonial.  So we discussed the format of the Trial Practice class, the textbook and case file they use, and where he thought I could be of some assistance.  It sounds like I wouldn't be useful all that often, but on certain weeks I will come in, play a witness, and provide feedback to the students.

Essentially, it sounds like they have a much smaller class size than what I had in mind and they are not nearly as thorough as I would have expected, but it still sounds like a class I would enjoy participating in.  The spring semester is co-taught between a civil litigator and retired judge.  The civil litigator is the one who pretty much runs the program and is also the GW alum I talked to.  He said they use one case, which he tried himself years ago, and they stick with that case all semester.  They take the case from start to finish, including voir dire of a jury at the beginning.  Then they do weekly assignments for learning how to do directs, crosses, opens, closes, etc. They also have certain people come in who have been witnesses in trial and give a lecture on witness preparation.  Overall it sounds like a great experience if I can get involved.  

In the interest of fairness, I should say that I rail on GW as a school all the time.  I constantly say that they have a horrible alumni network and the school was (and probably still is) worthless when it comes to helping its students or alums with...well...anything.  They were terribly mismanaged when I was a student and the President (who has since retired) was a money-hungry ass who didn't give a damn about the students.  If this guy actually lets me take part in his class, even if it's not because I am a GW grad, I am willing to be at least a little nicer about other grads from now on.  We'll see.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Growing a Pineapple From It's Top

Planted October 1, 2010
Planted October 1, 2010
This weekend I decided to grow a second pineapple.  I discovered a couple problems with the first one.  First of all, I forgot to actually blog about the fact that I planted it.  Sure, I talked about soaking it, but anyone actually paying attention (yea yeah, a stretch, I know...relax), would think the damn thing has been soaking for the last month.  Well, it was planted on October 1st.  That brings me to the second problem.  When I planted the first pineapple, I planted it in old dirt that has been sitting on my lanai (back porch) for the last month.  There were several garden pots already on the lanai when I moved in.  These pots had dirt in them already, and at the time, I didn't have a chance to go get potting soil, so like MacGyver, I just used what was available.  Now, I may not know a whole lot about gardening or planting pineapples, and maybe old dirt that has been caked in clay pots for God-knows-how-long will be fine, but I assume fresh potting soil is better.  The third problem is that I never bothered to take a "before" shot and it's going to be pretty difficult to measure any change without some context.  Well, here are two pictures of the first pineapple (taken 3 weeks later...oops).

This weekend, however, I happened to pass Home Depot and stopped to get potting soil so I could plant a second pineapple.  I assume using potting soil will better promote pineapple growth than old dirt (at least that's what the Miracle Grow bag says and I doubt the fine people at Miracle Grow would deceive me!).  Anyway, since I had plenty of pots, I figured I could compare the second pineapple with the first one.  After all, if I am going to blog about my life in Hawaii as it parallels the growth of a pineapple (I also just considered how ridiculous that sounds when you say it out loud), I wanted to document the pineapples' growth a little more "scientifically."  All this really means is I plan to take pictures every 2-4 weeks and measure the leaves to report any changes (or lack thereof).

Planted October 25, 2010
At present, there are two pineapples growing on my lanai.  The second one (pictured to the left) was planted on October 25, 2010.  Interestingly, I think the first pineapple that was planted has actually grown a little in the last few weeks.  Since I forgot to actually blog about the fact that I planted that one, I guess we'll just have to go with "it looks bigger" (insert 'that's what she said joke here').  The second pineapple is growing in a medium-sized pot that will probably be sufficient throughout the growing process.

