Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kobe Steak

As I mentioned before, Hy's Steak House is the best steakhouse I have ever been to.  Kobe Steak (1841 Ala Moana Boulevard Honolulu, HI 96815 - map here) doesn't do anything to challenge that claim.

If you've ever been to Benihana, then you're familiar with Kobe Steak.  It's a Japanese style steakhouse where they cook the food on a grill in front of you.  The food itself was fine, but nothing spectacular.  The chef was pleasant enough, but even his performance was more like that of a lethargic mime than a dinner show entertainer. We ordered a drink - on the rocks - and actually had to double check to see whether they forgot to pour the alcohol.

I think my biggest problem with the place was the value - or lack thereof.  I recognize that these types of restaurants overcharge because you're getting a show with your meal.  However, this place takes the cake with overpricing.  They take full advantage of being next to the Ilikai Hotel's tourists, being in Waikiki, and being a Hibachi-style restaurant.  The average price for this disappointing restaurant only adds insult to injury.  So in the end, if you are in the mood for this type of restaurant, wait until you go home, or try the Benihana in the ala moana shopping center.  But whatever you do, avoid this place.

Oral Arguments

I really hate bad-mouthing Hawai'i and its legal profession.  I truly look for lawyers here that I can compliment and say that they're not an embarrassment to the profession or should be disbarred for their incompetence.  I have a few theories on why the quality of legal services here in Hawai'i is below average, but perhaps I'll save that for a different day.  Today, I want to talk about something I saw yesterday.  I wish I recorded it's going to be hard to visualize.

Yesterday the Intermediate Court of Appeals held oral arguments for two cases at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law.  The ICA normally holds oral arguments at the Supreme Court courtroom, but every once in a while it's held at UH to give law students the opportunity to get free lunch see attorneys argue an appellate case.  Afterwards there is a Q & A where students can ask the judges and law clerks questions about their jobs.  It's also a way for students to start thinking about clerking after law school.  Of the 12 clerks at the ICA only 3 are non-UH law graduates.

Anyway, yesterday involved two cases.  The first dealt with a fairly interesting search and seizure case involving the exclusionary rule and the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.  The case was really well-argued on both sides of the case, which made it both enjoyable and interesting to watch.  I thought the attorneys were well-prepared, articulate, and made well-reasoned arguments.

That's not the case I want to talk about.  No, the case that the world needs to know about is the second one. First of all, it was a traffic case about the calibration of a radar gun.  In Hawai'i you can be arrested for "excessive speeding."  It is a crime.  From the beginning this argument was a nightmare and a circus.  The Appellant's attorney (i.e. the defendant lost in the lower court and is appealing) was absolutely the worst attorney I have ever seen.  His behavior was inappropriate and disrespectful and completely undermined the legitimacy of the court (well, as much legitimacy as there can be when you listen to traffic cases...but stick with me).  His behavior (and argument) was so bad that it was laughable.  I feel the need to bring this up as a warning to any future (or current) lawyers who may do some of these things.

First, he drifted off topic several times and started "lecturing" rather than "arguing."  An oral argument should generally go like this:  brief summary of facts, point of error one, argument; point of error two, argument; etc.  During this time the judges will barrage the attorney with questions challenging the arguments.  This guy omitted the facts altogether (not terribly important as the judges read the briefs), but when asked the first question, the attorney literally said, "judge, I don't want to answer that, or go into that, because that point hurts my case. I want to talk about this grave injustice."  The attorney then turned around to the audience (i.e. turned his back on the judges) and started lecturing the audience.  He said, "see, this is what happens when you're caught speeding, you have to come up here and answer tough questions. don't speed."  He turned his back on the judges AT LEAST 3 times to address the audience.  At one point, he used the edge of the counsel's table to demonstrate "a cliff" that you fall off when you speed and then told the audience that they should never plead guilty unless they want "ridiculous" and "unjust" minimum penalties.

Second, he objected during the other side's argument.  For anyone not familiar with appellate arguments, you can't do that.  You can't say anything when the other side is speaking.  Both sides get 30 minutes.  When your time is up, you remain silent.

Third, when the other side made their argument, this guy banged his head on the table.

I wish I could recount more accurately the specific things this guy said, but suffice to say there were several times the judges themselves were laughing.  In my opinion, the lawyer should be sanctioned.  However, the judges never gave him a warning or tried to reign him in, so it's hard to sanction someone without putting them on notice.

