Countdown

Monday, July 25, 2011

Skydiving

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

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

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

then we landed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Headnote of the Week

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Aaaand we're back!

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Expensive Afternoon

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waimea Valley

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


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


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


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

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Yardhouse and Beer Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet Home Cafe

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


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

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

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

Shave Ice

Electric Beach

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

3660 On The Rise

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


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

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


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

Headnote of the Week

Damn hippies:

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Koko Head Crater...and a word to the wise


When friends come to visit, it gives me the excuse to go out and explore places that I haven't been to yet.  I have a couple friends visiting this week and on Saturday morning we decided to hike up Koko Head Crater.  Only two words really encapsulate the Koko Head hike on the East side of O'ahu...holy crap!  Koko Crater is a cinder cone remaining from the last active volcano that occurred on O'ahu approximately 10,000 years ago. This crater is the tallest tuff ring in Hawaii, measuring 1,207 feet in height. The slopes of the crater drop steeply into the Molokai Channel, an area which lacks protection from any offshore reefs, causing very turbulent seas in this area.

View from the Bottom
If you're looking for a nice, easygoing hike then stay away from Koko Head.  The good news is that the entire trail is a staircase.  Originally Koko Head was used as a radar stand for the military during WWII.  In order to get supplies up to the mountain, they used a tram that ran on railroad tracks.  The tracks are still there and that's what you use to get up.  The bad news is that it is a straight vertical climb.  It looks really steep from the bottom, but I had no idea how difficult the hike would be until I got about 1/4 the way up.  It's REALLY steep!  I am in fairly good shape and yet my calves and my ass have been killing me for 2 days.

View from Halfway Up
In my defense, however, I did ride my bike for an hour a half (25 miles) that morning so I had already had a pretty good workout.  So the "word to the wise" is that you should not workout prior to hiking Koko Head.  The trail itself was not too crowded, but there were a good 50 people on the trail at any one time.  No one got in each other's way, though, and everyone was taking periodic breaks along the way.  We must have stopped 5 or 6 times ourselves just to catch our breath.

View from the top
Prior to going on the hike, I had heard from some people that the view from the top of Koko Head is nice, but not really worth the pain of climbing up.  I disagree.  Yes, Koko Head is a bitch to climb.  However, the view from the top is pretty amazing.  I could sit up there all day and just stare out onto Hawaii Kai and the ocean.  Being at the top, especially after working so hard to get there, makes the view all the more amazing.  So overall if you're looking for a challenging workout and you're willing to put up with the subsequent pain, then Koko Head is a really gorgeous hike that offers amazing views and good story.

A long way to get down...

Friday, May 27, 2011

So What's Next?

After completing my second sprint triathlon, I decided that I really like them.  Sprint triathlons are a great because they are short and relatively easy to do.  I don't mean to say they're "easy" but if you are moderately athletic you should be able to finish one without much problem.  Obviously being competitive is a different story, but hopefully you get my point.  They're enjoyable.

Races are also fun.  You get a couple hundred people together to test their bodies and push themselves as hard as they can.  Everyone is friendly, supportive, and encouraging.  It doesn't matter how fast or slow you race, everyone just gives each other credit for being out there.  Ironically the only "criticism" I've heard (i.e. you don't swim fast enough or sprint triathlons aren't "real" triathlons) have come from non-competitors.  I find that both hypocritical and funny.  I also find triathlon races to give a real high upon finishing.  Not to mention you get cool free stuff.  Free t-shirts, snacks, vitamin samples, etc.  Who doesn't like free stuff? Of course, it does cost money to enter these races, but my point stands.

Swim
So I've done two sprint tris and I was asked the other day, "so what's next?"  The Tinman Triathlon, that's what. The bike and run portions are twice as long as the sprint triathlon distances and the swim is 250 meters longer.  That means it is a 750 meter swim, a 24.8 mile bike, and a 6.2 mile run.  It starts with a swim at Queen's Beach in Waikiki, then we bike around Diamond Head, through Kahala and back, and then a run around Diamond Head.  I am already signed up and ready to go.

Bike
I anticipate the biggest challenge being the a longer distance.  So far I have been satisfied with myself if I ran 5 miles and swam for about 20 minutes.  That's just not going to cut it for this one.  Not only are the distances longer but more people compete.  The previous triathlons have had about 300 competitors.  The Tinman traditionally has 900!  So in order to adequately prepare and come in the top 5-10 in my age group, I really need to swim for longer periods of time and do a lot of supersets (bike and run back-to-back or swim and bike back-to-back).  I also made sure everyone at work knew that I beat my co-worker that I can't let this one slip away!

Run
Training for the Tinman will officially begin next week.  I have visitors coming into town tonight who will be here until Wednesday.  I have done a little bit this week, but not much.  This was mostly a recovery week from the Marine Corps Base Triathlon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I've Been Saying It All Along...

I'm not one to toot my own horn, but in this particular instance, it appears that a recent study has backed up what I have been saying for the last 7 months: Hawaii drivers are the worst in the country.