Planted October 25, 2010
Now, to give you a better sense of what growing a pineapple entails, I included a YouTube video of a guy going through the process (below).  I watched a few videos and despite this guy's "weird" personality, this was the best one.  Unlike in the video, however, I chose to soak my pineapple for a couple days prior to planting.  Soaking the pineapple stem allows the roots to sprout a little more fully.  I soaked the first pineapple for about a week.  The second one I soaked for only 3 days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oral Arguments

With all the posts about hiking, drinking, beaches, and furloughs, it is quite easy to forget that I actually have a job where I am expected to read legal briefs and help a judge render his decisions.  In reality, my work schedule is more intense than one might think.  I am at work usually by 7:15am and I leave work around 5:30pm.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, it's not exactly an "intense" work day.

Occasionally, however, my job requires some actual attention.  Take this week, for example.  I got a case a little over a week ago (maybe 2 weeks's so easy to lose track of time when procrastinating so much).  Anyway, the case involves a fairly close question about adhesion contracts, the infancy doctrine, and whether a person has to forego a judicial forum and submit the case to arbitration.  For anyone who may potentially read this who didn't go to law school, a contract of adhesion is drafted or otherwise proffered by the stronger of two contracting parties on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. In other words, the terms of the contract are imposed upon the weaker party who has no choice but to conform.  Contracts of adhesion are unenforceable if two conditions are present: (1) the contract is the result of coercive bargaining between parties of unequal bargaining strength; and (2) the contract unfairly limits the obligations and liabilities of, or otherwise unfairly advantages, the stronger party.

Under the infancy doctrine, a minor may, upon reaching the age of majority, either ratify or avoid contractual obligations entered into during his or her minority.  The infancy doctrine is based on the idea that the law should protect children from the detrimental consequences of their youthful and improvident acts.  The rule that a minor's contracts are voidable is not absolute.  An exception to the rule is that a minor may not avoid a contract for goods or services necessary for his well-being or growth.  Contracts for “necessities” (i.e.  such as food, medicine, clothes, shelter or personal services usually considered reasonably essential for the preservation and enjoyment of life) cannot be voided later.

Anyway, this particular case was a close call.  I hate when big companies present form contracts that someone has no choice but to sign in a situation they can't reasonably expected to walk away from.  For example, employment contracts are often like that.  Your employer presents a contract to you and has you sign it.  The contract may include a provision requiring you to go to arbitration if there is ever a dispute.  If you don't sign it, you can't work there.  But then the employer also says they can change the contract whenever they want. That's an adhesion contract (it should be noted at this point that you should not read this article and think you can argue with your employer about your contract).  Anyway, this case at work was not that type of situation, but it raised some of the same issues.  The other interesting aspect of the case is that Hawaii courts had never really addressed this issue.  Other States, on the other hand, have several cases dealing with it.

As a result of the relatively novel aspect of the case, coupled with the close nature of the question, I recommended having oral argument.  In order to do that, though, my judge asked me to write a memo that would be circulated to the other judges on the court detailing the issues and discussing why I thought oral arguments would be beneficial.  So I was at work particularly late last night getting that ready for today.  In the end, the judges agreed to accept the case for oral arguments, which will be held sometime in January.  This means I also needed to finish my bench memo so the other judges would be able to read my analysis of how the case should be decided.

It was definitely cool to be able to recommend oral argument and have a case I have been working get accepted by the court.  Part of my job now will be helping prepare my judge for oral arguments.  This means briefing him on the case, giving him a series of questions to ask the attorneys when they argue their sides, and making sure he understands all the issues.  He'll also have my bench memo, which presents my analysis of the case and my recommendation for how the case should be decided, but oral arguments requires a little more work.

Inside the Supreme Court Building
(also called Ali'iolani Hale)
Some people wonder about the difference between the Supreme Court and Intermediate Court.  In terms of work load and case types, there is not a whole lot of difference.  The Supreme Court (pictured above), however, has discretion over the cases they hear and decide (both the Supreme Court and ICA have oral arguments in the building above).  The Intermediate Court of Appeals does not have a choice.  When a person loses at the lower court level, they have the right to immediately appeal the decision and have the Intermediate Court review the lower court's decision.  The Intermediate Court of Appeals gets hundreds of cases every year and must decide every one.  The vast majority are handled with a summary disposition order that does not even result in a published opinion or oral argument.  Occasionally, though, the judges find cases that require more thorough treatment and discussion.  This will result in about 15-20% of the cases getting a published opinion.  Of those, very few will be decided after oral argument.  More than likely, we just decide the cases based on the legal briefs submitted by the attorneys for each party. On rare occasions, though (about 1 or 2 times a month), we have oral arguments on cases that are either 1) important to the public or 2) present an interesting/novel issue within the law.  My case has elements of both.