That is sort of my point, though.  What kind of message are the judges sending to attorneys when they let them get away with this sort of spectacle?  In front of a room of future lawyers, the judges sent the message that it's okay to be unprepared.  It's okay to disrespect the court.  It's okay to interrupt the other side.  It's okay to not make a coherent argument.  In short, their silence made it okay for this guy to provide bad representation to a client.  I'm sure the judges didn't want to embarrass the lawyer.  In fact, afterwards one of the audience members remarked that they felt sorry for the lawyer because he clearly had no idea what he was doing.  My immediate reaction was that we should feel sorry for the client!  Someone paid this guy to represent him in court.  It looked like the lawyer was having a great time giving his lecture and making his gestures and making absurd comments, but at the end of the day someone needs to remember that this guy represented someone accused of a crime.  Someone's life, and criminal history, was in this guy's hands.  What are we saying, as a profession, when we fail to prevent people like this from becoming a practicing attorney?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Back At It

As some people have pointed out to me, my last triathlon post was several weeks ago.  No, I did not forget to post.  I stopped working out.  Why? Let me tell you.

Moving to a new city is difficult.  Moving to a new state is even more difficult.  Selling all of your belongings, packing your few remaining possessions into storage boxes and suitcases and moving across the Pacific Ocean is an entirely different level of difficulty.  I am a firm believer in radical change and I appreciate the need to experience all of life's many adventures.  I am truly afraid of waking up one day and realizing that I never did anything of note, never saw anything spectacular, and never undertook any uncomfortable endeavors.  That being said, it is still challenging.  Having lived in England, the Dominican Republic, and a number of other U.S. cities, I find that there are a few ways to make the transition slightly easier: (1) join a team sport; (2) find roommates; and (3) develop a routine.

Now, please forgive the analogy, but I am about to compare living in Hawaii to living in prison.  It's all about routine and survival.  I have not personally been to prison, but I watch a lot of MSNBC and I am under the impression that the key to doing one's time is getting into a routine.  In Hawaii, it's very similar.  Survival is not so much about ass raping as it is dodging all the asian female drivers, but my point remains the same.  When that routine is disrupted, it becomes difficult to survive.  Training for a triathlon equally requires a routine.  Unfortunately, when people visit, it becomes difficult to follow that routine.  You go out to eat instead of cooking dinner.  You come home from work and entertain people rather than going to the gym and working out.  On weekends you don't have the opportunity to do laundry, go to the grocery store, run errands, or train for a triathlon because you have to play host.

Don't get me wrong, I love having visitors.  They are an important part of "doing one's time."  As a result, I continue to encourage friends and relatives to visit.  In fact, the last month and a half I have had 4 visitors.  I look forward to having more people visit in the future.  Having visitors forced me to explore different parts of the island, try new restaurants, and enjoy the Hawaiian outdoors.  As you can imagine, though, having four visitors over five weeks has also not been conducive to a rigorous triathlon-training schedule.  Unfortunately, entertaining visitors means that training has to take a backseat.  Well, to all my devoted readers, have no fear.  I am back at it.  I have gone back to the gym the last two days and am training for the triathlon once more.  The triathlon is April 17.  I have 19 days.  The last two days have proven that my month-long "detour" has left me DREADFULLY out of shape, but I am back.  I no longer hope to finish in the top 25 or so, but I should be able to complete the triathlon without stopping.  So that is the new goal: finish without stopping.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kayaking the Wailua River - Kaua'i

This weekend I went to Kaua'i.  Kaua'i is the northernmost island of the Hawaiian Islands and is where many movies - Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, etc. - were filmed.  I've been to Kaua'i before and hiked the Na Pali Coast, but didn't really think there was much appeal to the island itself.  Sure, there is pretty scenery, but we have pretty scenery on O'ahu, so why would I need to go somewhere else?  I still have that opinion, but this weekend we did something pretty cool.  We kayaked the Wailua River en route to hiking to the "secret falls."

Wailua River is a long, slowly meadering river that starts at the Wai'ale'ale Crater and is fed by several tributaries on the way to the ocean. This is the only navigable river in all of Hawaii.  Several forks in the river lead to waterfalls and can be easily explored by kayak.  We ended up going with a guide so we didn't have to worry about getting lost or leaving the kayaks unattended.  We found a great deal with Kayak Wailua for $42 per person with the kayak rental, guide, tax, and gratuity included.  You need to call to make a reservation, and they were really helpful with getting us set up.  I recommend getting a reservation for noon as that is the least crowded time.  Our group was only 6 people and when we got to the waterfall, there was hardly anyone around.  We landed on the island at 6:30am and were able to call and make our noon reservation for the same day.

Anyway, when we landed, we still had about 5 hours before we had to show up for the kayaking tour.  So we killed some time at the Kaua'i Coffee Company, checked into our hotel (more on that later), and got some breakfast at an awesome diner in town.  When we showed up at the Kayak place, they gave us dry bags for all our belongings as well as a cooler so we could bring our own lunch to picnic at the waterfall.  The kayak portion of the trip is 2.5 miles each way, followed by a 1 mile hike to the waterfall.  The river is really calm and peaceful and was definitely my favorite part of our trip as well as my favorite thing to do on Kaua'i.  It was just a lot of fun and really relaxing (even if kayaking does require some exertion).  It was definitely easier than kayaking to the mokolua islands in lanikai.

