Snakes in Hawaii

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My favorite newspaper columnist here in Hawaii is Lee Cataluna. She writes a column for the Star Advertiser, our one and only daily newspaper and she always ‘hits the nail on the head’.

Today’s article left me rolling on the floor laughing. I especially loved her remark about peaches in Hawaii. So true.

For those of you readers who are not familiar with Hawaii laws, snakes are illegal here. Hence this timely discussion.

So if you haven’t ever read anything by Miss Cataluna, here you go:

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Impracticality of snakes should alone be deterrent

By Lee Cataluna 

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2011

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Pinkies aren’t free. That’s probably one of the main reasons there have been so many snakes turned in (or let go) on Oahu this year. In this economy, when it’s hard to pay for a full tank of gas and people are buying toilet paper one roll at a time rather than in bulk at Costco, who has money to feed a snake?

In the past three months, the state agriculture department has collected 15 illegal reptiles. The state offers an amnesty program, where owners of animals not allowed in the state can voluntarily turn them in with no threat of a fine or prosecution. It’s not hard to imagine that the recession makes paying for pinkies (frozen mice — I’ll spare you the gory details) a drain on the household budget.

The question bigger than “Why so many now?” is “Why so many at all?”

It’s nice to think that people everywhere are basically the same, but here’s one of those situations where there are two distinct categories: those who would go to the trouble of sneaking a snake into Hawaii and the rest of us who can’t imagine why that would be a fun thing to do.

Of all the things the mainland has that Hawaii doesn’t — ski resorts, casinos, Trader Joe’s, peaches that taste like peaches — the last thing to covet would be a snake. A snake is of little use as a pet. It won’t bark if a stranger comes to your door or purr in your ear while you unwind from a bad day at work. You can’t use their eggs to make French toast. They won’t eat your kitchen scraps and turn it into vermicast for your lawn.

It’s hard enough to bring a full-size tube of toothpaste on a plane; imagine trying to sneak on a snake. There are urban legends decades old of baby snakes sewn in the pockets of overcoats worn on the plane, but with everything TSA can see with their new naked scanners, clearly they can spot a small snake.

And then there’s the cost of care and feeding and the general humbug of getting a snake to eat — websites describe how to grab a pinkie with a set of barbecue tongs and “run” it around the snake cage to simulate live prey. Even in a boom economy, who has that kind of time?

If the lure of a snake is purely its goth factor, Hawaii has icky critters that are legal and even helpful, i.e., Jackson chameleons, composting worms, cane field toads.

Snakes are more than illegal. They’re impractical. That alone should be enough to eradicate them from Hawaii right now.

Lee Cataluna can be reached at lcataluna@staradvertiser.com.

Blue Water Grill

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This is a restaurant review.

Yesterday I had lunch at the Blue Water Grill in Hawaii Kai. It was such a nice experience I thought I would share it with you Dear Readers. This restaurant is in the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center.

Blue Water Grill

The restaurant looks directly at Koko Isle, and it brought back so many memories.

In 1968 we purchased a townhouse on Koko Isle in Hawaii Kai. The island was in the middle of the marina and was made out of the silt that had been dredged out to make the open water.

The homes on the inside circle were $32,000 and the ones on the water were $40,000. We could only afford one on the inner circle.

In 1972, I sold that townhouse for $60,000 and today it is more than ten times that. When we lived there, there were lots of canals to cruise around, but no commercial business other than a small market, Baskin and Robbins ice cream and Colonel Sanders fried chicken.

It was a fairly long drive, with no freeway, to get to town, buy a pair of shoes, go to the beauty parlor, out to dinner and a movie or pick up a prescription at Longs.

My three children went to private school ‘in town’ and there was no bus system so every day I was the ‘bus’ driver back and forth. As my son was an athlete and my daughters were dancers, their schedules didn’t always coincide. Some days there were three trips back and forth.

This was the view of Koko Isle and Koko Head from our waterside table at Blue Water Grill

There is an outside patio that seats about 100 and an inside that also seats about 100. It was a gorgeous Hawaiian day with palm trees swaying and trade winds off the water. There was a steady stream of boats going right by our table.

