Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday musings

Well, our time in the sun here on the Sandwich Islands is done.
Did I mention done?
Anyway this will be a long day as we leave at almost midnight and travel to arrive home in the early morning meaning by the time we call it a day for real, we will have been up for about 36 odd hours.
It is the price one pays for a long flight back against time zones but a small one to pay when compared to what was experienced.
As mentioned before, little news of the world filters through so be ready (hopefully) for a bunch of cranky opinions next posting!
That being said, some news did catch the headlines here, albeit only with some serious searching.
The Argentine peso continues its steep slump and to add insult to injury, the authorities have boosted power rates in the country by up to 27% in some areas all the while every region is suffering crippling brown and blackouts of long duration during an extreme middle summer heat wave.
Really good timing by the bureaucrats...and yes that was sarcasm.
The Canadian dollar (loony to some) is also at 10 year lows vs the USA dollar. And yet voices are raised in cheer from the export sector as those products are now cheaper to sell. Anyone protesting is labelled as a spoiled rich person because their winter "vacations" paid in US money are now more costly.
Something seems a little off in that logic from each example.
There is a World Economic Summit being held in Davos, Switzerland.
You notice they are always held in areas where the average person cannot afford to visit?
Has there ever been one held in, say, Tijuana or the poorer areas of Mexico City, an American or Canadian First Nations Reserve?
Never gonna happen.
And what will come from this extravaganza?
Just a photo op and some lame sound bites.
What a waste of time and resources.
The Winter Olympics start fairly soon in Sochi, Russia amid concerns about security for the Olympic Officials, their families, girl and boyfriends....oh...maybe the athletes but really in the big picture, only the big wigs from the IOC count - right?
Just ask them.
As an aside, how many people even care about the Olympics anymore?
So called amatuer sports riddled with professional atheletes - NHL players for hockey in the winter games and NBA players for basketball in the summer games. And really, how blasted relevant are "sports" like javelin throwing or speedskating anyway to anyone other than the participants and the TV networks (don't forget the obscenely paid IOC royalty!) anyway?
As relevant as a pimple on your...well, you get the idea I think.
 Enough of that for this week, last time for sun and chill.
Friday night we went to another outdoor street festival in the small town of Kihei and had a great time viewing many types of local and imported products and souvenirs (and yes, all the tacky Island remembrances are made is Asia) and sample really, really good food at a number of local imbiss (aha- your new German word for the week!) stands and mingled with a very friendly crowd.
And Saturday, one last breakfast at the Baquette Bistro in Kihei, one wishes there was one in every town. As it is, there is a sister Bistro in Burnaby, British Columbia so that is on our to visit list this year.
So, until next week, here are a few last snaps from these wonderful Sandwich Islands,

take care out there,
flatlander 53
"Aloha a hui hou"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday musings