"Hawaii drivers are among the least knowledgeable about the rules of the road," according to a study by GMAC Insurance. According to the results of the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, Hawaii ranked 50th in the nation with an average score of 73 percent correct.

While I can present plenty of empirical and anecdotal evidence to support the study's conclusions, I will just sit here quietly.  Perhaps this will make me feel better every time I see some crazy Hawaiian driver not paying attention to where he or she is going or randomly stopping in the middle of the road when there is no traffic light or stop sign (yes, I have seen these things happen multiple times).  I now know I'm not crazy.  For the longest time I felt like no one else noticed it and I that I was taking crazy pills (video).  Instead, Hawaiian drivers are just stupid. Phew. I feel better.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Headnote of the Week

In a prosecution for seduction, evidence that the prosecutrix allowed men to kiss her good-night and hug her does not indicate a want of chastity on her part to such an extent as to overcome a verdict of guilty.
State v. McIntire, 56 N.W. 419 (Iowa 1893)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jin Deui

...also known as Sesame Seed Balls.  As I think I've said before, my judge and I graduated from the same law school.  It turns out there are actually a few lawyers in Hawaii who also graduated from our school and today we had what could be loosely described as an "alumni lunch."  There were 6 of us there and we went to Golden Palace for some Dim Sum.  I have had dim sum before and generally I find it to be filling and well worth its inexpensive cost.  I always walk away from Golden Palace full and satisfied.


Well today I was introduced to a new dim sum dish that I had never tried and was really surprised by.  It is Sesame Seed Balls.  Okay, in reality that's just what it looks like.  It's actually called Jin Deui or Jian Dui and is a type of fried Chinese pastry made from glutinous rice flour. The pastry is coated with sesame seeds on the outside and is crisp and chewy.  They are hollow balls of rice pastry filled with either coconut or sugar-enriched beans or other things.  I know how it may sound, but these were pretty delicious.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Whenever I go for dim sum I still just point at the carts as they come by, but I will definitely point to this next time.

Sweet Taste of Victory

In honor of my commanding victory over my co-worker in Sunday's Sprint Triathlon, I thought I would honor myself at work by brining in some snacks for everyone.  Followers of the Pineapple Project know that there are ALWAYS snacks, pastries, and full spreads of food brought in by people that occupy prime real estate on the kitchen table at work.  Since I hadn't brought anything in to wreck people's diets yet, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to include everyone in the spoils of victory.


Originally my plan was to bring in malasadas, but the malasada shop is closed on Mondays.  So I settled on assorted pastries.  I looked around for a bakery in downtown Honolulu and came across The Patisserie (1164 Bishop Street - map here).  I walked in and they have a glass display case with super fresh-looking scones, croissants, muffins, cakes, and doughnuts.  Everything looked so good!  They also make homemade breads, baguettes, and rolls.  So if you're ever in downtown honolulu, I recommend stopping by for some delicious pastries.

It was a big hit at work and it spread the message of my triathlon dominance so it worked out well.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Improvement

So yesterday was the big day.  The Marine Corps Base Hawaii Sprint Triathlon.  In the days following the Lanikai Triathlon, I vowed to take this one seriously and drastically improve my time.  So I actually trained all the way until race day this time around. I swam somewhere around 2-3 times/week and ran 3-4 times/week and biked to work everyday and then did one long ride per week.  It wasn't the most grueling training schedule ever, but it was an improvement over last time.  Then Friday and Saturday before race day, I carbo-loaded by eating lots of bread, pasta, pancakes, and fruit.  Then my co-worker and I went out for a massive pasta dinner at Buca di Beppo (map) on Saturday night and stuffed our faces with some delicious food.

Sunday morning rolled around and I felt good.  I felt prepared and ready to do well, which was a much better feeling than the one I had last time.  There was just one problem: the weather.  We pulled onto the military base and there was heavy cloud cover, strong wind, and it was cold (Hawaii cold...so around 68-70 degrees).  At least it wasn't raining...yet.  It looked like most people were setting up their transition stations in sweatshirts and all I could think about was how cold that water was going to be.

As 7:00am rolled around (start time), everyone was standing on the edge of the water ready to go when the gun went off.  There was a mad dash in the water and while most people were probably focused on getting to the first marker, I was just thankful that the water was really warm.  The swim is still my weakest event, but I found that I was much stronger this time.  Of course, the waves were incredibly choppy because of the strong wind so it made it that much tougher to plow through the water.  Then about halfway through the swim, it started to downpour.  Hard.  The rain reduced visibility to zero, the waves were knocking people all over the place and no one was going straight.  I'm shocked there is still water in Kaneohe Bay b/c I thought I swallowed it all.  Nonetheless, I got out of the water and beat my former swim time by about one and a half to two minutes.

It was still raining as I got on the bike and started to pedal.  Part of the bike course was on the runway and there were massive gusts of 20 mph wind coming right at our face.  I was pedaling as hard as I could but wasn't going anywhere!  Everyone was struggling to fight the wind apparently because at the end of the race that's all people were talking about.  The best part of the bike portion was that I passed my co-worker about 10 minutes into it and never gave back the lead.