Lots of Boston Whalers, motor boats, kayaks and pontoon boats. When we lived on Koko Isle, we had a Chris Craft and it is essential to have a boat if you live in this area. Many of the homes have their own docks, but there is also Koko Marina dock and the shopping centers have docks for their boat parking.

 In 1968 to 1972, there was no Hawaii Kai Shopping Center or Hawaii Kai Town Center. There was no Costco, Longs, Safeway, or Ross. No Fantastic Sams, or Panda Express. No City Mill or Starbucks. No PayLess Shoe Store or Bank of Hawaii. And on and on.

There are several movie theaters and a multitude of fine restaurants now. You can even boat across the channel, go to Safeway or Longs and boat home.

Blue Water Grill serves lunch and dinner. The menu is very extensive. There are many pupus (appetizers). Peter and I split the Kiawe chicken skewers on sticks. There were four, served with a great dipping sauce.

Peter at the Blue Water Grill

For our main courses, Peter had a seared ahi (tuna sandwich) and I had the Caribbean Cobb Salad with Cajun blackened shrimp. Yum Yum.

Everything was served in beautiful triangle shaped plates and bowls. I asked if there were any rolls or crackers to go with my salad and the answer was ‘No’. I thought that was very odd, as to me the best part of any meal is a good bread basket.

For dessert Peter had the key lime pie and I had the mango creme brule’e.

Mango Creme Brule’e

All in all a very nice lunch. Except for no rolls or crackers with my salad. If you are planning on lunch, be aware that ours came to $62, and the only drink I had was iced tea. Peter had water. (And we shared an appetizer)

The food was excellent. But the atmosphere of being on the water on such a beautiful day is what makes me want to go back for a sunset dinner.

If you want to check out this restaurant for yourself, drive out Kalanianaole Hwy. east till you get to Keaholu Street. Turn left and go past the Hawaii Kai Town Center, past Costco, and you will come to the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center. The restaurant is on the water, behind Longs.

If you are driving from Waikiki or Ala Moana area, figure on half an hour and change to get there.

Chocolate Soda!

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In New York this is known as an ‘egg cream’. I just call it a chocolate soda. So imagine my delight when I found a way to make this in a very simple, lo calorie way.

First you buy a box of Almond Breeze chocolate (not the unsweetened one). Then you buy a bottle of soda water.

Now put some crushed ice in bottom of tall glass. Pour some Almond Breeze into glass, and fill up with soda. Stir and enjoy.

Supposed to be 120 calories to a cup, but you only need about 1/4 of a cup for this. So 30 calories and soooo good.

I use the vanilla unsweetened Almond Breeze on my cereal. It is better than milk or creamer.

I guess you could mix the Vanilla (sweetened) with some soda water, for a real cream soda.

Cooking for me is such a puzzle. I am trying to eat lo cal, while trying to fatten up my skinny sister. I cook for both of us and she gets ‘full’ after two bites of anything.

There are certain things she will eat all of. Chocolate pudding is one of those things. But not the instant kind. No, the kind that is called Cook and Serve. I add a big glob of unsalted butter after the puddding has boiled. I figure if I can sneak some extra calories into her food, good.

She is seventy and her cholesterol is very low. I try to put butter on everything she eats. Not so easy on a green salad.

Some Good Advice About Your Cell Phone

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4 Things you might not have known about your  Cell Phone

For all the folks with cell phones. (This should be printed and kept in your car, purse, and wallet. Good information to have with you.)There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies.

Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival.

Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST   (Emergency)

The Emergency Number worldwide for  Mobile  is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND   (Hidden  Battery  Power)

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.

THIRD   (How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone? )

To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone:

*#06# .

A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.

If your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

And Finally….

FOURTH   (Free Directory Service for Cells)

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:

(800) FREE411   or (800) 373-3411     

without incurring any charge at all.  Program this into your cell phone now.

This is sponsored by McDonalds.

This is the kind of information people don’t mind receiving, so pass it on to your family and friends. 

 

Taking Photos

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I love to take photos. I use my iPhone, and my Canon PowerShot SD980IS. I can now email photos directly from my iPhone.

With the latest feature on iPhone, you can share up to five photos on one email. And you can send this to several people at once. I see where iPhone5 is coming out soon. It is supposed to have a better camera.