I am actually really interested to hear what the attorneys have to say.  There is a really narrow issue that could change my mind about my recommendation and I'll be curious to see how the attorneys address it.

Hawaiian Islands And A Little Perspective

It occurred to me that some people, while reading my (sometimes) misanthropic posts may not have an accurate understanding of the Hawaiian islands or their basic layout.  Below is a map (click to enlarge):

The Hawaiian Islands (HawaiianMokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago (chain or cluster of islands) of eight major islands, several atolls (island of coral that circles a lagoon partially or completely), numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the Pacific Ocean.  The entire chain of islands extends some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll (the northwesternmost island in Hawaii is Green Island, which is joined to the Kure Atoll).

Oahu, where the Intermediate Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are located, is an island in the Northwestern part of the chain.  Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and is located on the island of Oahu.  Many people often confuse "Hawaii the State" with "Hawaii the Island" thinking they are the same thing.  This is understandably confusing.  Hawaii the Island is also called "The Big Island."  Hawaii the State is in reference to all 8 major islands (and surrounding atolls, etc).  The major metropolitan area of Hawaii the State is Honolulu.  Oahu has by far the most people and most commercial activity of any of the islands. 

Oahu, known as "The Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and most populous of the islands in the State of Hawaiʻi. It has a total land area of 596.7 square miles.  The craziest thing is that the island is home to about 902,168 people, which is roughly 75% of the population of the entire state.  Then about 75% of those on Oahu live on the "city" side of the island.  In case you don't feel like doing the math, that means that there are about 1,521 people/sq mi on Oahu.

To put these numbers in perspective, consider a few other places.  The Big Island, the largest Hawaiian island, has just under 44 people per square mile (4,028 sq. mil with a population of 175,784).  The State of Delaware (the second smallest State) has 885,000 people contained within a 2,490 sq mi area (355 people/sq mi).  The State of California is the most populous State in the U.S. and third largest by land area.  California is 163,696 sq mi with a population of 36,961,664 (225.8 people per/sq mi).  All the numbers presented are as of 2009 and are compiled from the official websites of the particular State. 

So there you have the very basic idea. 

Cabanas and The Phillies

Sadly, the Philadelphia Phillies did not make it to the World Series.  It was a sad weekend to be a Philadelphia fan as the Eagles lost to the Tennessee Titans as well.  On the plus side, I was able to watch the Phillies play on Saturday from the comfort of my very own cabana at Cabana's Pool Bar in the Ohana West Hotel.

Cabana's Pool Bar is a cool place to go if you're looking to watch sports but don't want to waste your day inside.  Unfortunately, you can't go to the beach and watch your favorite football (or, in this case, baseball) team live.  You either have to record it and watch later or you have to waste a beautiful day in Hawaii inside at one of the many great sports bars here.  This can be particularly challenging if you have both men and women in the group.  The women inevitably want to lay out in the sun and the men want to watch sports.  Now allow me a brief digression to explain that I am not a sexist.  I recognize that some women would enjoy watching a sporting event.  Maybe they are from a city where the home team is particularly good.  Maybe they have a boyfriend who is interested in sports and they are looking for a way to find something to talk with him about that doesn't make him want to blow his brains out.  Maybe the woman genuinely likes sports.  On the other hand, maybe you're with a man who enjoys laying out in the sun, with a pink fruity drink and loopy straw with an umbrella.  Maybe.  Well, in the event that you're with a stereotypical man and woman, with traditional gender roles, then Cabana's is your solution.  It has something for everyone.