Now, I haven't made the plunge to get clip-in bike shoes so I wore sneakers.  And because of all the rain, they were SOAKED.  The water from the tires splashed up and the rain poured down.  So as I took my first steps in the run, not only did my legs feel like bricks from all the pedaling, but the water in my shoes and socks made it feel like there were weights in my shoes.  The running course was nice, though.  For the most part it was flat except for one really steep hill that was just a nightmare.  At one point in the run, though, I looked back to see if my co-worker was closing in.  I saw someone maybe 80 yards behind me who had the same shirt on and the same type of dark shorts and was convinced he was catching up.  So I took off running harder to try to keep my lead.  In the end, however, it wasn't my co-worker...because it turns out I beat him by 7 minutes.

Ultimately, I did not win my age group.  However, I improved my time by 13 minutes and finished close to my goal of 1:10:00.  I didn't beat my goal, but I was happy with my improvement.  Next comes the Tinman.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grand Cafe & Bakery

Lately I have been doing a pretty good job of bringing lunch and cooking dinner.  I find it easier to ensure I'm eating the right stuff when I do that; however, every once in a while I am too lazy.  On days I am too lazy to pack lunch, I go somewhere around town.  Usually it's a sandwich shop.  However, as I've written about before, I am obsessed with deals and airline miles.  Certain restaurants in downtown offer airline miles just for dining there.  For example, I get 3 airline miles for every dollar spent at Indigo.  Well, I just got an email telling me that I get airline miles for eating at the Grand Cafe & Bakery (31 North Pauahi Street - map here).

The "draw" of this place is that they serve healthy, fresh ingredients in a country-style setting.  It has the feel of a homestyle diner in downtown Chinatown.  As I waited for my order, I noticed that all the dishes that came out had pretty substantial portions, which makes the above-average prices seem more justifiable.  I ordered the blackened chicken sandwich and there was a lot of food.  The meal itself, which came with fresh, homemade potato chips, was pretty awesome.  The chicken was tender and well-seasoned and came on a really soft bun with herb aioli.  A co-worker ordered the fish and chips and said he was equally pleased with his order.  If you're every looking for a lunch place in Chinatown (and don't feel like Chinese food), I recommend checking this place out.

Back from Chicago

I went to Chicago last week and got back Sunday night.  So the lack of blog posts was because I was busy enjoying deep dish pizza, 312 beer, and Cubs games.  The first couple days in Chicago represented everything that's great about that city.  The weather was warm.  The Cubs were playing.  People were out walking around enjoying the city.  The beer and food were flowing like water.  And the parks were crowded with people playing community sports.  The last couple days, however, made me happy to come back to Hawaii (temporarily, at least).  The weather literally went from 78 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday to 43 degrees and rainy when I left on Sunday morning.

As far as my triathlon training, I did a fairly decent job keeping up with it.  I worked out a couple days, but not as many as I would have liked.  I ate healthy, but couldn't control myself all week so I enjoyed a few unhealthy meals/snacks/desserts.  Nonetheless, I am back at it and things are going pretty well.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Week 3 - Second Triathlon Training

The third week of my renewed triathlon training hit a minor snag.  It rained all week.  It wasn't just a little rain, either.  There were massive thunderstorms, power outages, and pool closures.  The ocean (and air) was freezing and the roads were constantly flooded.  It was a little insane.  Anyway, this made swimming a lot more difficult.  I didn't give up entirely all week, but I decided to take the opportunity to rest and lift a little more than usual.  The real challenge is going to be this week.  I am headed to Chicago for the next 6 days where the food and alcohol will be plentiful.  I mean, how can one travel to Chicago and NOT eat deep dish pizza or drink Goose Island's 312 beer?  I also won't have access to a bike, a gym, or an ocean.  I suppose I could try to swim in Lake Michigan, but there are two problems with that: 1) it's only early May so the water is FREEZING; and 2) Lake Michigan is gross and dirty.

Anyway, here is my Week 3 training schedule:

Monday - Run 25 min (2.8 mi.) + swim 15 min
Tuesday - Off day
Wednesday - Weight Lifting + Run 26 min (3.1 mi.)
Thursday - Off day
Friday - Bike 20 min. + Run 26 min. (3.1 mi.)
Saturday - Off day
Sunday - Weight Lifting + Bike 50 min. (16 mi.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sandbar Kaneohe

Kāneʻohe Bay is the largest sheltered body of water in the main Hawaiian Islands. This reef-dominated bay constitutes a significant scenic and recreational feature along the windward (northeast) coast of the Island of Oʻahu. The Bay is approximately 8 mi long and 2.7 mi broad, with a mouth opening of about 4.6 mi and maximum depth of 40 ft in the dredged channel. Features unique in the main Hawaiian Islands include one of only two barrier reefs (the other being the 27 mile barrier reef of Molokaʻi island) and extensive development of shoaling coral reefs within a large lagoon.


Prior to last weekend I had never actually been to the bay.  I've played golf over near Kaneohe and the Valley of the Temples is over there, but I had heard the bay is gorgeous.  Anyway, last week the group of people I met at the pro bowl decided to go sailing and invited me to tag along.  They have a 43-foot sailboat that they take out every once in a while and anchor it out at the sandbar in the middle of the bay.  The sandbar is also something I had heard about but had never seen.  


