Archive for May, 2010

Makeup mayhem for woman driver

By
May 21st, 2010



The first full day started out with a bit of drama. We were driving north on Highway 101, going to San Francisco, when we witnessed a single car accident - right in front of us. We were just south of the city when it happened.

101 North

101 North

In the far left lane,there was a woman in her thirties driving a black Impreza sedan. We think she was applying makeup when she lost control. Claus was driving and saw the whole thing.

He says she drifted into the center lane, overcorrected, and swerved left (towards the median.) She overcorrected herself again and swerved right again, into the center lane. After another overcorrection, she veered left.

That last time, she went too far left, and hit the concrete median barrier. We were driving 60 miles per hour and she was consistently in front of us, so she was also probably going at that speed.

She hit the median with the back left of the car, which caused the car to ricochet off the median, and across all four lanes of traffic. I was looking at my phone but I heard a noise, plus Claus started saying, "Whoa whoa whoa!" while applying the brakes.

When I looked up I saw the woman's car scraping against the median, and black smoke coming up from the tires. We all watched it cross all lanes of traffic in what seemed like slow motion, smoking tires and screeching horribly. The woman driving the car looked panicked.

The car spun around 180 degrees as it crossed the highway. While it was in the center lanes it was actually horizontal, so if it was hit, it would have been broadsided.

It hit the guardrail on the right side, stopping mostly in the shoulder lane, facing the wrong direction. The nose was sticking out a bit into traffic. Luckily, it was in a straight stretch of road so other cars had time to merge left.

There were five of us in my car: three adults and two kids. I didn't think we would hit her since we were braking in time, but I thought it was a very real possibility that another car might hit her, and then ricochet and hit us, causing a multi-car accident.

I have never seen a car accident taking place, and it was really surreal. Claus saw 100% of it, and I saw 90% of it. It's amazing and LUCKY no cars were hit. That is a busy freeway.

We pulled over to help her, but she seemed fine. Claus walked up to her window and saw makeup scattered around the driver's side floor mat. I called 911.

She was in shock, I'm sure. I was a little stressed out from the thought that we might get hit.

I wish Olivia was 15 years old so I could tell her this is why you are not supposed to drive distracted. No putting on makeup, no talking on the phone, no reading text messages, etc. This sure made a bigger impression on me than any amount of lecturing, and I DON'T put makeup on while driving!

I hope we've all learned a valuable lesson from this close call, even if we weren't the ones who caused it.

Have you ever seen an accident in progress?

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

San Francisco trip

By
May 19th, 2010



I went to the Bay Area for the Emmy awards dinner. I never attended the dinner before because it's always on a Saturday in May, which is ratings in television land. We are not allowed to take days off, and to fly from Hawaii to the ceremony in San Francisco was impossible for a weekend anchor.

View from Alcatraz

View from Alcatraz

To rehash, I was up for two Emmy awards, and was asked to be a presenter for half a dozen awards. What fun!

This year, I am not working, so I could go. It took a lot of energy and time because my husband wanted to come, which means our child has to come. I have some lovely friends and relatives because my cousin, her child, and my best friend also decided to come and make a trip of it. We decided to have fun for five days even if I don't win.

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We arrived on a Thursday night. We stayed at an apartment in Menlo Park. We had dinner with a family friend, Aunty Betty, and enjoyed a shopping trip to Trader Joe's.

Aunty Betty

Aunty Betty

The rest of the agenda:

Friday: Alcatraz tour and dinner with a classmate

Saturday: Exploratorium and Emmy dinner

Sunday: Filoli Estate tour and indoor skydiving, then dinner with family friends

Monday: California Academy of Arts and Sciences and Muir Woods

Tuesday: leave

I love the Bay Area, having lived here for a decade in my teens. I went to college here. I miss it. I love the weather, the sophistication, the cultural variety, the restaurants. I love Hawaii, but the Bay Area just has a different flavor. When I come here, it feels like a homecoming every time.

Our old house in San Jose

Our old house in San Jose

I'll share my trip log with you over the next series of blogs!

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Drinks and pupus

By
May 17th, 2010



Friday night, I called Paul Drewes to say hi. We talk about once a week. "What are you up to?" I asked. I could hear the din of small children in the background.

"Drinks and pupus on the lanai," he said.

"Oh! That sounds nice."

"No. It's not that relaxing," he corrected. Paul is one of the most easygoing, optimistic people I know. It is not often that he will say anything is difficult.

He proceeded to explain that his wife was at work and he was alone with the boys, ages five and two. He had prepared dinner and brought it to the balcony, explaining to the boys the concept of sitting back and enjoying a meal. "But the minute I set the plate down, they attacked it like sharks. They wolfed down the food."

"I see you've been teaching them newsroom culinary etiquette," I laughed.

"Yes, and every time I sat down to eat, someone asked me for something, so I was constantly getting up and down. Finally, when they're done eating, I get to sit down and eat. I take a sip of my beer. They ate almost everything, so I grab the last potsticker left on the plate. I bite it in half, and I'm looking at the sunset, and thinking, 'OK, this is good now.' Then Noa looks up and says, 'Daddy, that's the one that fell on the ground.'"