Poolside at Cabanas
Cabana's is located on Kuhio Street in Waikiki (corner of Kuhio and Walina Streets).  It is on the third floor of the Ohana West Hotel and is open to the public.  They have 5 big screen TVs - 2 at the bar and 3 in the seating area next to the bar - and two separate covered cabanas with couches and chairs and private TVs.  It is free to get a cabana, but you have to get their early enough to reserve one.  It's first come first serve.  The advantage of this place is the outdoor pool with easily 75 chairs.  I have been there a few times and it is never too crowded to find a spot in the sun.

The staff is really friendly and the service is pretty decent.  Every day they have happy hour from 11am to 5pm where they have $3.50 bloody marys, $3.00 mai tais, and $3.00 12-oz domestic drafts.  Stick with beer.  The mixed drinks are weak and the bloody marys are watered down.  They have delicious waffle fries, but the food is otherwise not appetizing. It's not even just bar food.  Whatever social reject they got from the local parole office to work in their kitchen needs to learn how to make something beyond dropping the food in the fryer.

Anyway, if you stick around at night, the place turns into a "night club" of sorts with live entertainment.  It's a solid place to relax, spend the afternoon, and please everyone without breaking the bank.

Oahu Revealed

This travel book of Oahu definitely lives up to its claim of being "The Ultimate Guide To Honolulu, Waikiki & Beyond."  Someone recommended it to me last week so I went to Borders and bought a copy ($16.95, but I'm sure you could find it online for cheaper).  Unlike most travel publishers who send one or two writers to a given location for a few weeks to become "experts," Oahu Revealed is written by people who actually live on the island for a minimum of 2 years.  They hike the trails, ride the boats, eat in the restaurants, explore the reefs, and do the things they write about.  I am also inclined to agree with their claim that they do not get any kickbacks for reviews because they have some scathing reviews of certain places.  I have tried to read travel books before, all with the same result.  They try to do too much for too big an area and only provide a one sentence description of whatever it is the book is talking about.  In so doing, travel books are often boring, cover too much information, and never give enough detail to actually tell you how to get to where they're referring the reader.  So I get bored, put the book down, and call it a day.

Not Oahu Revealed.  I actually started reading it on my commute every day.  It's interesting, has pictures, has maps, and GIVES DIRECTIONS.  Yes, when the book says, "oh, you should go to Lanikai" it tells you what is there, what to expect, where to park, and how to actually get there.  It will give street names and an address (so you can GPS it if you want).  I am actually enjoying reading it and have gotten some great ideas for places to go.  If you're planning a trip to Oahu, I highly recommend the book.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maybe There Really Is No Difference Between State And Federal Clerkships

I pointed out previously that in my clerkship we have chores (i.e. cleaning the kitchen, taking out the trash, and making sure the recycling is emptied regularly).  Well, it turns out that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals (federal court covering New York, Connecticut, and Vermont) has its own "issues."

The clerk of the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit gave her staff a "writing test" to find out who scribbled rude graffiti in the men's room.  Apparently, last week someone wrote a note on the fifth-floor bathroom wall that read, "Don't [bleep] on the seat," along with a penis. Now, one might think this sort of thing crude.  I find it to be a public service.  For reasons I cannot fathom, some men cannot aim to save their lives.  Now, I suppose this is a personal problem that really doesn't affect anyone but the wild shooter.  However, I am guessing this "graffiti" as the clerk called it, was written because someone didn't wipe up.  I mean, we've all seen the signs at someone's grandmother's house that says, "please be neat and wipe the seat."  I don't see much difference between that and a talking penis telling someone not to piss on the seat.  Well, this clerk and I obviously see things differently. After hearing about (presumably) the "graffiti," she summoned every male employee in the building to an afternoon meeting. According to the newspaper article I saw, she told staffers to write out the sentence, "Do not play on Delancey" with an exclamation mark and to sign the paper -- apparently to match their handwriting with the graffiti. The clerk says it was necessary. "By having the meeting and by closing the lavatory for a period of time so it could be cleaned, [I hoped] we could restore the kind of civil consideration that people living in a community extend to each other," she said. 