On the river itself, kayakers are given their own "lane" on the right side of the river. To see the Secret Falls, take the right fork in the river, about 35 minutes from the mouth. A few minutes later you come to an island. Dock on the right side and follow the trail to this secluded waterfall.  If you're interested in doing the guided tour, which I highly recommend, I suggest going with "Kayak Wailua:"

4565 Haleilio Road
KAPAA, HI 96746
(808) 822-3388

Bluewater Grill

I am obsessed with deals and airline miles.  Last week, I discovered that you can make reservations at various restaurants through and earn 60 miles just for doing so.  Then I discovered that Bluewater Grill (in Hawaii Kai - 377 Keahole St, Honolulu, HI 96825 - map here) was one such place.  It just so happened that I also had a Groupon for Bluewater Grill where I got 50% off my bill.  Put those two things together and it is a recipe for making me a very happy person.

So we went to Bluewater Grill for dinner and found the atmosphere to be gorgeous.  It's right on Kuapa Pond with Koko Head in the background.  There is outdoor seating and live music every night.  The music is quiet and mellow and is the perfect live music to listen to during dinner while eating right on the water.  The restaurant itself is a relative newcomer to the restaurant scene in Hawaii Kai and is right next to a very established and popular "Roy's."  However, if it keeps promoting itself with things like Groupon, I expect it to do very well.  What may also save them from the fate of others who essentially try to compete with Roy's is that they are open for lunch.  The food was delicious and reasonably priced.  Actually, they overcooked one of our fish, making it almost chewy, but the  appetizers and the other fish were amazing.  They also have a decent happy how where beers are $3.  

 The menu is ambitious and described as "global island." There was some discussion at the table as to what exactly that means; are the dishes and ingredients specific to islands or does it refer to dishes with "global" inspiration prepared in an island-style? We didn't come up with an answer.  The waiter we had was very pleasant, knew the menu well, and was very attentive.  Overall it was a great experience with a perfect ambience for dinner.  If you're in Hawaii Kai, or looking for some good seafood on the East side of the island, give this place a try.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crime Cameras Going Up On O'ahu

Don't look now, but Big Brother is coming to a paradise near you.  Camera-based crime-fighting is coming to high-crime areas on O'ahu in the next few months.  In a news conference tomorrow, the Honolulu Police Department is going to announce the start of Proj­ect PUEO ("Policing Using Electronic Observation").  The cameras are going to be placed in strategically located areas of federally designated "Weed and Seed" sites in Ewa, Wai­pahu and Kalihi/Palama/Chinatown.  Weed and Seed is a community-based strategy sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") that aims to prevent, control, and reduce violent crime, drug abuse, and gang activity in designated high-crime neighborhoods across the country.  The camera initiative in Hawai'i is aimed at deterring graffiti, illegal drinking and drugs, and illegal dumping in the "Weed and Seed" areas by monitoring and recording crimes in those areas.

I am conflicted by this news.  On one hand, if a person breaks the law, I advocate harsh and retributive justice consequences.  On the other hand, the level of government involvement in our daily lives is already absolutely ridiculous. It has gotten to the point where the police can stop you for anything they damn well please based on "anonymous tips" or police-defined "suspicious activity."  We already have traffic cameras to catch people who run red lights or exceed the speed limit with no evidence that these devices have reduced violators.  There IS evidence that there has been an increase in rear-end collisions AND increased revenue for the State.

My problem with camera-based law enforcement is the obvious risks to privacy. True, you don't have a right to privacy when you are outside or in a public place.  However, it bothers me that the government creates (largely) arbitrary laws, then places "strategic" cameras in poor, minority communities high crime areas in order to catch people "committing crimes."  On top of that, the police will be recording the activity.  How can we be sure that the subsequent footage is not going to be used to extort "criminals" into snitching on their neighbors' more illicit criminal activity that occurs in non-public areas?

I can't help but think this is the next step in a long line of oppressive government practices used to infringe on individual freedom.  This is something out of 1950s McCarthyism or Cold War-era Soviet Russia.  Make no mistake, this is the government spying on its own citizens under the guise of "crime prevention."  These cameras are meant to, among other things, "deter gang activity."  Don't forget that being in a gang is not, by itself, a crime.  Americans have a First Amendment right to associate and peaceably assemble.  What if the police, using these cameras, see a group of men hanging out in a park drinking from paper bags and decide to "investigate?"  The police roll up, ask some "general probing questions" and decide that these guys are about to rob a store or vandalize a car or whatever bullshit the cops invent?  With nothing more than camera footage of legal, but suspicious activity and subsequent harassment by the police (i.e. investigative questions), the police can hold these guys and possibly arrest them.

This isn't the only place where oppressive government security is being implemented.  In Ogden, Utah (and 20 other U.S. cities), the police are setting up a "real time crime center" to be operational soon after its Crime Blimp launches (not kidding). The center hopes to eventually be linked with the "thousands of private and government security cameras around town, including the city's own inventory of some 200 cameras." Planned at 52 feet long and 4 feet in diameter to hold a 20-pound payload of cameras, GPS gear, and telemetry, the blimp in Utah (set to be launched in April) will likely patrol the skies of an American city.

