Monday, January 31, 2011

Luana Hills Golf Course

I had another "Hawai'i Moment" (times when I look around and realize that I live in a pretty awesome place) during my most recent Furlough Friday when I spent the morning playing golf at Luana Hills near Kailua.  Ever since I brought my golf clubs back with me after Christmas, a co-worker and I have been playing golf every weekend.  Normally we just play for $10 at the Pali Golf Course.  However, last Friday we decided to try Luana Hills.  Nestled between Mount Olomana and the towering Ko'olau Mountains, Luana Hills is one of the most unique and breathtaking golf courses I've ever seen. Carved from tropical rainforest in the heart of lush Maunawili Valley, the course is not only gorgeous, but strikingly difficult.  It might be the hardest course I've ever played, which doesn't say a whole lot, but still.

Signature Hole (#11)
The course itself was designed by golf architect Pete Dye and is a high risk/high rewards course.  Stretching across 6,595 yards from the back tees (5522 from the White), golfers have to consider a lot before they tee up in front of an array of forced carries, bunkers bordered by railroad ties, par-3s over streams and ravines, undulating bent grass, and fairways that slope off into bunkers and ravines. The course's signature hole is set deep in the rainforest along Maunawili Stream where you have to shoot over two fountains and a pond to get to the green.

Set in historic Maunawili Valley, this area was once the meeting place of great Hawaiian warriors and the island's queen.  Now it is home to a variety of wildlife. Native Hawaiian birds like the rare Aku`u nest in the palms and koa trees, and wild boar visit the streams. The hidden valley course is a site for feature films and a frequent stop of celebrities visiting Hawai'i, including both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Luana Hills is the perfect place for those looking for a quiet escape (but be prepared to lose your golf balls - I literally lost was a long day).

Some Details:
Course Type: 18 holes, par 72
Yardage: 6595/6164/5522/4654
Slope: 136/131/126/139/117/129
Rating: 70.9/68.8/66.2/70.9/61.7/67.4
Price: Kama'aina - $39 weekday/$49 weekend
          Guest/Non-resident - $125 + tax
Golf Carts: yes
Pull Carts: no
Walking Allowed: no
Greens: Bent
Fairways: Bent
Dress Code: proper golf attire
GPS Tracking: no
Lessons: yes
Club House: yes
Pro Shop: yes
Restaurant: yes
Bar: yes
Showers: no
Lockers: yes
Rider Fee: $20
Practice Green: yes
Driving Range: yes
Club Rental: Callaway $50

Week 3 Triathlon Training

This week, I looked at the 2009 and 2010 race results for the Lanikai Triathlon and compared the various winners' times to my training times.  I think that might have been a mistake.  I am a naturally competitive person.  I think most lawyers are.  I played competitive sports growing up and into college.  I love to win and I hate losing.  I also think it's really important to push yourself to try new things, have different experiences, and learn as much as you can.  Obviously you don't have to compete in sports to do all those things, but that mentality has carried over into my training.  I originally set a goal to finish in 1:10:00.  However, looking at the results from the last two years, I have a new goal.  I want to finish in the top 10-25.  The only problem, of course, is that to do that in the last 2 years would have required a time of less than an hour.  Right now, my times are nowhere close to that.  Yeah yeah, I know.  It's still early and it's my first triathlon.  I don't buy into those excuses.  I'm a relatively athletic person who should be able to make a strong showing.

I went out and bought two books on triathlons the other day - Your First Triathlon (yes, it does sound like a child's book) and Triathlon 101 - and have found them both informative, but maybe a little simplistic.  They each say that the goal of your first triathlon should be to "finish with a smile."  Yes, I swear it says that.  I feel like the book is written for parents whose kids are retarded but still get the "everyone's a winner" trophy.  I smile when I win.  You should not be smiling when you finish in 100th place. I understand that the book is designed to encourage everyone, but this whole "you're a winner if you try" crap is exactly the kind of mentality that led Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to say that America has turned into a country of wusses.  That said, I think the books' nutrition chapters about the proper foods to eat to boost energy and build muscle will be incredibly helpful.