So while I may have to wipe down kitchen counters, I don't have to give writing samples to prove I don't draw penises on a bathroom wall.  If you'd like to read the original article, it can be found here: To Catch a Public Servant

Monday, October 18, 2010

Malasadas and a Vapor Bar

This weekend was the Grand Opening of Volcano Vapor Cafe in Honolulu.  A friend of mine is the manager so my roommate and I went down there to show some support.  The place is basically a coffee shop for smokers...sort of.  However, since you can't smoke inside, they offer those silly electronic cigarettes the gypsies try to sell at the stands in the mall.  Anyway, the cafe has a full coffee bar, big leather couches, free wireless internet, a counter that goes around the entire perimeter windows looking outside, and a big flat screen TV.  On Sunday they had the football games playing on the TV and were serving free food, free coffee, and free beer to get people to come in.  Not surprisingly, there was a decent showing.  Also not surprising, no one was "smoking."  It was still a nice environment.  It was fairly quiet, but everyone was in there talking and watching the Vikings/Cowboys game while drinking coffee or beer. The snacks were typical Hawaiian dishes.  For example, they had Manapua and Dumplings.  They also had Malasadas, though, which a Hawaiian dessert.

Malasada is essentially a doughnut dipped in sugar.  According to Wikipedia, in 1878, Portuguese laborers from the Madeira (island off the coast of Portugal) came to Hawaii to work in the plantations. These immigrants brought their traditional foods with them, including a fried dough pastry called the "malasada."  Today there are numerous bakeries in the Hawaiian islands specializing in malasadas. It was pretty good.  It's no more special than any other doughnut, though, and one could actually argue that it has less taste.  It tasted a little bland, I think.  I recommend trying them and I would definitely eat another one, I just wouldn't tell someone that they absolutely can't come to Hawaii without having one.  Malasadas typically don't have any holes or fillings.  It is literally a ball of dough dipped in granulated sugar.  Apparently, though, some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings.  Traditionally the reason for making malasadas has been to use up all the lard and sugar in the house before Lent. Malasadas are eaten especially on Mardi Gras - the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

Back to the Vapor Bar.  On one hand, I have to give these guys credit.  They entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the anti-smoking campaigns going on right now and the banning of inside smoking.  An electronic cigarette, (also called an e-cigarette or personal vaporizer), is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine or non-nicotine vaporized solution.  It is an alternative to smoked tobacco products. In addition to purported nicotine delivery, this vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no smoke or combustion is actually involved in its operation. The idea is that smokers will switch to this new form of smoking that is permitted indoors.  "Vaping" as they call it, is an alternative to smoking with less chemicals and carcinogens and no tar.  It's an electronic cigarette.  You can even get ones with nicotine, so in theory, these could help a person quit smoking by not only providing the nicotine fix, but also addressing the psychological addiction of having something in your hand.  So from that perspective, having a coffee shop dedicated to this type of activity might be cool enough.  And the cafe is not just for smokers.  Like I wrote above, it's a nice environment and the people who work there are very nice and friendly and welcoming.  The coffee is pure Hawaiian coffee as well and it tastes great.  Also, they have free wireless internet.  So it's a nice alternative to Starbucks for those hippies who don't want to support "corporate America" or whatever else it is hippies have a problem with.