I have no doubt the police will be able to arrest people as a result of these cameras.  However, chances are the crimes for which people will be arrested are going to be petty misdemeanors.  This means no jail time, just fines.  In reality, these cameras will be used to harass minority communities and generate fine-based revenue for the State.  And they'll erode civil liberties while they do it.  I don't like it one bit.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Byodo-In Temple

After seeing the sunrise at the Makapu'u Lighthouse on Saturday morning, we went over to Kailua and got breakfast at Cinnamon's again.  Again, it didn't disappoint.  This time was even better, though, because we didn't wait forever.  In fact, we didn't wait at all.  We got there at about 8:30am and were seated right away.  Since we had already been awake from more than 4 hours and none of us had eaten anything yet, we feasted like Kings and Queens.  We ordered the red velvet pancakes (of course), eggs benedict, the baja breakfast, and eggs and bacon.  I am also pretty sure we finished our own pot of coffee since we were all exhausted.  After breakfast, we spent a few hours lounging around and snorkeling at Lanikai where the sand feels like flour.

See what I mean? They tease you with pictures like this
After spending some time at the beach, though, we decided to venture over to the over-hyped Valley of the Temples. Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is a memorial park located on the Windward (eastern) side of the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu. It is a vast area of lush, rolling green hills at the foot of the Koʻolau mountains, overlooking the sleepy town of Kāneʻohe. Thousands of Buddhist, Shinto, Protestant and Catholic residents of Hawaiʻi are buried in this memorial park.

In guide books, this place is described as a peaceful spot located off the beaten path.  To some extent, that's an accurate description.  The Valley of the Temples is located far from Waikiki and other tourist hot spots, but the famous Byodo-In Temple has become even more popular among tourists ever since it was featured in an episode of ABC's television show LOST. The temple was established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The temple is built entirely without nails. It is a scale replica of a temple in Uji, Japan, that was constructed over 950 years ago. The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty. The temple grounds are often used for wedding ceremonies for Hawaiians or visitors from Japan.

Inside the Temple.  You can light an incense at his feet
I wanted to visit this place ever since I saw a picture and found out it was constructed entirely without nails.  I thought that was pretty cool.  It also looked huge from the pictures and also appeared to be located in a secluded area of the mountains that might require even a little hiking.  Instead, it's right next to a big parking lot where there are a few tour buses and a little shack that charges $3 to walk on the grounds.  Don't get me wrong, the grounds of the temple are gorgeous.  But there is only one small room that visitors may enter (and can light an incense for prayer if you want).  There is also a giant bell that visitors are told to ring prior to entering as an appreciation for the gods.  Basically, this turns into everyone standing around in a line waiting to take pictures.

From the back
As you can probably tell from my tone, I think this place is overrated.  That being said, you should probably go.  I hate to say it, but it's pretty cool, the grounds are pretty, and it's only $3.  It's an area of O'ahu that not many people venture to and if you're in Kailua/Lanikai, it's only about a 10-12 minute drive away.  So go ahead and take some pictures and then just tell everyone back home that some Japanese monks invited you to their holy temple to pray with them (or something else interesting and creative).

Sam Choy's: Breakfast, Lunch and Crab

I had always heard of Sam Choy's, but until yesterday had never been there.  I went to the one located on Ala Moana Blvd (580 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96817 - map here).  On Sunday they have an all-you-can-eat buffet for $19.95 that is from 9am-2pm.  The other restaurant is near Diamond Head just at the end of Waikiki.  The one I went to is located in Honolulu’s busy industrial district of Iwilei.  Sam Choy’s is a family style, casual restaurant that features huge portions of local favorites for breakfast and lunch. Dinner showcases a variety of fresh crab, lobster and shellfish, steaks, ribs, and chicken.  We went for lunch.  Three of us had the buffet and one person had the Shrimp and Scallop scampi.

The buffet had an omelette bar, short rib carving station, french toast, waffles, portuguese sausage, bacon, corned beef hash, sticky and fried rice, panka-crusted swordfish, squid soup, and some other stuff I can't remember.  All the food was good, but the best food was the sausage and french toast.  The swordfish was great and if you like fish, I would definitely recommend it.  The omelettes were also amazing.  In comparison to the shrimp and scallop scampi, though, the buffet was only "okay."  Everything in the buffet was good, but you could still tell it was from a buffet.  The shrimp/scallop scampi though was unbelievable.  There was so much garlic and butter flavor with pesto.  The shrimp and scallops were also incredibly fresh.  If I went back, I would definitely skip the buffet and order something directly from the menu.  The buffet was no really worth the price unless you went with a massive appetite and were prepared to eat a ton of "decent" (as opposed to incredible) food.