Anyway, I am getting off track.  So far, in week three I have been doing a pretty good job of staying on pace with the training.  My uncle was nice enough to send me his really nice triathlon bike so I have a fighting chance out there.  When I told him that I planned to just get a Craigslist mountain bike, I believe his exact words were "hey rook, get serious.  converse high tops and gym shorts ain't gonna cut it." I appreciated his enthusiasm.  This is another reason I love having a big family.  There is always someone there to encourage you and help out whenever they can.  I'm pretty excited to get it all set up.  In fact, there is a triathlon club here in Hawaii that holds weekly bike rides, seminars on fixing/tuning up your bike, etc that I am going to start participating in.  Island Triathlon & Bike is going to be a great resource, I think.

So here was my Week 3 Schedule:

Monday - Swim 25 minutes
Tuesday - 40 minute run (was supposed to be 48 - I got bored) and 20 minute bike (again, should have been longer, but I got bored and tired)
Wednesday - weight training + 45 minute bike
Thursday - Off
Friday - 38 minute swim + 29 minute run
Saturday - 45 minute bike + 10 minute run + weight training
Sunday - Pro Bowl - too much drinking to train

And of course, if anyone has any training suggestions, post them in the comments!  Now that I will be riding a bike outdoors (I have previously been riding stationary bikes in the gym), I'll be posting pictures of my training progress.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Palazzo Ristorante Italiano

I know it may seem like I get out and explore a lot, but my experiences are generally limited to a small geographic area.  It didn't take long before I developed the Hawaiian mindset where a 20-30 minute drive to the western part of the island was a major hassle not worth the trip.  Not surprisingly, therefore, there are things that I haven't tried.  One of those places is Palazzo Restaurant in Aiea.  See, Hawaii is great for a lot of food - as long as it's some type of Asian.  This does not include Mexican and it does not include Italian.  However, the reviews on this place were positive, but going here required going out to Aiea, which is past the airport.  Crazy, I know.  Anyway, it's a little Italian restaurant tucked away in the back of the Aiea shopping plaza.  It's located at 99-080 Kauhale St # C2 Aiea, HI 96701 (map here).  So based on the feedback, we decided to give it a try before bowling the other night.

I think I would go back.  The food was really good, but the service left a lot to be desired.  It wasn't busy at all, but there was no host/hostess to seat us for several minutes when we arrived.  Then once we finally sat down and ordered, it took about a half an hour to get the food.  That was the only negative of this place, though.  The ambiance was nice and it wasn't like a lot of Italian restaurants where the guests sit on top of each other and can hear the neighbor's conversation.  There was space between the tables and dividers between the two halves of the room.  There was some soft music playing as well.  The whole place had a very quiet atmosphere with a feel of a little boutique restaurant.  For anyone who likes to find hidden gems outside of the bustle of tourist places, I definitely recommend this spot.

The food itself was good.  I had the Osso Buco (veal) and it just melted in my mouth.  It also came with linguine and sauce with heaping portions of each.  Pricing was okay, too.  For the size of the portions and everything, I thought it was worth it.  If you like Italian food and you're willing to explore a little, check this place out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Criminal Justice in Hawaii

The Judiciary's annual report - entitled Justice in Jeopardy - details the current state of the Hawaiian Judiciary and discusses the impact that furloughs and budget cuts have had on the operation of the court system.  The report itself is 14 pages long and is a very easy read if you're interested.  However, since I know most people 1) don't care, 2) don't like to read boring things, and 3) like interesting bullet points, here is something I think people might want to know - the criminal stuff.

Before I get to the facts and figures, I have to explain why I decided to highlight this.  Every time I get asked what kind of law I practice, I calmly (and quickly) explain that I work for a judge.  Then I get asked, "so do you do prosecution or defense?"  See, I have two theories as to why this is the case:  1) the person did not read my blog post on how the judiciary works, and 2) most people get their information about the legal system from Law & Order.  So no one really understands anything beyond criminal law.  Even if they've been to civil court before, people think the "plaintiff" is the "prosecution." Besides all that, the sexy stuff of the law is found in who's going to jail.

Here is a quote from an attorney in private practice about the current criminal justice system in Hawaii: “[A]s a practicing litigator, I can share with you the impact that the budget cuts on the Judiciary have caused.  Among my case load, I have a case that is about four years old that has been ready to go to trial since late last year.  It has been delayed because of the backlog of criminal trials and was recently reset to [redacted], 2011 - a year away.  Many of my colleagues are reporting similar occurrences. The Judiciary allows economic, political and social life to function properly and it must be spared any further budget cuts.”