Ignore the fact that you're inhaling vaporized nicotine, which is obviously weird and has probably a plethora of unknown health risks.  What the hell is vaporized nicotine, anyway?  More importantly for me is that I'm still not convinced they're going to get a lot of business.  This bar is located on Kapahulu Street across from the Ala Wai Golf Course.  For those not familiar with the area, it's not around anything.  It is a solid 20 minute walk from Waikiki.  You really have to drive.  They do have parking underneath the building, but why the hell would anyone drive all the way over to this place to drink coffee and pretend to smoke a cigarette?  It doesn't make any sense.  I suppose if you're the kind of person who already drives to Starbucks, then you're okay driving to a coffee shop.  But changing your coffee-drinking habits just to smoke vaporized nicotine? I'll pass, thank you.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Friday Funday

Although my first paycheck was a stark reminder of why the furlough system is the worst idea ever, it is hard to complain when you're sitting in the ocean on a surf board at 9am on a Friday morning rather than behind a depressing cubicle wall.  After surfing for a few hours, it was time to watch the Phillies dominate the Reds.  My co-worker (for the sake of privacy, let's call him Joe) has an absolutely phenomenal apartment building right near Chinatown where we decided to watch the playoff game.  His apartment lets residents and their guests reserve cabanas by the pool.  The cabanas come complete with a grill, cooler with ice, table, and TV hookup.  So we called a bunch of people and set it up.  We had the typical party essentials - chips, salsa, fruit, and beer - and even grilled a few hot links, all while sitting out by the pool and watching the game.  The apartment complex brought Joe's 50'' plasma TV down for us and set it up for the perfect Phillies'-winning playoff party (forgive the alliteration).

Following the game, it was only about 4:00 in the afternoon so the night was young.  A group of people decided to go out, which usually means Waikiki or Chinatown.  This particular evening we decided to head over to Nashville's.  For anyone unfamiliar with this magnificent gem in the heart of Waikiki, I wholeheartedly recommend it for a fun night out.  The alcohol prices are nothing special, but the atmosphere is a lot of fun.  It is a country/classic rock music bar that is open until 4am. It is the only country music/classic rock bar on Oahu, which means that the crowd is everything you would expect it to be.  Everyone sings incredibly loudly and dances because everyone knows all the words to all the songs.  It's that kind of place.

Don't come to Nashville's looking for good food, though.  They don't serve food, unless you're on the liquor diet.  They have happy hour everyday from 4-8pm ($3 Mai Tais and $3 Domestic Bottles), but the real appeal of this place is their daily or weekly activities (and late night music selection).  They have free blackjack every night at 10pm, free line dancing lessons every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7-9pm, Pool tournaments Sunday through Thursday at 10pm, and Guys and Girls Boxers Contests every Wednesday.  For people not so interested in stripping down to their boxers, though, they have darts and Wii games as well.  Also, if you visit their website (, there are a few drink coupons you can print out and bring with you.  Another advantage of this late-night spot over other places in Waikiki is their lack of a cover charge.  No bar should ever have a cover charge unless there is a live band, and even then, no bar should ever charge more than $5.  No bar is ever worth a cover charge.  I will happily go next door to inebriate myself, thank you very much.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pork Hash and Pepeiao

Pork hash and Pepeiao are both Hawaiian foods that were brought in to work to celebrate the bar passers (Hawaii bar passers found out today) at the ICA.  The judicial assistants also brought us all “Congratulations” balloons that were put on our desk in the morning.  Very nice.

The best part of the celebration, though, was all the food that one of the judicial assistants brought in. In addition to Manapua, she also brought in Pork Hash and Pepeiao.  This time it was from a different place, though, I’m not exactly sure where. 

First of all, I found out that both dishes fall within the category of “Dim Sum.”  Now, the easiest way to describe dim sum is that it’s the asian version of tapas.  However, unlike tapas, dim sum is hearty and filling and not ridiculously and unreasonably overpriced.  A dim sum is a Chinese-inspired meat dumpling-style snack food.  The dish normally consists of a couple large balls of pork or other meat, cabbage and flavorings, encased in a wrapper similar to that of a more traditional dumpling. They are usually deep-fried or steamed, but can be barbecued.  Dim sums differ from typical Chinese dumplings in that they are often much larger, have a thicker skin and are shaped more robustly.  Traditional dim sum includes various types of steamed buns such as cha siu bau, dumplings and rice noodle rolls (cheong fun), which contain a range of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns and vegetarian options.