Now, if the cool, casual atmosphere with great food wasn't enough for you, then you can always come for the BEER!  I had no idea that this place was also a brewery.  They have a variety of beers that brewed right on the premises.  The beers are called "Big Aloha Brew." We tried the Big Aloha Lager and the Blonde Ale.  Both were good.  The lager surprised me with how light - both flavor and color - it was.  Neither beer was particularly "distinct," but both had nice flavors.  There are plenty of better places to get good beer on the island, but Sam Choy's has a unique "Hawaiian" ambiance that makes it worth a try.

That said, if you find yourself looking for a good spot to grab some food, try Sam Choy's.  Sam Choy, by the way, is an award-winning restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author.  He is also a TV host who tries to educates people about the diverse cultures and flavors that culminate in Hawaii.

Makapu'u and Sunrise

One of the hardest things to get used to after leaving law school is entering the work force.  Sure, you don't have homework and finals anymore, but you also have to be somewhere for 8+ hours a day, everyday.  You don't get to take multiple hour-long breaks whenever you want.  You don't get to skip work just because your boss is boring and the case you're working on won't be on the final.  Drinking until 3am on a Wednesday is no longer as socially appropriate as it used to be.  And you have to wake up early...every weekday morning.  You also can't stroll into work in your sweats for that 1pm meeting.  Nope, this is the real world.

Well, just because I'm used to waking up with the sun now doesn't mean that I was prepared for our 4am wake up call this Saturday morning.  While my roommates were undoubtedly still awake and drunk, I was waking up to go for a sunrise hike to the Makapu'u Lighthouse.  Makapuʻu Lighthouse is a 46-foot-tall, active United States Coast Guard lighthouse established in 1909.  Makapuʻu is the extreme eastern end of the Island of Oʻahu in the Hawaiian Islands, comprising the remnant of a ridge that rises 647 feet above the sea. The cliff at Makapuʻu Point forms the eastern tip and is the site of a prominent lighthouse. The place name of this area, meaning "bulging eye" in Hawaiian, is thought to derive from the name of an image said to have been located in a cave here called Keanaokeakuapōloli. You'll remember that the last time I hiked the Makapu'u trail, I quit after doing the Dragon's Nostril's hike because I didn't have water and felt like I was going to die.  This time, I am pretty sure I was still asleep when I made it to the lighthouse.

4am was well worth the view
I did, however, discover that driving in Honolulu is not nearly as dreadful when people aren't on the road, which, at 4:30am, they are not.  So we woke up, drove over to Makapu'u on the Windward side of the island...past Hawaii Kai and Hanauma Bay and Halona Blowhole.  When we got there the parking lot was still closed (it doesn't open until 7am).  So we parked up the street at the scenic point just beyond the parking lot and walked down.  The trail to Makapu'u Lighthouse is full paved and only takes about 20-25 minutes to reach the top, so it is VERY easy.  It's more of an uphill walk than a hike.  Nonetheless, we got to the top and watched the sunrise.  If you're looking for a cool story and some very pretty scenery, I definitely recommend finding the energy to wake up that early.  The view at sunrise from Makapu'u is regularly called a Hawaii "best bet" in all the magazines and guide books.

Sunrise at Makapu'u
Just take H-1 East and follow it all the way around the coast (you never have to turn).  The entrance to Makapu'u is across from the Hawaii Kai golf course.

View of the Other Side

Friday, March 18, 2011

Headnote of the Week

Location of a person's garbage, standing alone, does not establish whether a search of the garbage was reasonable; rather, the analysis must include an examination of whether the person manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the trash container and whether that expectation of privacy in the garbage is objectively reasonable.
State v. Fisher, 154 P.3d 455 (Kan. 2007)

St. Patrick's Day - Hawaii Style

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day.  As I've written about here and here, Hawaiians like to party.  They don't need a lot of excuses to drink in the streets, but when there is a legitimate reason, they run with it.  Naturally, as an Irishman, I was excited to celebrate my heritage.  Of course, by celebrate my heritage, I mean get excessively and inappropriately drunk while wearing shiny green attire.

Unfortunately, it all started poorly because I came to the block party straight from work.  Murphy's Bar & Grill hosted a huge block party with a dozen beer tents, four live bands, and bbq pits.  I walked over to meet some people, but alas, I wasn't wearing green.  It was cool to walk into the sea of green drunk people, but I stuck out like a sore thumb.  Nonetheless, I met up with some friends and drank some Guinness.  The night itself wasn't anything to write home about, but if you're ever in Hawaii for St. Patrick's Day, I highly recommend going to Murphy's block party.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

Every March, sports fans and non-sports fans alike participate in a tradition that brings everyone together.  March Madness Tournament Brackets.  This year I organized an office pool, along with people's significant others, in an effort to make this year's tournament a little more exciting.  I was surprised at the reception I received in trying to organize it.  There was a lot of interest, even though the entrance fee was $15.  Overall we got 15 people to enter the pool.