Amazingly some news from the outside world has made it here to the Sandwich Islands.
First off, some unsettling news from Argentina, that fabulous country.
Just 2 years ago while visiting, the exchange rate of the US dollar to the Argentine Peso was an unofficial or "blue" 4.75P to 1 US$. Now news reports indicate the rate is over 10P to 1 US$ - an incredible slide in the value of the peso and indicative of inflation and an economy out of control.
This does not portend good things for the average citizen.
And the government acts like nothing is amiss.
Troubling future ahead one thinks.
As well, the country now also mourns the passing of one of its most well known poets, Juan Gelman at the age of 83.
In Syria - what else except continued carnage and death - hello the United Nations????
And in the CAR or Central African Republic murder and violence explodes with scores dying and the world does squat and once again - hello the United Nations???
Iran is bragging to all that will listen that in the signing of the recent agreement to reduce and remove certain economic sanctions in return for inspection of nuclear processing sites that it has "won" the battle and that the world community backed down.
Sure sounds eerily similar to the successful blackmail that North Korea subjects the world to - always seemingly "blinking" according to passive news media but in reality always coming out ahead without giving up anything in return.
Hello the United Nations????
Great start to 2014 for that useless waste of money isn't it?
In America, it just seems that the so called Obamacare health care reforms are being consumed by a boondoggle of ineptitude. Hardly any one seems to be signing up, the total cost structure remains unknown and not a single happy person as a result. As an outsider one cannot grasp whether the plan is so deeply flawed or deeply fought against by entrenched political and medical foes. It does seem like the American taxpayer is the real loser so far, not to mention anyone ill and needing healthcare.
Sad, really sad.
In a story that is probably identical to many, many other developed countries, a report out of Canada estimates that Canadians waste/throw away over 27 billion worth of food a year.
Imagine that.
If only we could harness a way of reducing that by a modest 20% - what a fiscal boon it would be to the average Canadian and also what a potential sharing of food resources with NO sacrifice from the wasting countries and can tremendously benefit countries that desperately need foodstuffs of all sorts.
Surely there can be a way?
The way of Democracy is under attack in the Ukraine it seems.
This week laws were passed severely restricting public protests and that s not a good thing. The first step to dictatorship is that step which is proudly proclaimed as "good for the people".
Aha - your German word for the day?
And yes, sometimes it does feel like the world has come to an end.
OK, here on the Sandwich Islands we had 2 wonderful events happen to us this past week.
First was a superb morning meal at a place called the Baguette Bistro in the small town of Kihei. You go in and the people working there (one hesitates to just call them "staff") greet you warmly and assist you superbly. Indeed after becoming jaded to the well practised and (one suspects cynical) almost robotic "how's the meal?" at most establishments, you actually know that when they ask if there is anything that is not spot on that they really care - incredible. The portions are a welcome change from either the all-ya-can- put- on- a- plate or the equally sad hummingbird portion at eagle prices that are so prevalent these days. Just enough to fill but not to over capacity - excellent. The food - ahh, so good....
So, if in Kihei, here is their website:
Your stomach and wallet will approve!

The other event was one of those once in a lifetime things that you do not plan and until part way through it, do not realize what is truly happening but when you do - it is like rockets going off.
We went to a concert in Kahului,under the stars the other night by a group called Hapa.
They also featured a young lady, Manalani English, Miss Aloha Hula 2013 who performed to three of their songs.
And what a performance she gave.
Until you have seen her, you have not ever seen the hula done properly.
Fluid, sensual and conveying meaning without words and seemingly without elbow or wrists so smooth was she.
And Hapa, they performed so brilliantly in front of  a crowd that was so respectful and appreciative that one could only marvel, and with the canopy of twinkling  stars overhead, well, hearing them was like rainbows could sing...
One knew that at that moment, life was perfect and as it should be and for that I am so grateful.
Look up Hapa, listen to their music and be enthralled.
A hui huo!!!
rumour has it that the poor fellow para surfing in this picture goes by the name-flatlander52!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday musings

OK, this week, not a peep on what is happening in the world but a look at what one can discover by going off the beaten path here in the Sandwich Islands.
We went to a mall in the town of Kahului, the Queen Ka'ahamanu, and while gawking at all the storefronts, spotted a ""pop up " store with its signage proclaiming it to be the Story of Hawaii Museum store.
So of course, in we went.
Totally different experience than one might have anticipated greeted us.
No sooner did we walk in and instead of a dull, solemn atmosphere- we were cheerfully hailed by one of the owners, Bryant J. Neal and he took us in hand and walked us through the wide and storied displays. He recounted not just the usual litany of facts but enlarged upon them and interspersed them with anecdotes of local folklore and personal histories. We journeyed with him thousands of years of Pacific migration with tales of sacrifice and dedication and hardship to the meeting of Captain Cook with the peoples of the Islands to the naming of them as the Sandwich Islands all the way through to Hawaiian royalty and the actual overthrow of the royalty by American businessmen, Pearl Harbour, Pacific strategic war mapping (cartography is his career livelihood) native Japanese internment and eventual statehood.
Truly a fascinating and enjoyable narrative. He has a talent for bringing the past alive and the Museum reflects this passion and in all honesty, should be on a persons' must see list when coming to Maui.
One can purchase momentos from the Museum and they are of a type and quality that can adorn ones' walls and  are indeed fascinating to look at.
A shameless plug here, the Museum's permanent location is in the town of Maalaea and is at 300 Maalaea Harbour shop unit # 2. Their website is
Tell Bryant that flatlander52 suggested seeing them and he will spend some time with you!
We also motored to the small town of Paia and once again encountered a colourful history that is awaiting for all to find. A former "company town" built around a sugar cane mill, it is over 103 years old and has seen a heyday where the population was over 10,000 (20% of Maui's total population) in the 1930's only to shrink to 1,500 with the migration of camp workers to the town of Kahului and the abandonment of the camp housing in order to plant more sugar cane. Now re-discovered by surfers and tourists this town is interesting and vibrant. Another off the beaten path place one should check out.