The Kaneohe Sandbar, also known as Ahu o Laka, is a popular picnicking spot among local Oahu residents, particularly among those who have a boat or access to a boat or kayak. It’s the only sandbar of this kind in Hawaii. During low tide, it emerges and forms a shallow and temporary land. During high tide, the water is about hip-deep and deeper towards the edges of the sandbar. People come here to picnic, swim, snorkel, dive, play ball games, or to just relax.  The water is calm and clear and the views are amazing. While you're out on the water you can see the entire Kaneohe Bay from an ocean vantage point, the Koolau Mountains and the small offshore islands of Chinaman’s Hat, Coconut Island and Kekepa (Turtleback Island).


So while we were out there, we had snacks and booze and sun.  What more could you possibly ask for?  We also threw the football and frisbee around just to entertain ourselves.  The real fun came at the end of the day, though.  I suppose everyone just got so caught up in the fun that no one actually seemed to notice the tide change.  Check the tide table before heading out to the sandbar so you know in advance if it’s high or low tide. The activities that you can do on the sandbar vary slightly during these different ocean conditions. You can take out your chairs and put them on the sandbar only during low tide, for example.  Well, your boat can also get stuck in the sand if the tide goes from high to low and you're not paying attention.  This happened to us.  To make a long story short, everyone had to get off the boat and push it out of the sand.  Initially that wasn't enough.  We had to put the sails up, start the motor, and THEN push.  It was all pretty hilarious.  It looked like a Chinese fire drill with about 8 people jumping on and off the boat to get this thing un-stuck.

Overall, it was a fun day.  We are actually going back this weekend!

Lumpia

Earlier, I mentioned that some of the secretaries brought in food to work for Boy's Day.  One of the items, manapua, I already talked about in great detail.  Manapua is a delicious ball of dough filled with pork or chicken or beef or veggies.  Another item they brought in was Lumpia, something I had never heard of.  Everyone in the office got incredibly excited when they heard that Lumpia was in the kitchen.

Apparently there are many types of lumpia.  There is Lumpiang Sariwà (fresh spring roll),
Lumpiang Shanghai (filled with ground pork or beef, minced onion, carrots, and spices with the mixture held together by beaten egg), and Lumpiang Prito/Lumpiang Gulay (literally, fried spring roll).  We had the lumpiang prito and all it's fried goodness.  It was filled with briskly fried pancake, bean sprouts, and various other vegetables such as string beans and carrots. Small morsels of meat or seafood may also be added, but there wasn't any in these.  These, too, were pretty delicious!


Boy's Day

On March 3rd I wrote about girl's day and made some sexist hilarious comments about the Japanese getting it right.  For girl's day, you may recall that someone brought in brownies and fortune cookies to work.  Well, today is BOY'S DAY!  Let me just say, I didn't even know there was a boy's day until I walked into the kitchen.  Again, it seems the Japanese got this one right.  We didn't just get brownies.  Oh no.  The judicial assistants all brought in food for "their boys."  That's right, there are 3 boxes of manapua.  There is a big box of peanut butter crackers.  There is a massive tray of Lumpia (egg rolls).  There is a big bag of bagels with three types of cream cheese spreads.  It's like I died and went to my triathlon training hell!  Anyway, everyone has been in the kitchen all morning snacking on delicious food and hanging out.  As you can imagine, little work is being done.

So what is boy's day?  Good question.  May brings the reminder that in Japan, as in the United States, one of a nation's greatest assets is her children. May 5 is "Children's Day" in Japan, the day to stress the importance of respecting the character of children and promoting their health and happiness. It is also the day for children to express their gratitude for the tender love and care they receive from their parents. On this day Japanese families celebrate Tango-no-Sekku, the Boys' Festival. With its special customs and observances, it is Japan's way of celebrating the healthy growth and development of her young boys.

A carp-like streamer (yes, like the fish) is flown outside your home for each son in the family, a very large one for the eldest, the others ranging down in size.  The carp has become the symbol of the Boys' Festival because the Japanese consider it the most spirited of fish, so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. The carp is an appropriate symbol to encourage manliness and the overcoming of life's difficulties leading to consequent success.

Girls are the guests of their brothers on this occasion just as boys are guests of their sisters on the occasion of the Girls' Festival on March 3. Their parents provide them with the traditional delicacies such as Chimaki (sweet rice dumplings wrapped in iris or bamboo leaves) and Kashiwa-Mochi (rice cakes containing sweet bean paste wrapped in oak leaves).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Headnote of the Week

True Story.

Courts will take judicial notice that whisky is intoxicating. State ex rel. Springer v. Bliss, 185 P.2d 220 (Okla. 1947)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week 2 - Second Triathlon Training

It's hard to predict success this early in the training process.  I didn't start having issues with training until about week 3 last time around.  Thus far, I haven't had any major distractions or disruptions, so I haven't slipped up at all, which is a positive.  I've also done far more swimming this time around, so my confidence is building slowly.  I'm hoping that by May 22 (the day of the sprint triathlon) I'll be able to shave a minute or two off my (swim) time.  Anyway, here is the week 2 training schedule.