So here you go:  In FY2010, the Hawai'i Judiciary was involved with:

◆ 68,041 criminal traffic cases including:
          • 13,593 DWI/DUI cases
          • 1,264 reckless driving cases

◆ 94,479 District Court criminal cases including:
          • 9,413 larceny/theft cases
          • 6,154 assault cases
          • 2,169 vandalism cases
          • 1,349 prostitution cases
          • 4,096 narcotics cases
          • 1,232 sex offense cases

◆ 17,220 Circuit Court criminal cases including:
          • 178 murder & manslaughter cases
          • 97 forcible rape cases
          • 1,602 aggravated assault cases
          • 1,235 burglary cases
          • 2,686 larceny/theft cases
          • 3,633 narcotics cases

American Judicature Society's Special Committee on the Effects of the Economy on the Judiciary

As I have written about numerous times HERE and HERE, the State of Hawai'i is having budget issues (to put it mildly).  The annual budget meeting was a few weeks ago and my judge was in charge of reporting what the judiciary was feeling with respect to budget cuts and furlough days.  When I say it was my judge's job, I think we all know what that means.

My judge drafted a survey that consisted of only four questions...presumably because most lawyers are too self-important to be bothered by such non-sense as answering a few survey questions.  Anyway, I found the responses pretty interesting if simplistically obvious.  The four questions, which were sent out to the 82 judges sitting on the Family Courts, Circuit Courts, Intermediate Court of Appeals, and Hawaii Supreme Court (all state court judges) were:

1. Has your decision-making been impaired by judiciary budget cuts? If so, please explain.

2. Are you able to perform your duties so that your conduct and performance are not subject to undue pressures or criticism? If not, please explain.

3. Do you believe that budget cuts have impinged on the courts' effectiveness? If so, please explain.

4. Have the cutbacks impacted judicial independence? If so, please explain.

21 judges responded to the survey (25% response rate) and then we summarized their answers so my judge could present the findings to the American Judicature Society.  The results of the survey were used to help the Judiciary develop it's annual report on the State of the Judiciary.  In fact, today Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald delivered his first State of the Judiciary Address using a lot of the facts and figures found in the survey and report.

The report - entitled Justice in Jeopardy (pdf copy of the report) - echoes a lot of what I've written about here before - furloughs suck.  The Judiciary report sums it up a little more eloquently, though by saying "these reductions have had substantial negative effects throughout the judicial system, by reducing, delaying and in some cases eliminating important services. Notably, Hawaii’s families and most vulnerable citizens have been significantly impacted."  The report went on to discuss budget cuts by saying, "Adequately funding the state court system is an investment in justice, and an investment in our democracy that should not be compromised even during tough economic times."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rum Fire

Rum Fire at the Sheraton Waikiki (2255 Kalakaua Avenue - see map here) is an awesome spot for sunset cocktails or drinks on the water.  The only real appeal to this place is the ambiance.  The service is actually terrible.  I have gone there maybe 5-6 times and I have yet to be even moderately impressed with their service.  The waitresses (they've all been women so far) are slow and unfriendly.  Every time we've been there we've had to specifically ask someone to take our drink order or to ask for another drink.  But maybe it's been busy and they were overwhelmed?  Nope.  I've been there when it's busy during their nightcap specials, I've been there in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday, and I've been there in the evening on a Saturday.  The service is terrible.

So why do I tell everyone to go here when they visit Honolulu?  Because if you go during Happy Hour or during their nightcap specials (i.e. when drinks/food are cheap) and have a drink while sitting outside looking out over the water with Diamond Head in the distance, it's pretty much impossible to be upset about anything (see the pictures?).  If you sit close to the bar, it can get loud, though, so I recommend trying to find a seat outside.  I have never had a problem finding a table outside (just a problem getting served).

I've never had dinner there and I rarely see people with entrees, but I have had lunch and I would recommend passing.  The sandwich I ordered tasted fine, but what you get does not justify the cost.  You're better off sticking to pre-dinner drinks/appetizers during happy hour (4-6pm M-F) or the nightcap specials (9:30-11:15pm M-F).  Here is a copy of their happy hour menu if you're interested.  Cocktails during this time are $5, draft beer is $3, house wine is $5, certain shots are $3, and appetizers (i.e. edamame, nachos, baby back ribs, chicken wings, fish tacos, chips and salsa, etc.) range from $4 to $10.  Overall, if you can go and just relax and remember that you're not on the mainland and just enjoy the company and scenery, it's a must-go place.  You can view their lunch menu here and dinner menu here.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 2 Triathlon Training

The second week of triathlon training has convinced me that doing triathlons is not going to be my newest hobby.  Sure, it'll be cool to say I finished one (well, a sprint triathlon anyway), but beyond that I don't really see the appeal.