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It really is fun to get a photo of your grandchildren at Disneyworld with Mickey one minute after the event. Especially if you are in Hawaii and they are in Orlando, Florida.

Ben and Mickey at Disney World

I remember my very first camera. It was a Kodak Brownie camera. It was a cube shaped square and black. It took square black and white pictures with little jagged edges. There were twelve photos on a roll of film.

Nowadays, twelve shots is a normal amount to take of one thing. In the olden days, I remember how important it was to always carry an extra roll of film. When I went to Yosemite in 1948, I took twenty four photos, which I have to this day.

There was a little window with numbers that counted down so you knew how many photos you could take. Twelve, eleven, ten…

After putting the film in the camera on the little rollers, taking the photos, then taking the film out and putting it in its own little case, then you had to take it to the drugstore to have the film developed.

Usually it took a couple of days, but some places could get it done by the next day. Then one hour photo developing came out and Wow!

I remember how exciting it was to pick up your photos, then take them home and put them in your photo album. There were little black or white gummed triangles to slip on each corner, so you could place them on the page.

Then wonder of wonders, plastic sleeves came out and you could slip the photos into the pages without using any adhesive or corners.

I even had a photo album in the mid seventies that had cardboard pages with plastic film on each page to ‘hold’ the photos.

I guess the children of today, or even the teens and young adults couldn’t imagine anything so bizarre. But to us at the time, it just seemed normal.

I enjoy the photo booth on my Mac computer. I take most of the photos that are in this blog with that camera. I can film my latest project and edit it right on my computer. Then I can insert it into my daily post immediately.

The picture quality is pretty good, but if I don’t like how my hair looks, I can just take another from a different angle. Or go comb my hair.

Of course there are still cameras where you have to set the exposures, but the big thrust in cameras these days is the Point and Shoot. So simple and digital so there is no film.

Peter is a professional photographer and his camera is huge. Plus he has many different expensive lenses that snap on for this and that. He has a special back pack with spaces to hold all his lenses and camera body.

And yet, he enjoys the freedom of being able to snap away with his iPhone. He can still edit and print pretty good photos directly from his iPhone. Amazing. Here is one he took the other night while I was fixing dinner. (you can find these coca cola glasses at MacDonalds)

My Canon PowerShot also takes videos and has sound. I didn’t know about the sound part until I got home and was sharing my video photos with my grandchildren and there was Grandma yelling and screaming directions all caught on tape.

It is so nice to see what you have taken immediately, so you can either save it, or take another if it didn’t come out so well.

Lots of times I go on vacation all by myself and there is no one to take MY photo. I have taken lots of photos of myself the old fashioned way, but now there is a reverse lens so you can take a photo of yourself and see what you are taking.

Photo of me taking photo of myself in Las Vegas-using iPhone (before I converted the case to red)

I had this conversion done at Tmobile. They take all the insides out of your iPhone and put it in a different case. I am the only person I know with a RED iPhone. (So much easier to find when you lay it down.)

Plus I can instantly tell it from Peter’s when they are sitting side by side.

The worst camera story involves my father and a movie camera. The year was 1970. My children were eight, ten and twelve. I was thirty two.

My father always loved the newest gadgets and so when he went to Europe, his first stop was Switzerland to buy the latest thing, a Bolex eight mm. movie camera.

As he was going to go to all the major cities in Europe and finally on to Africa to actually film giraffes and zebras, he was so excited. So excited that as he left the camera store he dropped the camera on the sidewalk.

Not thinking anything could be wrong, he proceeded to take thirty rolls of film over the next few weeks. When he got back to Hawaii he had them developed and couldn’t wait to have his whole family over for movie night.

We got to my parent’s house, which was all set up like a theater with popcorn and candy. Ta da. He put the first reel in. Uh, oh, it was Switzerland in the Alps, taken from the bus my parents were touring on.

But since my father had dropped the camera, he had screwed up the view finder and what he really got was the yellow line down the middle of the winding road.

It was really sad. He had a great photo of the bottom of the Eiffle tower. The doormat in front of the Taj Mahal, the sidewalk in front of the Louvre and the saddest and funniest of all, the legs only shot of a herd of giraffe.