Monday - Run 25 min. (2.8 mi.) + swim 30 min. (1200 meters)
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Run 26 min. (3.1 mi.) + swim 30 min. (1200 meters)
Thursday - Weight Lifting
Friday - Weight Lifting
Saturday - Bike 2 1/2 hours (35 mi.)
Sunday - Run 46 min. (6 mi.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Headnote of the Week

This week's headnote comes from Paul Clement, the former Solicitor General who is defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman and says that no state (or other political subdivision within the United States) is required to recognize a same-sex marriage in another state (i.e. if a gay couple is married in Massachusetts, Arkansas does not have to recognize that marriage if the couple moves to Arkansas).

Paul Clement used to be a partner at the law firm King & Spalding.  However, King & Spalding didn't want to get hate mail from gay groups be associated with defending an unpopular bill and so Paul Clement quit today and joined another law firm.  In his resignation letter, he said:


Amen.

Kaena Point

Friday was a pretty fun day - and full of adventure.  The original plan included hiking Kaena Point on the West Coast of O'ahu followed by snorkeling and lunch, etc.  After driving about 50 minutes to the entrance to Kaena Point, we were turned away because we did not have the required permit!  What makes this troubling is that the Hawaii State Parks website specifically says, "no permit required."  This, my friends, is the Hawaiian Government at its finest.  See, Kaena Point is located on the grounds for a military observatory.  It's not in the restricted area, but it's next to it.  So they, understandably, need to keep track of who comes and goes.  I have no problem with the permit being required.  I have a problem telling the public that they don't need one.  Just remember: you DO need a permit.


Here's the description of Kaena Point:  The trail to Ka‘ena Point follows an old railroad bed and former dirt road that ran along the westernmost point of O‘ahu. The trail leads to Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve, a remote and scenic protected area harboring some of the last vestiges of coastal sand dune habitat on the island, and home to native plants and seabirds. Whales frequent this shoreline during the winter months.


All in all, it wasn't that big a deal.  The West side is absolutely gorgeous.  I had never been over there, but I want to go again (and hike this time, of course).  They have a bunch of gorgeous beaches over there that are virtually abandoned.  The highway to get out there also follows the coastline all the way, so while you're driving you're in between huge mountains and clear blue water.  It's at the last beach on Farrington Highway.

Mexico

No, I don't plan to take a trip there.  Mexico is the name of a Mexican restaurant outside of downtown Honolulu that is actually worthy of being called "mexican food."  It's legit.  As I've written about before, it is nearly impossible to find good Mexican food in Hawaii.  I don't think you can legitimately have a Mexican restaurant unless you have Juan and Jose slingin' my burrito in the kitchen.  In Hawaii, it's always "Asian-inspired" Mexican with no Mexicans in the kitchen.

Not here.  First, the margaritas are fantastic.  Second, the food tastes fresh and authentic.  There is nothing worse than fake Mexican (or anything, really) that then tastes re-heated and processed.  Mexico (1247 North School Street Honolulu, HI 96817 - map here) had fresh fish, fresh vegetables, and even real chips and salsa.  If you're in Hawaii and miss the Mexican food from home, stop by this place and give it a try.  Another nice thing about this place is that it's not located in the middle of any major metropolitan areas.  In other words, not a lot of tourists to degrade the authenticity and atmosphere.  So if you're looking for a quality meal outside of town, hit up this place and bring your appetite.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pineapple Growth (6 months down)

Ok, so the original purpose of this blog - to grow a pineapple in 2 years and blog about my adventures while documenting the growth of the pineapple - went to shit.  It's mostly laziness.  I have to take the pictures of the pineapples, upload them to my computer, do a write-up, and then upload it to the blog.  This may not sound like a whole lot of effort, but it's enough to deter me.

Anyway, since I accepted a job in Chicago and will be moving back in September (and subsequently changed the countdown), people have surprisingly asked frequently "what about your pineapple?"  Well, there is good news and bad news, I'm afraid.  The good news is that Pineapple #2 is doing very well.  You'll recall that I bought potting soil and planted Pineapple #2 in a bigger pot from the beginning.  This, I predicted, would lead to better growth.  It seems this prediction is coming true.  As you can see from the photos, Pineapple #2 is looking healthy and strong.  The bad news is that Pineapple #1, while alive, does not look as vibrant as Pineapple #2.  Pineapple #1, planted nearly a month before it's companion, looks a little wilted and run down.  I'm not sure why this is the case, but it does not look like it's on the road to bearing fruit any time soon.