Week 2's schedule looked like this:

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 44 minute run + weight training
Wednesday - 53 minute bike + weight training
Thursday - Off
Friday - 26 minute run
Saturday - 30 minute swim
Sunday - got too drunk the night before and did not do the scheduled 88 minute bike

Now, for those paying attention at home, that amounts to only about 5 hours.  Seriously, when you think about 5 hours a week of exercise, it's nothing.  At the same time, when I'm in the middle of it, I feel like I am going to die.  Actually, the truth is, I can already tell I am improving in the swim.  When I first started, I was convinced I was going to drown.  Now I can go for a pretty solid distance before needing a rest (well, compared to when I started).

I think the toughest thing about doing the different exercises is that I just get bored in the middle of it.  I literally sit there and think, "yea, I'm over this. I want something to eat."  So I'm hoping that I lose that attitude and am able to focus on improving my times.

Date of Triathlon: Sunday, April 17, 2011

Doraku Sushi

Doraku Sushi is located in the heart of Waikiki on the second floor of the Royal Hawaiian shopping plaza, at 2233 Kalakaua Avenue.  I've now been there twice and have nothing but the best things to say about it.  Overall, I think it's the best sushi I've had in Hawaii.  The ambiance makes it even better.  It is always full inside, but never too crowded and never too loud.  If you like sushi, this place is a must.  The only complaint I might have is that it can be a bit over-priced.  I think that's just because it's in the heart of Waikiki. If you're planning a trip to Honolulu, take a look at their menu.  My favorite item on the menu is the White Dragon Roll (you'll see it under specialty rolls).

Inside Doraku
This weekend my roommates and I went here for a little birthday celebration.  We ordered pretty much everything on the menu!  We ordered the red dragon and white dragon rolls.  We ordered spicy tuna, mackerel, fatty tuna, salmon, hamachi, unagi (eel), edamame, and two bottles of sake.  That wasn't all, though.  The coolest part of the night was that my roommate Alan knew the executive chef.  See, Alan talks a lot.  When he goes out, he talks to anyone who is around and doesn't carry much of a filter.  Anyway, one night he was out at a sake bar talking with another guest.  They somehow got on the topic of sushi, etc. and the guest told him about Doraku.  Alan, having previously eaten there, told the guest that he didn't really like that place because he had a bad experience.  It turns out that the guest Alan was talking to was the Executive Chef at Doraku.  So hearing about Alan's bad experience, the Chef suggested that Alan bring his friends and the Chef would make us special dishes.  So fast forward to Saturday night, and sure enough, the Executive Chef comes out and explains that he was going to make us five special plates that are not on the menu.

During the course of the evening, he brought out different plates, explaining what they were, what was in them, how they're made, and gave us a run down of all the elements of the plate - textures, fish, and best ways to eat them.  It was awesome.  The food was phenomenal and everyone had a really good time.

Birthday Weekend

It's my birthday.  This weekend, we partied like it's my birthday (thank you 50 cent).  I also decided that I have no idea what I am going to do when I go back to the real world where 3-day weekends are not regular occurrences.  Furlough days are a gift from God himself.  All right, Friday night I actually spent doing nothing.  It was glorious.  I cleaned my room, did some laundry, watched Disc 2/Season 2 of Dexter (trying to catch up), and Sherlock Holmes.  The craziness began on Saturday.  I woke up and went to the beach.  Going to the beach on weekends has been a regular thing for me since I started training for the triathlon.  I go and swim in the ocean and then lay on the beach.  Yes, I live a tough life.  So I went to Ala Moana beach for a little while.  Then I went to Costco and came home.  When I came home, one of my roommates, "Alan," came in and said "we're going to dinner at Doraku."  He also informed me that my "no drinking" triathlon policy was being put on a birthday hold.

Aaaaanndd that's the last thing I remember.  Just kidding. I'll write a separate review of Doraku, but suffice it to say we had a lot of sushi.  We also drank two large bottles of Sake.  There were five of us that went (my two roommates, a guy who lives upstairs that we just met, and another guy my roommate Alan knew).  Overall, dinner was amazing and we had a really good time.  The craziest thing was Alan paid for the entire meal...for all of us.  I suppose dinner always tastes a lot better when someone else buys.