Pork hash is one type of dim sum (think potsticker).  They are bite size balls of delicious that I highly recommend.  Also, like manapua, you could get them at 7-Eleven if you were so inclined.  Although I have now mentioned two things you could get at 7-Eleven, there are tons of bakeries in Chinatown that are much better.
Growing wild on logs of the Koa and Kukui trees in Hawaii, the mushroom Auricularia cornea is known by the locals as Pepeiao which in Hawaiian means “ear.”  This popular mushroom is included as part of the regional culinary culture primarily because of the population of Asians living in Hawaii.  When I ate it, I had no idea it was a mushroom.  It was wrapped in a weird, translucent type of noodle.  It was also mixed with pork, which probably masked a lot of the flavor.  Either way, it was really good and I would also highly recommend it.

Manoa Falls and Acai Bowls

The adventures continued on Sunday when I went to Manoa Falls.  Manoa Falls is a spectacular site near the University of Hawaii that falls down a near vertical cliff for approximately 150-feet into a small pool.  The hike to the falls is classified as "easy" and travels through a bamboo forest, rainforest, and base of the Ko'oaus Mountains. The trail is approximately a 1 ½ mile hike, but it’s more of a “walk” than anything else.  The toughest thing about getting there is that it is fairly muddy and slippery.  But for the most part it’s flat and easy to get to.

When you walk up on the falls, it just opens up and in front of you stands a 150-ft waterfall with a pool at the bottom (see: left).  They have the pool roped off to keep people from swimming, but everyone seems to ignore the sign.  It’s hard not to want to swim just for the sake of being able to say you did.  However, the pool is filled with boulders from some rock slide that happened a few years ago and the bottom of the pool cannot be seen making it unsafe for swimming or diving.

I found out about it from a friend I met a couple weeks ago who lives around the corner.  So we decided to go after the Sunday football games were over.  I recommend going a little earlier though so you don’t have to fight the encroaching dark like we did. It can be tough to navigate your way around in the dark and the dense trees of the rainforest don’t let much light in as it is.

Following the hike I was introduced to another Hawaii staple: Acai Bowls.  The way people described them to me sounded a lot like frozen yogurt or Jamba Juice smoothies.  For the most part that is an accurate way to think about them.  However, they are more of a meal than anything else.  They’re huge.  Acai juice is everywhere nowadays, anyway.  Celebrities are drinking and eating the berries, doctors recommend it and of course tons of companies are in business to capitalize off the acai berry juice.  Talking to people in Hawaii you’d think they found the cure to cancer or something.  Everyone here will tell you how healthy acai bowls are, which is particularly humorous when you went and drank your face off with them the night before.  It’s like those people who shoot up heroin but don’t eat red meat because of the dangerous side effects. 

Anyway, acai is said to have between 10 and 30 times more antioxidants than grapes, pomegranates, and even blueberries. Because of the extensive vitamins, amino acids, minerals, Omega acids, and other properties, the acai berry is also supposed to be one of the most nutritionally dense berries on the planet.  (According to whom, you may be wondering? Well, I have no idea, but here’s a blog that talks about the health benefits: Whatever.  After the hike I was hungry and everyone keeps talking about them, so we went and got a bowl.  There are a lot of places you can find them, but we went to Lanikai Juice, which is over by the Kahala Mall about 15 minutes from Manoa Falls.  

The bowl is basically jamba juice with toppings.  It is not a smoothie, though.  You definitely need a spoon to eat it.  They put toppings on like strawberry, banana (for people who don’t despise banana like the shit-tasting fruit it is), coconut, and honey.  Overall, I’d say the bowl was very good.  I would definitely have another one, but it’s not the holy grail of foods, though.  I didn’t eat a bowl and suddenly think I was some High Priest of Health, or anything.  They are also expensive.  For one bowl, it’s like $9 (now, that’s Hawaii pricing, so in civilization it’d probably be like $4-5).  Nonetheless, if you’re in Hawaii for a visit, it might be worth giving an acai bowl a try before going out for ice cream or frozen yogurt after dinner.