Well, without further adoo, here are the updated pictures:

Photo Taken April 24, 2011
Pineapple #2 - Photo Taken April 24, 2011/Planted October 25, 2010

Pineapple #1 - Photo Taken April 24, 2011/Planted October 25, 2010
 Now, as you can see, both pineapples are doing well.  I say they're doing well, but obviously I have no sense of whether that's true or not.  For all I know, they should be bigger, have more leaves, growing buds, or whatever else happens with pineapples.  However, I don't think they're dead, which is always a positive.  For purposes of comparing, you can see the originals below:

Pineapple #2 on October 25, 2010
Pineapple #1 on October 25, 2010 (planted a month before this picture)

Week 1 - Second Triathlon Training

As I mentioned before, I am doing another sprint triathlon on May 22.  This one is on the marine corps base in Kaneohe on the East side of O'ahu.  It's the same distance as the Lanikai Triathlon - 500 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.  Since my Lanikai Sprint Triathlon results were less than inspiring, I vowed to get serious for this one.  So here is the schedule of my first week of training:

Monday, April 18 - Run 45 minutes (5 mi) + Swim 30 minutes
Tuesday, April 19 - Off
Wednesday, April 20 - Run 45 minutes (5 mi) + Swim 30 minutes
Thursday, April 21 - Off
Friday, April 22 - Bike 40 minutes (13 mi) + Swim 50 minutes
Saturday, April 23 - Off
Sunday, April 24 - Run 40 minutes (6 mi)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Headnote of the Week

This week I decided to do something different for the Headnote of the Week.  Instead of giving you a quote from a real case, I wanted to give readers a sense of what I read on a regular basis.  What follows is a quote from one party's brief in a case I am working on.  Please keep in mind that this is written by a private lawyer (i.e. being paid) for a criminal defendant facing serious jail time.  I have omitted nothing (i.e. the lawyer cited no cases to support his argument).  The brief was written in March, though, so maybe the lawyer had March Madness on the brain...

"Without a defense expert to contravert [sic] or at least contest the conclusions reached by the prosecution's expert witnesses . . . [this case] is akin to showing up to play a game of basketball with only four players instead of five players.  The result of such a game, all things being equal, is easy to predict.  The same is true with a trial. If the other side produces an expert witness, it is ineffective assistance of counsel for a defense attorney not to produce a defense expert on the same subject matter to contest or challenge the conclusions reached by the government's expert witness.  This is what occurred in this case, and this is why there was ineffective assistance of counsel as regards this issue."

Could you represent yourself?

Let me explain something.  If you find yourself in legal trouble or you're involved in a lawsuit of some kind, do your research before you hire a lawyer.  Don't just hire the first retard that comes knocking.  In fact, if they're advertising, chances are they need your business.  If they need your business, what does that say about them?  If you find yourself in legal trouble in Hawai'i...well...I don't know what to tell you.  You're probably not going to find a quality lawyer.  You might get lucky, but you're probably screwed.  Or maybe you find some good lawyers but, since they're the only good ones around, they charge more than you can afford.  I can honestly say you might just be better off representing yourself IF (and ONLY IF) you are not an idiot.  What do I mean by that?

First, can you spell correctly?  For example, can you correctly use there, they're, and their or your and you're?  If not, then writing motions is going to prove difficult for you and you're probably too dumb to represent yourself.  Second, can you write in complete sentences?  This means using correct grammar with clear thoughts.  Finally, can you understand that when you make a legal argument, you must support that argument with (1) evidence and (2) case law?  You can't just say, "that crazy bitch is a liar."  Case law is the collection of cases that have already been decided that have facts similar to the facts of your dispute.  You can research case law for free at any local law school library or courthouse library.

We see a lot of pro se litigants (people representing themselves) in Hawaii.  For whatever reason, they choose to forego a lawyer.  So instead, they represent themselves and write 35 page briefs that fail to cite a single case.  Sometimes they'll cite cases but fail to argue what that case has to do with their case.  I hate to say it, but pro se litigants almost always lose when they face a lawyer.  Why?  Because even though the lawyer is bad, the lawyer often knows to cite cases and make a reasonably intelligent argument.  A persuasive legal argument is different than saying, "Joe didn't live up to the contract."  So, consider how smart you really are before you decide to represent yourself.  Consider how smart your lawyer is before you hand him or her a check.  And for the love of God, proofread your shit before you turn it in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Manoa Valley District Park

I discovered last night that there is a community swimming pool about 2 1/2 miles from my apartment that is perfect for swim training.  The pool is located at the Manoa Valley District Park.  It's 50 meters long, so an olympic sized pool, has about 8 lanes for swimming laps, and three times a week they are open from 6:30-8:30pm so I can swim after work.  It's free to use and it wasn't even all that crowded.  As with everything in Hawaii, though, there were some confused asians swimmers who didn't know what was going on or how to stay in one lane, but for the most part it was the perfect set up for my purposes.


The park itself is also pretty cool.  They have basketball courts, baseball fields, a track, and the pool.  The only downside would be that there are usually events scheduled so you need to know when to show up (i.e. lots of games scheduled on weekends).  But to have such a great (and free) place in the middle of Manoa is perfect.  I've heard some people say that the fields could be better maintained, but the pool was in perfect shape.  So I'd say for a community park/pool, you can't beat this place.