Local cooking - always a treat to discover. we were walking along the shoreline this morning and our noses encountered the wondrous smell of chicken roasting so we were obligated to find the source. And what a find it was, with a large canopy set up and underneath a trio of tubs with racks of whole chickens and sides of ribs slowly turning over red hot charcoal coals. So being one never to refuse such an opportunity, a chicken was purchased for consumption later. The 1 hour walk along the beach to our place was difficult to say the least as all I wanted to do was devour the wonderful smelling meal!

 So, that is it for this week from the Sandwich Islands,
A hui hou!!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday musings

Once again the cocoon of news isolation that is a feature of life on the Sandwich island has enveloped me.
It has and continues to amaze me that in such a great and powerful country such as America, that news from around the world is almost impossible to discern on local media.
Indeed I can get real in depth analysis and real time video coverage of a local basketball game or a street festival here and not a peep about events in the Middle East or any other hotspot.
Introspective, myopic and yet worldly, such is America.
Ariel Sharon, definitely a polarizing figure and leader in Israeli politics is in extremely poor and declining health. A little reported fact is that the former Prime Minister has been in a coma for the last 8 years. One of his biggest accomplishments was, during his tenure in office, to halt Israeli settlement expansion into the Gaza strip. This earned him the wrath of extreme right wing political foes.
After so many decades of war, hate, fear and religious rhetoric, it seems there is no chance for a middle ground in Middle East politics. Just black and white - my way or no way for anyone as the loser will leave nothing but scorched earth behind for the victor.
From the region that gave the world 2 of the greatest spokesman for peace and tolerance - Mohammed and Christ, such a tragedy.
In Africa, in the Central African Republic, nearly 20% of the population has been displaced and left homeless due to the increasing violence engulfing the country.If 20% does not ring a bell with you - how about 1 million? Yes, 1 million people wandering around, lost, terrified and/or living in camps.
The world sits by.
A weary cynic might say that is because it is happening in Africa and not, say, Europe or North America.
Where is the United Nations?
Just Africa....
In a case of deja vu, since the US forces have left Iraq - more and more of the country is falling under the control of the Al Qaeda. So much for the deluded protestations of those opposed to US involvement - remember how they (always) said, keep the Yanks out, nothing will happen?
Tell that to women now deprived of any and all rights.
Tell that to the educated being rounded up and murdered there.
You ever notice how the most opposed to opposition to religious extremism and dictatorships reside in safe, secure democracies in countries in North America and Europe?
You never see them uprooting themselves and moving to such great places like North Korea or Afghanistan?
Speaking of the recession of 2008 which lingers to this day, you ever notice how not a single economist lost a job in that time?
In Germany, on the sage advice of economists, the state railroad, Duetsche Bahn, fired thousands of older employees to save money. Sound familiar? Well, now the company has discovered a looming employee shortage due to retirements in the remaining workforce and now must hire 10,000 new workers a year until 2020!
It is similar to stories reported in Canada for the entire year 2013 about the "housing price" bubble and how grossly overpriced houses were going to hit a "fiscal" wall and prices drop by 60%!!!!
Never happened.
Stories continue.
Those economists are never going to be fired are they?
OK, back to Germany and I am bringing back an old feature, The German word of the week!
And the word is suppenkasper
Similar to the North American variant of "the boogyman", the suppenkasper has a great origion and is well worth looking up.
Here on my Sandwich Island, the other afternoon/evening we went to a little "dorf" (German word again!) to visit a monthly street festival and what a treat it was. Food vendors serving meals from all around the world at very reasonable prices and products to be bought - including the always tacky yet endearing Island souvenirs, of course made in Asia!
My better half has re-surfaced the mantra of 10,000 walking steps a day and my poor feet are evidence of this!
I think I have walked 1/2 the way from the earth to the moon already.

take care out there,
A hui hou