IOLANI PARENT

By way of cheering him up, I thought he'd appreciate a silly reminder of his family's latest good news. I said in an exaggerated voice, "You mean, Noa, the future Iolani School student?"

"Yeah, that's not helping," he said.

"Why? Aren't you happy he got into Iolani?"

"Sure, Gina's thrilled. But every time you say 'Iolani,' I hear '$17,000.'"

***

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Cake decorating classes: gum paste flowers

By
May 14th, 2010



This is another installment in my series on cake decorating classes that I've been taking since January at Cake Creations Dessert Haven in Manoa. Classes are one night a week. We learned to mold nine different flowers (and one grass) in this four-part series on gum paste flowers:

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plumeria

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stephanotis

My rose

rose

calla lily

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stargazer lily

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water lily and pad

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hibiscus

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orchid

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peony

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bamboo stalks and leaves (bamboo is in the grass family)

Every night, we learned about three different flowers. On the last night, we only did one flower, but we spent the rest of the time coloring the dried flowers. We used either the airbrush, colored dust (which comes in matte, shiny, or shimmery), or colored dust mixed with liquid so it's like paint.

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A different coloring option is to dye the gum paste before you work with it. Or you can roll in some specks of colored gum paste onto an otherwise white section of dough, to get a speckled look (see peony on the right, above).

These flowers are lifelike and a little sturdier than flowers made of fondant. Gum paste is sugar dough mixed with gums, which makes it easy to shape. It's like modeling clay. The sugar enables it to dry hard, but it can be very brittle. It is considered technically" edible, but I wouldn't advise eating it. It tastes bland. I would more consider it a non-toxic ornament for the cake.

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You take a cookie cutter and cut out basic petal shapes. You have to work with the cookie cutter size you have, so if you want a larger petal, you start with the gum paste a little thicker, like 1/8th inch, cut the petal, and then roll it out flatter with a rolling pin. The petals should be thin.

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Some flowers, like the plumeria, you just piece together. Some flowers, like the stargazer lily, need wire inserted delicately in each petal, then after it's dry, you piece it together like a puzzle. Some flowers, like the hibiscus, need ruffled edges in the petal.

It looks really simple, but there are little tricks for each flower. You also have to work fast because gum paste hardens and cracks.The teacher, Lani, said she only felt comfortable making the rose a couple years ago. So, great. She is a professional baker. That means I will never get that one.

Wrapping rose petals

Wrapping rose petals

I had trouble rolling out the paste to a consistent thickness and shape. I had trouble inserting the wire so that it didn't break through the thin petal. I had the most trouble with ruffling the edges with the baller. It would rip.

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Ruffling the edges

I totally enjoyed the class, but for my personal hobby, I have decided to buy the molds for the flowers that were already fairly easy for me, that I can practice and get right (hopefully) over time. My favorite is the peony, which to me looks like a gardenia if I leave the stamen out. I also liked the plumeria, the water lily, and the stephanotis.

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I thought the class was extremely interesting, and gained- once again - a greater appreciation for the professionals who make it look so good.

***

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Do I scream "housewife"?

By
May 12th, 2010



I think I just got profiled in Safeway. I was strolling, alone, near the cash registers with a cart full of food, when I passed three thirtysomething men. Now that I think about it, they looked a little lost. One of them stopped me at the moment I passed by. "Excuse me. I have a question."

I stopped. What I usually hear is, "Are you that lady from the TV?" What I got on this day was, "Do you know where the butter is?"

I was pleasantly surprised, and amused. I stared at him with a half smile and said nothing for probably 10 seconds; long enough for him to feel foolish, and for his friends to creep away in embarrassment.

I wasn't offended. I was just stunned at the question on several levels.

1) Coming from a workout, I was in athletic clothing and I had a purse. It was not remotely close to the tan, aloha print uniform the clerks wear. I don't even wear a name tag.

2) We were near the cash wraps, and there were few or no lines. They could have asked a cashier.

3) Who doesn't know the butter is near the dairy products?

4) Is it because I'm a woman?

5) Is it because I had food in my cart that was not pre-made or frozen, thus signaling that I know my way around a grocery store?

My momentary pause led him to ask if I spoke English. That made actual laughter come out of my mouth. The whole situation was really funny.

He then said, "This isn't my Safeway."

Even funnier.

I said, "This isn't mine either, but I would assume it's down there, by the milk."

He thanked me and left.

I told this to Claus, who decided that it was a corny pick up attempt. I really don't think so. I was wearing very little makeup, looking less than glam in my workout clothing.

How NOT glam was I? The shorts belong to my husband. Yes, I put on the wrong pair of shorts this morning when I dug around the laundry basket (clean clothes) and pulled out what I thought was mine.

I put it on and then recognized it was his. I was very sad to realize they actually fit. He is six inches taller than me but with the same waist size? It is not a proud moment. But anyway...

I'm quite certain they just assumed I knew where the butter was, because I scream "housewife." And you know what? That's OK with me.

***

Also reach me via DianeAko.com

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