The night wasn't over, though.  From there, we went to Top of Waikiki, which is a revolving restaurant overlooking Waikiki.  They have happy hour from 5-7 and then again from 9-11. It was about 9:45 when we got there, so we all ordered the gayest Martinis ever.  Yep, five guys sitting together ordering pomegranate martinis with sugar on the rim.  James Bond would cry.  For anyone interested, though, all martinis are $4 during happy hour.
Top of Waikiki - Street View
Once we finished our martinis, we went to my new favorite spot in Waikiki - Rum Fire (separate review to follow).  Rum Fire is a restaurant at the bottom of the Sheraton Waikiki.  It's right on the water, tiki torches are lit all around, and they have $3 beer during late night happy hour.  However, this time, we started drinking Kettle One on the rocks.  This is the part of the night where things begin getting fuzzy.

Yep, it really looks like this
After one or two drinks at Rum Fire, the guys wanted to go to a club.  Now, for those that don't know me all that well, I hate clubs more than I hate museums, confused Asians who can't drive, and bananas.  As a general rule, if I make a conscious choice to hang out with you, I probably like you.  This means I find your conversation stimulating or you are an attractive woman who likely makes people jealous when I am with you.  If you have both of these qualities, you are probably high on my list of friends.  If we are hanging out, therefore, I want to be able to have a conversation with you or be engaged in some activity where I am entertained.  Clubs do not provide the opportunity for either.  Clubs are too loud to talk.  Clubs don't have places for me to sit.  I am a shitty dancer.  I think guys who go to clubs just look stupid trying to awkwardly hit on women without being able to talk.  So when the guys I was with suggested going to a club, I was less than enthusiastic.  However, being the good sport that I am, I let Alan convince me that we would have fun if he ordered "bottle service."

What's bottle service?  It's where we got a full bottle of Kettle One vodka, unlimited mixers, and a private corner booth in the club.  I don't remember the name of the club, but having bottle service definitely made the night more tolerable.  Of course, it might have had something to do with the fact that I didn't spend a dime the entire night.  So that was my Saturday.

UPDATE (1/25/11) - The name of the Club was Crazy Box, located at the Edition Hotel

Sunday a group of people from work went to my co-worker's pool side Cabana and watched football and grilled all day.  My co-worker "Joe" is the one I usually go surfing with.  His apartment is awesome.  One of the reasons is that on the 7th floor, there is a pool deck with 5 individual cabanas.  Each cabana has a cable hookup, grill, ice chest, and tables/chairs.  We brought down his flat screen TV, everybody brought food, and we just ate, watched football, and hung out by the pool.

The celebration didn't stop there, though.  My judge is a huge Green Bay Packers fan.  Yes, for all my Chicago readers, I'm sorry you had to read that.  However, his being a Packer fan has directly benefited me.  When they beat the Eagles, he gave us a half-day from work.  When they beat the Falcons, he took us to lunch.  When they beat the Bears, he brought in cheese danish, bagels, and ham & cheese croissants AND gave us a half-day.  We're predicting new cars if the Packers win the Super Bowl.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Headnote of the Week

I found out this week why I have so many family law cases.  It's not really complicated, but without knowing the context of the courts, it's difficult to explain.  Basically, each judge has about 50-80 cases at a given time (remember, 5 judges on the Intermediate Court of Appeals means the Court has anywhere from 300-400 cases at a given time...all the time).  Anyway, there was some shifting among the judges because one judge on the ICA was nominated/confirmed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, another judge moved into the Chief Judge's role on the ICA, and new judges were nominated/confirmed to sit on the ICA.

Now, when all that happened, the former Chief Judge (who went to the Supreme Court) did not finish all his cases.  As I've bitched about a dozen times explained before, family law cases suck.  No one wants to work on them.  Anyway, since the former Chief Judge didn't finish all his family law cases, the new judges to the Court got stuck with them.  This means that our entire docket sheet right now is filled with backlogged family law cases.  I worked on a case recently that has been sitting here since 2006!

Since my eyes have been going numb over facebook, gchat, and planning vacations family law cases, today's headnote makes perfect sense.  Also, it should make sense to anyone who has ever been divorced.  Remember, these headnotes are quotes from real cases:

Just and equitable division of property in divorce action is just as likely not to be equal.
Root v. Root, 65 P.3d 41 (Wyo. 2003)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Week 1 Triathlon Training

The only word that really describes training for a triathlon is: "sucks."  My legs hurt, my feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, and I'm tired. I started on Monday, January 10 - last week - and I quickly learned how out of shape I am.  Sure, I can run.  I can swim (sort of).  I can even pedal a stupid bike.  However, doing those things for long periods of time or even doing two of them back to back is a challenge that leaves me dropping to the floor.