I've written before that I work in a room with 6 clerks.  Sometimes it can get a little loud and talkative making focus difficult.  Add to the mix that 5 of the 6 people in my room entered the pool and that's just a recipe for no work getting done.  All day today everyone has been watching the games/scores religiously.  Every once in a while someone will spontaneously and unexpectedly shout at their computer.  It's actually made it a pretty fun day.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cinnamon's Restaurant

Yes, I eat a lot.  However, this time I had an excuse to try a new friends are visiting from out of town.  On Saturday we decided to spend the day in Kailua/Lanikai hanging out on the beach and doing the Lanikai pillbox hike.  Before we got to the beach and pillbox hike, however, we stopped at Cinnamon's in Kailua (315 Uluniu Street, Kailua, HI 96734 - map here).  There is ample meter parking around.

You've heard about those "Mom & Pop" places? hole in the wall? gem of a find? Well, all of those are true in describing Cinnamon's. Friendly, outrageously good food, and so reasonably priced are also true attributes this humble, unassuming, family owned restaurant offers to their many loyal customers.  I had previously looked at their menu online and tried to go here once before, but there was a 45 minute wait and my guest didn't want to stand around that long.  This time, I was determined to go.  As a teaser, you can check out their menu here.  Everything on the menu looks amazing!

So this Saturday we got there around 10:45am.  We thought we'd go for a nice brunch before taking a hike and lounging on the beach.  We showed up and were greeted with a 45 minute wait again.  Undeterred, though, we decided to put our names down and walk around the town for a little while.  When we got back 45 minutes later, we were told that our group of 3 would be next.  At least four or five other groups went before we did (all the while being assured by the hostess that we would be next).  It actually got to a point that we were convinced they were seating people who arrived after we originally did.  Once we were finally seated after about an hour wait, things got better.

Red Velvet Pancakes
To apologize for our delay, they brought us out two fresh cinnamon rolls - macademia cinnamon roll and their signature cinnamon roll - and a plate of DELICIOUS red velvet pancakes covered in white chocolate sauce...all for free.  That put us in a much better mood!  It was clear they were sorry we had to wait forever, but also they clearly want their customers to enjoy themselves.  Together, we ordered the Hawaiian Omelette, Breakfast Meat and Eggs, and the Kalua Pig Eggs Benedict.  I almost want to recommend eating a small snack before going to this place because the wait for food was somewhat long.  It wasn't terrible, but if you're starving then it would be brutal.  Fortunately for us, we had just eaten delicious red velvet pancakes and cinnamon rolls, so we were happy.  Once the food arrived, everything was unbelievable.

I highly recommend going to Kailua and having breakfast at Cinnamon's.  You can easily spend the day in Kailua and Lanikai so try to make a day of it.  Have some breakfast, go kayaking, hike the pillbox, and lounge on the beach.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

One nice thing about visitors - no matter where you live - is that they encourage you to do "touristy things" or provide you with the motivation to do things you've "been meaning to do."  This week I have two friends in town from Chicago and over the weekend we hiked to the Lanikai Pillboxes.  I had been meaning to do this hike for a while and a number of people recommended it to me, but for some reason I just never made it up there.

Getting there wasn't difficult per se, but it wasn't easy, either.  From Waikiki, it only takes maybe 30 minutes to get here (if you take the Pali Hwy).  First of all, I discovered that everyone knows where the start to the trail head is, but no one can tell you how to get there.  When I asked directions, I was told multiple times, "it's next to the golf course."  Have you ever seen a golf course!?  It's not like, "oh, it's across from McDonald's."  Golf courses are huge and there are a lot of places that can be "across" from a golf course.  So let me explain in very simple terms how to get to the Lanikai Pillbox hike:  From the highway (rt 61) heading into Kailua, bear right when you get to the Shell Gas Station (on your left) onto Kailua road.  Note: Kailua road actually goes straight AND right.  You want to go right.  Continue along Kailua road until you come to a traffic light.  Turn left at the traffic light.  You are still on Kailua road.  Go to the end of the road and turn right onto Kalaheo Road.  You are now headed into the Lanikai Loop (where Mokolua Dr becomes Alapapa Rd).  At your first right on Alapapa Road, turn right onto Kaelepulu Dr.  Park anywhere along that road and the trail head entrance is directly across from the entrance to the Mid-Pacific Country Club parking lot.

