Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pecular to Hawaii

Things you will only see in Hawaii

Since they only have twelve letters in their alphabet everything sounds similar - or gets a really long name such as the last name of a city councilman "Kaho‘ohalahala" and a fish called "humuhumunukunuku apu a'a."

They really do say "Aloha" and "Mahola."

Its called a ook-a-lay-ee not a UKE-a-lay-ee.

Everyone's banana bread has been voted "best" by someone.

Coconut bikini tops....oh yea!

Pedestrian crossing signs were the stick-man is carrying a surfboard

Men and Woman bathroom figures wearing Hawaiian shirts

Note on tourist map that states "many tourists believe that the stacks of rocks hold a special significance. There is none."

And my favorite:

"Please do not play with the poi" (it is sold in plastic bags and is really squishy. Ask me how I know)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maui Wowi

After 15 years the wife and I take a vacation together to celebrate our 25th. My wife wanted to get back to her roots having been born, or so she says, in Hawaii. I keep demanding that she prove it, I think she is really one of them native Californian's wanting to corrupt my way of living.

So we stayed at a really cool place, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, on Maui. It suits our type of lifestyle to a tee. It is really low-key, with a great staff, friendly people, and other easy going folks. One thing it has is lots of space - green areas - not all packed in like sardines around a swimming pool like the hotels around it.

They were nice enough to upgrade our room to a bottom floor with a patio - which in our opinion - is the only way to do it.

It is also really close to the beach - maybe 200 yards, and also close to a nice place to snorkel.

So, we are saving our money to take the boys next time with a few modifications.
  1. October was a perfect time to go. No rain, cool breeze, low humidity.
  2. We would forgo the breakfast buffet in place of feeding ourselves with fruit and cereal purchased at a grocery store. Both the wife and I don't eat that much and we ended up overeating each morning.
  3. We would rent beach chairs and an umbrella from Snorkel Bob's. It's about $30 for the week which beats the price the hotel vendor charges you at the beach ($45 for a two person cabana chair per day or $20.00 for a beach chair per day.
  4. Snorkel Bob also rents snorkel gear by the week. That's what I used this time. $26.00 total as compared to $9.00 per day at the beach. Plus I can take it with me.
  5. A rental car was nice. We got ours through Travelocity. We did the road to Hana but not the volcano, used about 1.5 tanks of gas for the whole week. Without a car it will cost two people about $130 to get from the airport to the hotel.
  6. We would eat again at Flatbread Pizza in Paia - which is on the road to Hana at the begining.
  7. We would eat the coconut gelato from the Ono Gelato Company in Lahaina and in Paia.
  8. No one did a smoothie or shaved ice that was worth doing again. But the coconut gelato was worth going back for.
  9. We would take a snorkel trip to Molokini crater. Not sure who to go through - be wary of deals - they usually involve a timeshare sales pitch.
  10. We would probably do a Luau next time. There is one in Lahina near Aloha Mixed Plate and Canary Mall. Same warning - be aware of deals - they are associated with timeshare sales.
  11. Speaking of the Aloha Mixed Plate - that's on the list to go again. The Kaldi ribs were great. "Million dollar view meets paper plates."
OK, so now I really want to go back! I thought San Antonio was laid back...Maui takes it to a whole laid back level more.


Monday, October 5, 2009

35 ways to say "no"

I donate plasma, yea that kind of plasma – the same as poor college students, winos, and the homeless. I donate plasma just like I used to donate blood and then aphaeresis. I do it because it actually goes to help someone, unlike a cash donation that pays for a charities expenses – which may include a director that makes more than I do.

So part of the process involves having to answer 37 questions, two of which require a positive – yes – response. I answer the same questions every time, which is up to twice a week. It is highly unlikely that in the span of two days 95% of the questions would have a different response – still they must ask them.

So in a sing-song robotic cadence the questions start…Are you…..Have you…..until done. So I got to thinking about mixing it up a little – you know – see how many ways I can answer in the negative with a verbal response. So here is my list of 35 ways to reply to a question that requires a “no” response:

1. No
2. No!
3. Nooooooo
4. Nope
5. Nopperz
6. Nada
7. Nyet
8. Nyeah
9. Nah
10. No way
11. Not a chance
12. Zip
13. Zippo
14. Zilch
15. Hell no!
16. nein
17. Iie (eee-yeh)
18. Uh-uh
19. Nuh-uh
20. I think not
21. Never
22. Not in this life
23. Not hardly
24. Negative
25. Negetory there
26. Nosireebob!
27. Nay
28. Nix
29. No sir
30. Absolutely not
31. 10-74
32. Zero
33. Nary
34. Certainly not!
35. You got to be kidding me

Number 35 is often used by first time donor heterosexual men when asked “have you ever had sex with a man, even once, since 1977?” Number 15 is the common response by red necks to the same question.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What we have a comunicate!

Warning! Boring regulatory discussion below.

Whoa pardner! Where does thou get thy information? First off, a disclaimer: I have no dog in this hunt. What I care about is sound conclusions based on actual – and sound – information. Second, I am a pragmatist – I look at all angles to come to the best course of action. This does not make me pro or con and I hope it does not lead to any bias on my part.
Cement maker TXI withdraws request to burn tires in Midlothian
Two newspaper articles on this. and My interest is on how the public looks at an issue involving risk and exposure. Poorly is my conclusion, but it is not necessarily their fault. We - those of us who understand the situation - do a poor job of describing what is taking place. Another reason is that you can find a scientist to agree or disagree with any consensus (think cigarettes and global warming) – if you can’t trust scientists then who can you trust when it comes to data? And, to top it off, business has done a terrible job of consistently being good stewards of the air, water and land that we require for living. So there are a lot of balls in play here shaping the attitude of the people who, like it or not, make the decision of what takes place in their neck or the woods (NIMBY or “not in my backyard”).