The first week went like this:

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 40 minute run + weight training
Wednesday - 24 minute swim/48 minute bike
Thursday - Off
Friday - 24 minute run
Saturday - 35 minute swim + weight training
Sunday - 30 minute swim/80 minute bike

Now, to be fair, my swimming is not for 30 minutes straight, but I don't get out of the water until I actually swim a complete 30 minutes.  It's also not too dreadful because when I get out of the water, I sit on the beach for a little while (my swim training is in the ocean).  The training schedule only gets more intense from here, so I'll be sure to update the blog weekly with the progress.  All I can say is I better finish in the top 10 of this thing!

S.W.A.T. Gun Club

As you walk through Waikiki, you'll notice it has something very similar to Vegas.  Old, creepy looking people passing out fliers directing you to a sketchy back alley establishment.  Now, in Vegas, those fliers inform you that a young woman can be sent to your hotel room as soon as you dial the 800-number.  In Waikiki, the directions on the flier take you to one of about a half dozen indoor gun ranges.

Apparently, the Japanese don't have guns.  I asked a friend why there were so many gun ranges in town and that's what I was told.  I did a little research on this and it turns out he was correct - sort of. The only type of firearm which a Japanese citizen may even contemplate acquiring is a shotgun. Sportsmen are permitted to possess shotguns for hunting and for skeet and trap shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure/ Without a license, a person may not even hold a gun in his or her hands.

Anyway, last week I went to one of the shooting ranges - the SWAT Gun Club.  Now, if you like shooting guns or have gone hunting or are even somewhat familiar with shooting ranges, then I'd advise you to stay away.  First of all, they don't let you rent a gun, buy some ammo and targets, and have at it.  It's all designed around tourism, which makes it 1) too expensive and 2) pre-determined.  You walk in, and you can choose from one of several "courses" that increase in price with the size and number of guns you're permitted to shoot.  Course A, for example, is $35 ($24.50 w/internet coupon) and gives the shooter 3 guns with one round of ammo each.  You get to shoot a .22 caliber Ruger rifle, a .22 caliber Ruger pistol, and a .22 caliber pistol (total 32 shots).  So, in reality, you're paying about $1 a bullet.  Once you're in the range, there is a person there with you at all times who can help you if a gun jams or you have any questions.  The guns themselves are chained to the booth where you're shooting so that there is no risk of a confused Japanese tourist turning around and shooting something by accident, which I am very thankful for.

.22 caliber revolver
.22 caliber Ruger pistol
.22 caliber Ruger rifle
Although shooting guns is a fun and entertaining sport/hobby, I don't think you need to go to Hawai'i to do it.  Most God-loving states in this wonderful country haven't let Obama crush the 2nd Amendment yet just hand people guns and say "have fun."  If you're really interested in shooting, though, then I recommend places outside of Waikiki - such as OGC Tactical (1507 S. King St) or Magnum Police Equipment (940 Queen Street).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Headnote of the Week

This week's headnote is topically relevant to something near and dear to my heart: the sad state of the American legal profession.  Specifically, the abysmal record of law schools scamming students into paying astronomical tuition rates, allowing them to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, with no real way to pay them back. Plenty of articles have been written about the fact that there are essentially no standards in place to force law schools to be accountable for their employment statistics.  In other words, students go to law school with dreams of making the "big bucks" and yet they are going to law schools that offer basically no hope of getting one of these dream jobs. Anyway, it has been suggested that law schools owe a duty of full disclosure to tell prospective students exactly what they're getting into before they sign up for 3 years and $120,000+ in student loans.  The New York Times wrote an amazing article the other day that touches on something anyone familiar with lawyers or law students already knows: law students are getting themselves into serious debt problems, with no plan for how to pay the debts back. The New York Times article profiles a number of recent graduates who are looking at a difficult legal employment environment. You can read the entire article here (and I recommend that you do because mark my words, student loans will be the next big bailout).  It has gotten so bad, in fact, that there have been many efforts to force law schools to disclose their actual employment statistics.  Not just "x number of students are employed/unemployed."  See, right now, schools count as "employed" anyone with a job, even if non-law related. Yep, that's right, to pad their numbers, they count as employed their former students who are nannies or mcdonald's managers. Spear-heading this effort is Law School Transparency.