I had a similar experience many years ago. There was a camera called a Minox. It was very small and fit in your purse. It was 1980 and I decided to take a trip around the world. I bought a brand new Minox to take on my trip. I don’t know what was wrong, but every single photo came out blank.

Taking Vacation Photos

Prolonged exposure to season-long serialized dramas has vastly reduced the space available to store our own memories. Free up more brain-space for your favorite shows by keeping your vacation memories where they belong—in photographs—using these handy vacation snapshot tips:

  • Before photographing any tiny birds, make sure to scream at them to hold still.
  • Make your photos “artsy” by turning the camera upside down.
  • You can already see what’s in front of you. Why not take a photo of your face to remember your reactions?
  • For a timeless look, shoot all your home movies in Kodachrome, the only film solution that makes your children appear to be made of shiny metal.
  • Don’t bother photographing any famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower—there are plenty of pictures of those already.

Shattered!

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What in interesting idea. Shattered Nail Polish! This is a black polish that you put over whatever color nail polish and it ‘shrinks’ so it gives a look of shattering.

This is best over a bright color like green, red, blue or purple. (Yellow or white?) It is sort of dull, so you have to put a top coat over to give it a gloss.

I think it would be fun for Halloween. Peter said, “Eeek” when he saw it. I think orange nail polish with black shatter over all, would be fun for Fright Night with the grandchildren.

I’m flying to be with the children for Halloween. Wonder if nail polish is allowed on the airplane? I guess I could get some when I get there. Isn’t this ridiculous?

This is by OPI and I got it at Nordstroms Rack for $7.97. Sephora carries it at $9.50. They have a new one called Blasted. This is the same idea but it is silver.

I know it is silly, but sort of fun to try new stuff. I think it would be good on toenails. Maybe a hot color like bright red, with black shatter.

I just went to the beauty parlor and it seems that this polish is all the rage. It now comes in red shatter, royal blue shatter and tourquoise shatter. I got the royal blue.

But thought I’d be conservative and have my nails done with black shatter over white.

I have a hot pink bathing suit. I am planning to wear it on my ‘winter’ vacation. Think I’ll do my toes in hot pink and ‘shatter’ them. Should look good by the pool.

Speaking of color. Dior has a beautiful mascara in royal blue. I know that sounds ‘over the top’ but really it is very nice with dark brown eyes. If you put it on over bare lashes it is more blue, but it you put it on over black, it is a little more subtle.

If you want to be a little more ‘crazy’, you can take your thinnest brush and use it as a liner also.

You only live once.

What do you think?

My camera-and a senior moment

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Dear Readers: First I must apologize. I totally forgot to post a blog yesterday. It has been nearly a year now that I have been blogging and this is the first day I forgot. Please forgive me. Sandy

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I use several different cameras. I have my new Canon sure shot with the large picture display,  sound and video, my old Canon power shot that fits in my purse, my iPhone camera and the camera on my computer.

I hadn’t used my Canon in quite a while and so when I went to use it yesterday it wouldn’t go on. Thinking the battery must need recharging, I set that up, waited till this morning, and tried again.

Still no dice. I took the battery out, reinserted it. Checked all the settings to make sure I didn’t have the camera on lock or download. Nothing.

So I gathered up the camera, battery, box and cables and took them back to the photo shop where I bought the camera. I told the guy behind the counter that I was having trouble getting my camera to turn on.

I then proceeded to show him how I kept hitting this button, but the camera wouldn’t work.

Then he said, “That’s not the power button, that is the photo taking button” Click. Voila. Boy, did I ever feel stupid.

This reminds me of the time when I bought my first word processor. It was a Brother Whisper Writer and the man at Staples gave me a great demonstration.

I brought it home, set it up, plugged it in and Nothing. None of the keys would work. I was so disappointed. I had to repack it in the box with all the styrofoam, lug it back to the store and find out why it didn’t work.

The salesman set it on the counter and I proceeded to show him my problem. Nothing moved. Then he said, “You have to turn it on”, and he flipped the ‘on’ switch, which Brother had brilliantly placed on the back of the machine.

Again I felt like an idiot. When all else fails ‘read the instructions’.

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