The short hike up to the pillboxes (also known as Lanikai bunkers) on Ka'iwa Ridge offers one of the most breathtaking views of the windward side of the island. The hike itself is pretty easy.  It's uphill and there are loose rocks, but the view is definitely worth the hike.  The first part of the hike is steep and very slippery due to the dry dusty ground. There is nothing to hold onto other than tall grass and a few bushes, so it's probably a good idea to wear hiking shoes or be prepared to end up on your bum a couple of times on your way down. There is no shade on this hike until you reach the pillboxes so make sure to bring some water.  It took maybe 45 minutes to get to the top and about the same to get down.  I did not see too many older people on this hike, but it is not nearly as steep as Diamond Head or some of the more difficult (but popular) hikes in Honolulu.  I highly recommend this hike if you have a day to spend in Kailua/Lanikai.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mardis Gras - Hawaii Style

Nu'uanu Street in Downtown
Do we celebrate Mardis Gras in Hawaii? Absolutely!  Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. As I have written about before, the Hawaiians take any excuse they can to get drunk and party in the streets. Mardis Gras is no different. The "festivities" start first thing in the morning with a tradition I can completely get behind: Malasada Tuesday! At Leonard's Bakery, sales for malasadas are five times greater on Fat Tuesday than any other time of year. A malasada is a Portuguese confection. They were first made by inhabitants of Madeira Island (off the coast of Portugal). Malasadas are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. A popular variation is where they are hand dropped into the oil and people have to guess what they look like. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings.

Later on, Chinatown shuts down the streets, barricades everyone in, and the party begins. From 5:30pm to 10:30pm, the Arts District Merchants Association presented “Mardi Gras Carnival 2011."  The event, billed as “An International Celebration of Indulgence,” showcases authentic Mardi Gras - Carnival culture with unique and exciting food, music and dance from New Orleans, Brazil, Cuba. Live music went from 6pm to 10pm with bands featured on four performance stages spread out along Nu'uanu Avenue, Pauahi Street and Hotel Street.  Last year more than 10,000 people attended downtown Honolulu's Fat Tuesday celebration.

All in all it was a cool event. Everyone was running around in Mardis Gras masks and lots of women were running around in Burlesque outfits.  I would definitely not be surprised if there were more than 10,000 people this year.  It was packed.  I was surprised by the lack of alcohol.  I'm not suggesting that people weren't drunk.  They were.  I'm not suggesting alcohol wasn't served.  It was.  Compared to Octoberfest and Halloween, however, this was relatively tame.  At the other events it seemed like there was a beer or wine tent every few feet.  At Mardis Gras they just didn't have as many vendors.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Girls' Day

Today I walked into the kitchen at work and, unsurprisingly, there was food.  I was disappointed to see that it was not manapua.  Instead, there was a bag of fortune cookies (random, I know, but those asians love their fortunes I guess) and a big box of assorted brownies from Napolean's Bakery (note: Napolean's bakery is located at Zippy's and is delicious).  Anyway, hand-written on the box was "Happy Girls' Day!"

I didn't think much of the note and figured "girl's day" was similar to the "take your daughter to work day" that we used to have in middle school when hippie liberals people were trying to tell women they could be something other than barefoot and pregnant tied to a stove.  It wasn't until I went to lunch that girl's day came up again.  As I was standing in line to get a delicious steak wrap and fries from the corner deli, a creepy guy in front of me was handing out hershey's kisses to any girl who was standing around him saying "happy girl's day" in his nice raspy emphysema voice.  When he got to the front of the line to place his order, he had more hershey kisses for the girl's behind the counter.  Now I was intrigued.

First of all, let me just say that I was under the impression we already had a "girl's day."  You might know it by the name Valentine's Day.  You may have heard about it.  It's a day when every schmuck on earth goes out of his way to buy flowers, candy, and gifts before being forced to skip that evening's TV shows and get unnecessarily dressed up to take a woman to an above-average restaurant...all in the name of making her happy.  So although we had a Girl's Day two weeks ago, apparently they need another one.

This girl's day is a Chinese/Japanese tradition.  The 3rd of March is called "Hina-no-Sekku","Hina-Matsuri" (Doll's Festival) or "Momo-no-Sekku" (Peach blossom's Festival) and used to be one of the important seasonal events of ancient China.  Today it has become a function symbolic of Japanese arts and customs.  It has "been in existence in Japan since the Edo Period (17 - 19 centuries)."  The third day of the third month was a day of purification in the Shinto religion from ancient times. The use of dolls in the purification rites is mentioned in the Tale of Genji, written nearly a thousand years ago. Hina Matsuri has some of its roots in this festival of purification.

As part of the tradition, families with young daughters celebrate this event at home to ensure their daughter's future happiness. So how do they make sure their daughters will be happy in the future?  They decorate "hina-Ningyo" (special dolls which are replicas of an ancient emperor and empress and their subordinates).  That's right, the Japanese teach their daughters that the key to happiness is to be a princess and marry an emperor.  I'm surprised there aren't more Japenese people on Long Island...

Anyway, the Japanese dolls are not the everyday dolls kids usually play with but are ceremonial dolls handed down from generation to generation. They are displayed for a few days in the best room of the house, after which they are boxed and put away until next year. Parents who are able to do so buy new sets of dolls for a girl baby born since the preceding festival, and relatives and friends make gifts of dolls.  A set of Hina-dolls usually consists of at least 15 dolls, all in the ancient costumes. The display also includes miniature household articles which often are major artistic productions. The dolls most highly valued are the Dairi-sama, which represent the Emperor and Empress in resplendent court costumes of silk. They are attended by their two ministers, three kanjo (court ladies), and five court musicians. All are displayed on a tier of steps, usually five, from 3 to 6 ft. long and covered with bright red cloth. This stand is specially set up in the home only on this day.  Basically, think of it as the Japanese version of a nativity set...just without the savior.