I am particularly excited to have found the pool because now I don't have to rush to the beach immediately after work to get in a swim before dark.  I also don't have to deal with dirty, gross water and sand in my ass crack.  It's the perfect solution.  Now yes, swimming in the ocean is different, and harder, than swimming in a pool.  The current and tide wreak havoc.  However, for the Lanikai Triathlon, I swam at best once a week for 20 minutes in the ocean (and not at all the month prior to the triathlon).  Swimming in a pool is better than doing nothing.  I also plan to swim once on weekends in the ocean, so that should be all right.  So the current plan is to run to the pool, swim, and run back.  I'm out for blood in the next one.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Well that didn't take long...

I said I hate losing.  More than anything I hate that nagging feeling that I could have done more or could have done better.  Maybe it's my ego.  Maybe my narcissistic type A personality.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, though, it led me to sign up for another triathlon.  Two, actually.  The first is another sprint triathlon on the marine corps base in Kaneohe on the East side of O'ahu.  The other is the Tinman Olympic distance triathlon in Honolulu.

I signed up for two triathlons for a few reasons.  First, I decided to do another sprint distance to prove that my crappy time in the lanikai sprint triathlon was a fluke.  I am out to beat my time (and my friend who also did the lanikai triathlon this past weekend).  Second, triathlons are a lot of fun.  They're not like marathons or bike races where you just do the same thing for a couple hours.  No, triathlons work your whole body and mix things up to the point so you can't just rely on muscle memory.  So I actually did enjoy myself.  Third, I signed up for the Olympic distance to prove that I can do "real" triathlons and I can cross triathlons off my "to do" list without any harassing conversations!

This time, I'm taking no prisoners, though.  I'm going to train seriously this time with no excuses.

Lanikai Triathlon

Sunday, April 17 was the 10th annual Lanikai Triathlon.  I competed in it.  Though, I suppose it's fair to say that what I did was not so much "competing" as it was "participating."  I didn't exactly give anyone a scare in terms of my competitive prowess.  Nonetheless, it was a fun time and I'm glad I did it.  There were about 360 people in the race and it was really well organized.  There was plenty of space for all the participants in the transition area and everyone was really nice and energetic.  The volunteers were amazing and helpful, so it was overall a great experience.

Setting up at 4:30am
You may notice that on the right side of my blog, I have checked off my "goals" list that I competed in a triathlon.  I discussed with someone yesterday, however, that I shouldn't be able to say I did a "real" triathlon because it was only a sprint triathlon.  Now, my achy legs and shoulders take exception to this remark, but I began to think: this person had a point.  On one hand, sure, I worked out for an hour and a half and I did, in fact, do three events - swim, bike, and run in succession.  On the other hand, it was a short distance and nowhere near the length of an Olympic distance.  So can I really mislead people by suggesting that I will be the next Ironman?

Getting Free Stuff
So my answer to the charge is first, feel free to compete in your own triathlon and then give me a call.  But my competitive nature really kicked in this weekend.  I showed up at 4:30am to set up my transition station and realized that I was grossly unprepared.  I mean sure, I trained for the first three weeks, but then everything went to shit.  I looked around and there were some seriously competitive people there.  Even then I figured I was athletic enough to hang in there.  Not so much.  At the end of the day, I felt like I accomplished something, but not what I wanted to accomplish; I wanted to be competitive.  I wanted the triathlon to be the culmination of months of hard work, commitment, and discipline.  I wanted to cross the finish line gasping for air because I pushed myself.  I didn't do that on Sunday.

Finish Line
So that raises the question: do I want to do another one?  I did have fun this weekend.  It was definitely a challenge and they gave out free stuff at the end! Who doesn't like free stuff?  Jamba Juice smoothie?  I'll have 6, please.  I think I do want to do another one.  The only concern I have, of course, is my ability to train for the next few months.  I am going to have the same challenges I had this time: visitors coming to Hawaii and going on a week-long golf trip with a bunch of old men who drink more in one sitting than I can usually drink in a weekend, and a week-long trip to Chicago.  At what point would I be able to sufficiently train so that I can be competitive the next time around.  I refuse to do another triathlon unless I can devote my full energy to the training.

For now, I am happy to say that I have done a Sprint Triathlon and I look forward to the next.

Ko'olau Golf Course

Five day work weeks and two day weekends are a cruel joke.  How can I possibly be expected to fully relax and enjoy Hawaii when I'm slaving away?  Last week was one such week.  No holiday.  No furlough.  Just a two day weekend.  Since my precious time was so limited, I had to pack in the activities.  Saturday I played golf at what Golf Digest in 2007 called the "toughest in the nation."  In 2010, it was merely the Third Most Diabolical.


Here's the review from ESPN: "With parts of the course receiving 130 inches of rain a year, this is target golf at its soggiest. You won't need a caddie so much as a backcountry guide. The roughs are tropical rain forests, the hazards mostly uncharted ravines filled with jungle and undiscovered reptilian life forms. Typical of the course's unsubtle presentation, the 474-yard, par-4 18th features two long forced carries over canyons plus a 330-yard bunker off the tee and a 220-yard bunker to the green. Legend has it that the course record was once 63 … lost balls. Ko'olau used to have a Slope Rating of 162, even though the maximum possible is 155."