But good luck. So far, only one school has agreed to comply with the request to release their information.  And today's Headnote of the Week may explain why:

Under Ohio law, law school did not owe its students a duty of good faith and fair dealing.
Valente v. University of Dayton, 689 F. Supp. 2d 910 (S.D. Ohio 2010)

Pali Golf Course

As I mentioned before, I brought my golf clubs back with me when I returned from vacation.  I figured if I am going to live in a place where I can play golf year 'round, I might as well take full advantage.  Hawaii is also one of the best places to play golf if you're a resident.  While tourists and guests pay anywhere from $40-$140 per round, I played golf at an amazing County-operated course (Pali Golf Course) for $8 on Friday afternoon. Located at the foot of the lush Koolau Mountains, the par-72 (par 74 for women) layout of the Pali Golf Course is outstanding.

To be fair, I played at 3:00, which meant that we paid the twilight rate and could play as many holes as we could fit in before dark.  I think a normal 18-hole round is around $20.  Those prices are also only for residents.  That's right, the completely (in my opinion) unconstitutional Kama'aina Discount works on most Hawaii golf courses here.  It drastically reduces the price of greens fees and makes it a phenomenal deal to play anytime you want.  If you are a non-resident, it costs $40 for a normal 18-hole round ($15 more for a cart) and around $21 for twilight (no carts, must walk).

It's hard to describe the golf course in great detail, but my avid readers will remember that Pali means "cliff."  They may also remember the famous Pali Lookout where Kamehameha through some people off the cliffs.  The Pali golf course is located right at the base of the mountains and is maybe a 25 minute drive from Waikiki.  Here's my review of the place:  if you're just visiting for a few days and you want to play golf, there are much nicer courses.  The Pali golf course is a municipal course operated by the State of Hawaii.  In other words, you get what you pay for.  The greens were in decent shape (no divets all over the place or even too many ball marks), but a little inconsistent, which made gauging them difficult (or, I am making excuses for my abysmal front 9).  The course itself is laid out beautifully.  It is mostly straight and narrow with trees lined along all the fairways.  The biggest problem was the fairways.  The grass in the middle of the fairway was long and not well kept.  It was like playing in the short rough most of the day.  Despite the course's flaws, it is still one of the most gorgeous scenic courses I've played.  There is not a lot to the course itself (i.e. no waterfalls or gazebos), but the mountains surround every hole and as you approach hole 8, you tee off facing the ocean.

Golfers may want to know the following statistics: 72 par | 6,524 yards | 126 slope | 70.4 rating | Bermuda grass.  There is no driving range, but there is a putting green.  They have a bar and restaurant at the club house and the automated tee time number for this course is (808) 296-2000.  The way to get there is to take H-1 West, take the Pali Highway, and follow that all the way toward Kailua.  When you reach the traffic light at the end of the highway, you'll see a sign for Kaneohe.  Follow that sign (take a left turn) and the course is on the left.  It's literally like 3-4 turns from Waikiki.

Uncle's Fish Market & Grill

The other day I went to visit a couple friends who work at Uncle's Fish Market & Grill (1135 North Nimitz Highway - see map here).  I didn't know it at the time, but I had actually already been there.  When my mom was here visiting, we went for dinner.  This time around, though, I had the opportunity to really take stock of where I was, what I've tried at other restaurants, and truly assess the quality of this place.  Uncle's Fish Market is across from the Ala Moana Beach right along the Ala Moana harbor.  It's where all the fishing boats are docked, in between Waikiki and Chinatown on Ala Moana Blvd.  As you drive by, there is a big sign at the entrance alerting you to different restaurants, all of which have some form of "seafood" or "fish" in the title.  It seems only logical to find fresh fish at these place considering their location.