In the old days, everyone made crude dolls of paper, and as they made them all their ill fortunes and sickness were transferred to the dolls. Gathering the dolls, they went together to a nearby river and threw their evils into the water.  It was also used as an occasion for a family outing just when the spring season started.  Hina-matsuri used to be one of the very few occasions when little Japanese girls had their own parties. It sounds like it used to be quite the shin-dig.  The kids got drunk on the candy and sweets offered to the dolls. Sometimes they cooked and prepared the food and cakes to be offered to the dolls. They drank Shirozake, a sweet mild rice wine, on the occasion. The main offerings are small cakes - hishi mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) fruit-shaped candy, tiny white and red dainties of osekihan (glutinous rice boiled with red beans) and colored wheat gluten.

So there you have it.  The Japenese way of celebrating girls.  But I'm sure the deli guy's hershey kisses are a good substitute.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Golfing and Eating

Apparently, my friends do not understand what a "comments section" on a blog is used for.  I keep getting text messages that say, "all you ever do is eat and play golf" or "stop writing about golf, i want to hear more interesting things."  I appreciate these comments.  Useful feedback is always welcome.  However, text messages do not tell the world that I have readers.  If you have an opinion you would like to express, I encourage your comments IN THE COMMENT SECTION!

Now, to respond to the non-existent comments, yes, I have been doing an exorbitant amount of blogging about golf lately.  However, I'd like to remind you that it was January and February.  For anyone not familiar with the Chicagoland area, there is no golfing in January and February.  It was crucial that I get in a few rounds.  As for eating, I have been trying to go to as many restaurants and bars as I can before I leave.  Since Hawaii is largely a service economy and everyone here seems to be waiters and waitresses, there are hundreds of places to eat on the island.  I want to know which places to send people when they visit as well as which places to advise them to avoid.

But alas, I aim to please the fans.  I will post more interesting stories.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Headnote of the Week

This one is just kind of funny (to law dorks).  Non lawyers probably don't know Rule 11, which may diminish the humor.  Briefly, Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states:

By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper — whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it — an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;

(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.

Basically, an attorney is only supposed to file a law suit in good faith and on reasonable belief in the merits of the claim (bullshit slip and fall cases, anyone?).  Anyway, here is the headnote:

Rule 11's admonition that every lawyer do necessary work to find law before filing brief applies even to lawyers who have two varsity letters in a collision sport and who were presidents of their fraternities.  Chambers v. Am. Trans Air, Inc., 17 F.3d 998 (7th Cir. 1994)

Olomana Golf Links

Olomana Golf Links is a pleasant Windward Oahu golf course located on the other side of the Koolau mountain range from downtown Honolulu and is the quintessential local golf course.  What I mean by that is that it's kind of a hidden course far enough away from Honolulu that you won't find any tourists here.  Also, it's not the most talked about course so the tourists typically don't hear about it.  For a Saturday afternoon, there was hardly anyone there, and they were all locals.  Although relatively short for a par-72 layout (5,800 yrds from the white tees), water hazards appear on each hole on the front nine. The back nine starts out with a combination of hilly par-4 and par-3 holes at the 10th through the 13th holes. The prevailing trades play a major factor in scoring well while the well-kept greens make for consistent rolls, a nice touch for any course.

Located closer to the Windward shore than to the towering Ko'olau range where mountain-induced showers can build up quickly, Olomana's typically sunny weather makes this course a reliable option any day of the year.  The views are pretty amazing as well, with the mountains in the distance and rolling fairways throughout the back nine.  It was not the most difficult course I've played here, but it was also not the most challenging.  It also was not the prettiest, but it was certainly in the top 3 or 4.  Overall it was a fun course that made the day enjoyable.  I think I lost one or two balls, but never wanted to rip my hair out. Had I not putted like it was the first time I ever played golf I would have easily shot in the 80s.  Unfortunately, I spent the entire day seemingly trying to figure out how to use a putter.

Pricing Information: (you can make tee-times here)

  • Seniors local residents 55 and over $35 weekdays not on holidays
  • Afternoon Kama`aina Specials after 12:30pm. Weekday $37/Weekends $45 BOOK ONLINE
  • Birthday Special - Play free on your birthday when you bring 3 playing partners. Proof of birthday required.
  • GROUP RATES 12 or more $41 Weekday/$49 Weekend
  • $95 18 Holes w/cart, $80 2nd visit (save $15), $65 each additional visit (save $30) with card after first visit
  • VISITOR TWILIGHT After 1:30 pm $80 Weekday/Weekend
  • VISITOR GROUP RATES 8 or more golfers $65 Weekday/Weekend