I actually didn't find it all that difficult.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't shoot an 80 or anything, but I also shot under 100.  To me, I thought Luana Hills was much more difficult.  The one thing Ko'olau Golf course has that no other course I've played has is perfect conditions.  The sand traps were in immaculate shape.  The greens had no divots, holes, ball marks, or different colored sod.  The fairways had virtually no divot marks and even the tee boxes were in great shape.  On top of that, the course is at the bottom of the Ko'olau Mountain Range so there are sweeping vistas all around and ocean views on at least 4 holes.  It was by far the most beautiful course I have ever seen.  Even the club house and restaurant are picture perfect.  You enter the club house via a grand, carpeted staircase with a waterfall fountain in the middle and plants and flowers along the side.

From the 15th Tee Box
In terms of difficulty, you have to play VERY conservatively.  I think what saved me was playing for bogey.  The men's tees are at 6500 yards while the tournament tees are at 7400.  It's a long, narrow course with no forgiveness.  If you can play straight, though, you'll be all right. 

As I was standing on the 15th tee box, I had another "Hawaii Moment" where I realized how awesome this place is and how fortunate I am to have lived here for a brief period of time.  I also got a sense of real happiness when I realized that I will be here for a year instead of two.  There are not many things better than being able to play golf every weekend and enjoy 80 degree weather year 'round.  But I also have other things I am anxious to do in my life/career so this was the perfect opportunity to enjoy Hawaii on a temporary basis, take advantage of the weather and cheap resident-fees on golfing and then move on.  Saturday was the perfect epiphany.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Packet Pick-up

Sunday is the Lanikai Sprint Triathlon.  The race organizers have been sending emails all week telling participants where they can pick up their packets, what to bring, what to expect, etc.  The fact that the race is actually happening didn't sink in until this week.  I went to the website, saw the race map, and realized that I hate doing things half-assed.  I mean, if you're going to compete in something, why not race to win?  I never understood or appreciated the saying "everyone's a winner."  Everyone is not a winner.  Vince Lombardi once said, "if it didn't matter who won, then why keep score?"

Now, I am not saying there is no point in doing something if you can't win.  That being said, the goal should always be to try to win. Unfortunately, my training went to hell in a handbasket and being competitive is probably out of the question.  That doesn't mean I'm not going to try like hell to still place as high as I can.  I am still looking forward to the race (and the post-race free stuff).

So anyway, today and tomorrow is the packet pick-up for the race.  Then the race begins at 6:15am on Sunday morning.  Last year's winner finished in just under an hour and the last place person took about two hours.  So I imagine I'll finish somewhere around 1 hour and 15-20 minutes.  Then afterwards Jamba Juice sponsors post-race refreshments.

Here is the map of the race (500m swim, 20k bike, and 5k run);

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Next Scuba Trip

Now that I'm scuba certified (and leaving Hawaii in September), I figured I should take advantage of it.  Lucky for me, today's LivingSocial deal was 50% a charted boat scuba diving tour.  For certified divers, you get a two-tank dive for $59 (normally $125).

I was explaining scuba diving to someone the other day and I think the best way to describe it is like swimming through an aquarium.  You're in a zero gravity environment just floating around looking at cool stuff that no one else gets to really see.  I'm looking forward to the boat dive because I think that's going to be the best way to dive.  During the training course we did shore dives where you put your gear on at the car and walk across the beach into the water.  That just seems particularly inconvenient and unnecessarily time-consuming.  I think I am going to prefer just entering the water from the boat.  Then after you're finished with one tank, come up to the boat, have a snack, and then go down with the second tank.  You can also avoid all the sand and crap that gets stuck on you as you cross the beach.  Plus, who doesn't enjoy being out on a boat in the middle of the ocean just hanging out in gorgeous weather?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hiking to Secret Falls - Kaua'i

As I wrote about earlier, I went to Kaua'i recently for a short trip of hiking, coffee drinking, and kayaking.  It was the second time I had traveled to the northernmost Hawaiian island and it was also the best visit.  The highlight was by far kayaking the Wailua River followed by a hike to Secret Falls.


This 5 hour trip starts with a Kayak trip up the Wailua river, through tropical jungle. Several miles up the river you paddle in to shore, secure your Kayak then hike inland through a tropical rainforest to Secret Falls, a 100 foot waterfall that you can swim beneath. Along the trail you will pass other smaller, but even more beautiful falls at hidden places. While you can rent a Kayak and do this trip without a guide, it is probably easier to make this part of a guided hike/trip - that way you don't have to worry about the Kayak when you leave it tied up during the hike.

Our guide was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, which made it all the more entertaining.  He told us about all the different fauna along the way.  Of course I forget most of what he told us, and for all I know he could have lied about most of it anyway.  Nonetheless, it was interesting while we were there.  The hike itself was along a well-worn path through fairly thick rainforest.  At the end of the mile-long hiking trail, the path opens up to the waterfall.  We brought lunch, ate, and then went swimming underneath the waterfall.  Yes, I was worried about leptospirosis, but I quickly got over that when I jumped in and my testicles shriveled up to the size of raisins.  The water was unbelievably FREEZING.  It was still fun, though.  Definitely one of my favorite hiking trips I've done here.