Inside Uncle's Fish Market & Grill
I have to say that very rarely am I as disappointed as I was with Uncle's.  First of all, the ambiance is nice.  It's a pretty quiet place where you can sit inside at the bar and either talk to the bartender or just relax.  They have only one TV inside and it's kind of difficult to watch from the bar.  You can go there for takeout or dine-in.  They only serve seafood, but they have every kind of seafood you can imagine.  So I sat at the bar for a couple hours just talking with some friends before deciding to order. My roommates actually came up and joined me for appetizers before they headed to some other bar.  We tried the fried calamari, which was pretty amazing.  It comes on a bed of french fries and offers a healthy portion of calamari chunks.  It wasn't chewy at all, which usually is why I don't eat it.  Followed by that,  I had the Parmesean crusted MahiMahi.  Again, it was good.  For the price, though, it was definitely not worth it.  In fact, I found that to be the case with almost everything on the menu.  The prices are ridiculously high (especially given the restaurant's location) and the portions are ridiculously small.  We're talking about $20 for a small piece of fish and french fries.  This is not a fancy restaurant where you get vegetables, bread, and 5-star waiters.  Someone else ordered the seafood pasta.  This IS worth getting.  There was a ton of different seafood options in a big bowl of marinara sauce and a side of pasta.  It was awesome.  I was also told that the fish and chips are amazing.

Fish and Chips
So if you're in the mood for seafood and you don't want to go out for a 5-star dining experience in Waikiki, then Uncle's is a solid bet.  The food is delicious, but be prepared to pay far more than you're getting.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pearl - Ala Moana Center

I feel I've been letting my devoted readers down.  First, I went on a 10-day hiatus while I was celebrating the holidays back home. Second, now that I'm back, I have been lazy and haven't written anything.  I suppose it will just take some time to get back into the swing of things.  I will start with a restaurant review.  Last night a friend of mine (sort of, she is actually friends with my roommate, but I have met her and hung out with her a few times) had her birthday.  She decided to get everybody together for drinks and appetizers at a swanky club called Pearl (1450 Ala Moana Boulevard - see map here)  It's located in the Ala Moana Shopping Center, which is a HUGE outdoor mall.  The shopping center/mall is actually really nice.  The layout of the mall, however, is a complete nightmare.  It's not your typical mall with a couple stories laid out in a square.  No, leave it to the Hawaiians to screw up a mall.  I have been to this place 3 times now and I have gotten lost every single time.  In order to get there, you have to walk through weird underground parking garages.  Then, once you're in, corridors and walkways just randomly end without notice or change floors randomly or are cut off by escalators.  There is a fourth floor that can only be accessed on one side of this mega mall.  It's a nightmare trying to find something specific.

That brings me to Pearl.  Pearl is classified on the mall directory as a nightclub.  Let me just say I hate nightclubs more than I hate museums.  So the plan was to go for a drink and then head home.  I search for this stupid place for like a half an hour before finally finding that you have to walk down a weird alley with no stores and just guard rails in order to find it.  It is actually on the top level of one of the parking garages.  If you're having trouble picturing it, that's normal.  I have been there and still can't picture it.  Anyway, I finally get inside and it's not really a nightclub at all (at 7pm, anyway).  I would call it more of a lounge (similar to Indigo in Chinatown).  Attention Martini Lovers: they have $5 happy hour martinis that are pretty good.  Happy hour is from 4-8pm and all their appetizers are also $5.  You can also get beer for $3.  The food was pretty good.  I had the tropical shrimp (Crispy fried coconut crusted shrimp served with a spicy pineapple relish) and they were delicious.  I tried someone else's stuffed mushrooms (filled with crab meat and vegetables baked with parmesan cheese) and they, too, were delicious.  The service was decent, but not great.  We had a big group and we were the only ones in the place and people still had to search around to get refills on drinks.

The place was a great happy hour spot and I would recommend checking it out if you're walking around the mall doing some shopping.  Otherwise, there's no real reason you should make a special trip.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aaaand we're back!

I just got back from vacation, which is a little weird to consider that I left 80-degree weather and the Hawaiian Islands for "vacation."  Alas, it was great to visit with family and friends and yes, even spend time in the snow.  The next couple months are sure to be filled with interesting and exciting Hawaii-related posts.  I just got tickets to the NFL Pro Bowl, I have a couple hikes planned, I brought my golf clubs back with me, I am competing in the Lanikai Triathlon in April, and the pineapples sitting on my porch are getting bigger.

Also, Happy New Year!  I don't know about you, but my 2010 was a time of tremendous change and excitement.  I graduated law school, moved to Hawaii, took (and passed) the bar, and officially became a lawyer...all in just the second half of the year.  I really don't have any new year's resolutions for 2011, though.  Perhaps I'll come up with some, but all the things I'd like to accomplish or do this year were decided already.  You can see them on my list of things I want to do before leaving, which is on the right-hand side of the screen.  What about you, devoted reader? Any new year's resolutions you'd like to share?