So you take a confused public and you take an information source (news) that pulls from the same ignorant or misinformed or biased populace and what do you get? Rehashing of incorrect information. One reason for this is that newspapers and news shows rely on a limited source for what they report. One guy reports it and everyone picks up on it. The “fact” checking was supposed to be done before it went out on the wire. So the reason we have poorly informed and clueless citizens when it comes to complex issues such as risk and exposure, rests not just on the propaganda “no harm here” purveyors or the NIMBY folks who want a risk free world, but on news organizations that do not make sure their information is correct BEFORE they send it out.

Case in point:
The plants produce 6 million tons of cement a year. According to the most recent EPA statistics, the plants in 2007 emitted about 300 tons of sulfuric acid, nearly 20 tons of benzene, and smaller amounts of mercury, chromium, manganese and other chemicals.
The statistics came from where? The TRI report? That really is the only place one would get this information. So I looked up the TRI report for TXI in Midlothian, Texas. I even went to an EPA site that consolidates the information. (Note 2007 is the most recent data available). [Note: the quote states "plants" so this information may have been combined for all TXI or all cement kilns]

Where did the amount of “20 tons of benzene” come from? And, 522,118 pounds of sulfuric acid equals 261 tons.

Now I don’t fancy myself an expert on TRI Form R reporting, but my read of the information TXI reported is this:

  • The total amount (in pounds) of the sulfuric acid released to air, water, land, and underground injection wells during 2007 Through 5.2 Point source air emissions occur through confined air streams such as stacks, vents, ducts, or pipes was 522118 pounds.
  • The “Annual quantities of the chemical associated with all source reduction and recycling activities” reports 522118 pounds as “Total other on-site disposal or other releases.”
So what this data states is: Of the 522,118 pounds of sulfuric acid emitted, 522,118 pounds of sulfuric acid were “released on-site……. to mediums [which] include fugitive and stack air emissions, discharges to water bodies, underground injection to class II-V wells, land treatment/application farming, RCRA subtitle C surface impoundments, Other surface Impoundments and Other disposals. This total does not include on-site releases or disposal due to catastrophic events.”

Now why the EPA puts this data in a section called “source reduction and recycling activities” is beyond me, especially when TXI reports “0” source reduction and none of the “mediums” described are recycling activities. So the question remains - what is taking place at TXI with this sulfuric acid? Well what we know is this; 522,118 pounds of sulfuric acid is emitted “through confined air streams” and is sent as a waste stream for mechanical separation, scrubbing, and incineration (thermal destruction other than use as a fuel).

Now logic tells me to stop here before I start speculating all over the place. Logic also tells me that the reporter should have asked the question “how much is actually released into the air?” All the TRI does is track what is released, it does not track what is actually available for human health exposure or actual environmental harm. It’s all about the risk paradigm, if there is no exposure there is no risk, regardless of how much is emitted on a TRI report.

Is TXI’s operation contributing to health or environmental problems within the community? I don’t know. What I do know is that the article regarding their operation was flawed which would normally lead some to say “yes.” What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Proof of Guilt? Not on My Watch!

So in Texas, apparently, the law says I can shoot someone on my property if they are stealing from me – or if I feel threatened. This, I did not know and am kicking myself for the potential risk I have put my family in - that is- by allowing strangers to enter willy-nilly onto my property.

Now the risk if a stranger causing me harm is small those Lilly-liver liberals state, but all it takes is one bad apple to cause me harm. So it is better to be proactive than retroactive in my book, so I will shoot first and ask questions after.

“But what if you are wrong?” the cowardly liberals will squeal. Well. what if I am right? There is always a ying and yang, a positive and a negative, a good person and a bad. To not act would send a message to the bad guys that it is OK to break the law, to cause harm, to take from me those things that I earned through my own toil.

Now this doesn’t mean I am going to shoot Girl Scouts and tricker-treaters when they come to the door. No I am a little more qualitative in my formation of guilt than that. If they look like they might be bad, if me and my friends would come to the same conclusion as to our belief in their guilt, then I will plug them.

Yea, yea, yea, they could be innocent – could – that is, well think of all the guilty ones that get away with it. Besides, most of my pals feel the same way with this course of action, so what’s the big deal if a few accidentally get taken out? As long as there is a law that gives me the right to do it then by golly I will carry it out. Better to err on my side then anyone else’s.

So I hear tell that my method for ascertaining guilt my come into question by a group that obviously doubts my right to pass judgment and act on it. Good thing I have the power to nip that little foray into the truth in the bud. I have a lot of friends that think like me, all I need to get is them to “look” into it, or, better yet, to ignore it completely!

I like things the way they are, no need to go messing around in this business of protecting the innocent and proper justice crap like that. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of about my course of action. I believe they were guilty so I shot them. Don’t you dare go looking to show me wrong. Oh, don’t show up on my doorstep either, unless you are with me, you look awfully like a bad guy.

Well got to go, me and Governor Perry are heading down to the boarder to help the Feds out.

Lock and load!