Beaches and Hula Pie

Despite a Friday night that involved excessive bar-passing celebrations, weekends in Hawaii are no time to sleep in and recover.  Saturday included more beach-going in Waikiki (but no surfing) and Hula Pie.  Duke's Restaurant and Barefoot Bar (here: is in Waikiki and has a signature "hula pie" that is made with macadamia nut ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust.  It is topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and more macadamia nuts.  Even if you don’t particularly care for macadamia nuts, they are not overpowering.  If you find yourself in Waikiki don’t miss out on this amazing dessert.  It is easily big enough for two people (and if you tell them it’s your birthday, it’s free).

There are not many better ways to celebrate anything than spending a day recovering on a beach with a stomach filled with delicious ice cream.  The food at Duke's other than Hula Pie is equally amazing.  I highly recommend the chicken quesadillas, the hot wings, and the Mango BBQ Bacon Burger.  The burger comes with local grass fed beef, white cheddar, ranch dressing and grilled onions.  The quesadillas have a special sauce drizzled on top with a pretty good guacamole on the side.
Following Duke’s and the beach, a group of people introduced me to the Yard House Restaurant, which is also in Waikiki.  The Yard House is a casual eatery known mostly for its selection of draft beer.  The place features a center island bar and a fleet of tap handles ranging from classic lagers to more obscure ales. The glass-enclosed keg room has as much as 5,000 gallons of beer at any one time.  Also, there are three to five miles of individual beer lines stretching overhead from the keg room to the island bar maintaining a constant temperature of 34-36 degrees.  However, it is also a pretty tourist-y place, and if your time in Hawaii is limited, I wouldn’t bother.  It gets really crowded and the food is, at best, average.  The nachos in particular are terrible.  The cheese was burned on both plates we ordered, the chips were soggy and overly salty, and the toppings were glopped on the middle without anything touching the outer-lying chips.  They did have a really good goat cheese/chicken pizza, but overall, it’s a mediocre place compared to other great options.  The only reason a person visiting Hawaii may choose to go to Yardhouse, though, is their amazing beer selection.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Passed the Bar!!

Waiting for the bar exam results is perhaps the most excruciatingly difficult waiting period of one's life.  Illinois does not release the results all at once.  They go through and release the results in batches.  This means that when you're pretending to do work, but really on gchat, you see status message after status message of friends who say, "I passed the bar!"  This is great if you are one of the people who know your results.  I was in pretty damn close to the LAST batch.  They send out an email telling you to log into the webiste.  So with each status message that went up, I furiously clicked refresh on my browser feeling like I was going to puke all over the place. 

Fortunately, there were no errors and my name was not mysteriously left off the list.  I got that fateful email and paused just a few minutes before logging in.  Take a deep breath and sure enough, I passed.  All my friends passed as well.  Today is sunny and 85 degrees in the great State of Hawaii and tonight is First Friday (see below).  This is a recipe for awesomeness.  Congrats to all those who passed the bar! 

First Friday is pretty much what it sounds like.  Officially, the website says, "Chinatown is the place to be if you want to join the hip crowds at the many unique galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants that feature exciting art exhibits and free entertainment." They open up all the galleries and bars and everyone drinks and walks and parties in the streets until 4am.  Combined with passing the bar, one can only assume this night is going to be epic.  From Cafes, Delis, Bakeries to restaurants serving Italian, Eurasian, Spanish, and Chinese cuisines to even afternoon tea, Downtown/Chinatown has a lot to experience. This is also the place where popular Bars, Jazz Clubs and Lounges abound. Some innovative entrepreneurs and artists are also able to combine food and art successfully into cafes and restaurants that not only serve great food but also feature top notch artwork and interior design.