Archive for August, 2010

New job! New career! Yay!

August 31st, 2010


Halekulani Corporation, which owns and manages the world-renowned Halekulani and Waikiki Parc Hotel in Oahu, Hawaii, has appointed Diane Ako as Director of Public Relations. Ms. Ako, who will assume her new position as of September 1, 2010, will be responsible for directing all corporate, hotel and community media relations, overseeing communications for promotions and special events, as well as for supporting marketing initiatives for Halekulani and Waikiki Parc Hotel properties. The announcement was made today by Peter Shaindlin, Chief Operating Officer of Halekulani Corporation.

“Ms. Ako will be an invaluable asset to Halekulani Corporation,” said Mr. Shaindlin. “Her passion for the community and keen understanding of the local Hawaiian culture provide her with a deep understanding of what the Halekulani and Waikiki Parc Hotel provide in terms of experience and service excellence. Ms. Ako’s extensive background as a journalist affords her the distinct skill set necessary to maintain and to further our brand legacy and heritage with true integrity and sincerity.”

"I am thrilled to be joining one of the finest hotels in the world and learning from the best in the industry,” said Ms. Ako. “I’m honored to be part of a team known for the highest standards of excellence."

Born and raised in Hawaii, Ms. Ako brings over 15 years of experience, as well as a wealth of knowledge and insight, in broadcast, print and online media. She most recently served as a television anchor and reporter for KHNL-TV, NBC’s local Hawaii affiliate, and its sister station KFVE-TV, previously anchoring and reporting in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and California. The quality of Ms. Ako’s work has earned her recognition from the Northern California Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with three Emmy nominations, and she has also published a number of articles in various media, as well as blogged for Hawaii’s largest daily newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Ms. Ako holds a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Menlo College, Atherton, California, with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She also has strong ties to the community, volunteering with the Hawaii Zenyo Jujutsu Kai to promote a quarterly Womens’ Assault Prevention Course, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Aloha Medical Mission and Friends of the East-West Center.

About Halekulani Corporation
Halekulani Corporation owns and operates globally-acclaimed luxury hotel Halekulani and Waikiki Parc in Hawaii. Halekulani represents a luxury hospitality legacy of unique and iconic proportions. Halekulani, also known as the “House Befitting Heaven”, was named by Hawaiian fishermen over a century ago. More than a brand, Halekulani embodies a profound lifestyle experience of immeasurable hospitality, fusing the indigenous cultural qualities of Hawaii with innovative personalized service. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s finest hotels, Halekulani, on the Beach at Waikiki, has been hosting discerning travelers to Waikiki since 1917. Setting new industry luxury standards with its re-opening in 1983, Halekulani’s reputation and legacy for gracious hospitality, impeccable service and magnificent cuisine continues today, unparalleled on Oahu and renowned throughout the world. Waikiki Parc Hotel, conveniently situated in close proximity to Halekulani, was developed by Halekulani Corporation in 1987 following the successful reopening of Halekulani. The hotel offers affordable luxury in a chic and contemporary setting, and provides new guest experiences and gracious service, both hospitality hallmarks of the Halekulani brand. Waikiki Parc Hotel has also garnered international acclaim for its recent redesign and the opening of Nobu Matsuhisa’s flagship Hawaii restaurant, Nobu Waikiki, which is conveniently located in the lobby of the Parc. Halekulani Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui Fudosan America, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd.


Olivia and the nanny were in the living room when I got the call from Halekulani Corporation. "Give Mommy congratulations," he prodded. She paused to figure out what he said, then walked off.

He and I looked at each other in confusion. She returned a moment later with a bowl full of marbles and offered it to me. "Decorations, Mommy!"

That's our new phrase around the house whenever someone does something well. "Great job! Decorations!"


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August 30th, 2010

You know that tone of voice your mom uses when you're in trouble? We were driving somewhere together when my mom said, "So, a lady walked up to me at the bank today and just started talking to me like she knows me. I finally said, 'Sorry, where do I know you from? The senior center? High school classmate? Tai chi class?'"

"So who was she, Mom?" I asked.

"Well," my mom continued in her slow, deliberate voice, "she said she recognized my picture from the newspaper. I told her I haven't taken a photo for the paper."

I could now see where this was going.

"She said she reads about me in your column-thing, what computer blog or whatever you call it. What are you writing about me?" she asked with eyebrows slightly raised.

Duck and deflect. I laughed. "But, I tell you about the blogs that you're in. You've seen some, remember? When you're at my house I show you. Or Dad shows you from his computer, right?"

Now her gaze turned towards the back seat where my dad was. "No," she continued. "As a matter of fact, he doesn't."

Dad was snoozing, or trying to. Now forced to defend himself. "Well, every time I plan to, you're sleeping or something."

"Hmmph," she sniffed.

When we parked the car, I pulled up my latest blog on my smart phone and gave it to her.

And might I add right here, right now, that I have the best, loveliest, smartest, funniest, kindest, most helpful mother, who happens to be a darned good baker and a wonderful grandmother? Make sure you mention that if you happen to approach her. I no need get in trouble again.


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Jogging stroller

August 27th, 2010

The men I live with are very athletic. Claus and the nanny were college athletes. Claus still enters a couple triathlons a year, so he trains year round and strives to improve his personal record. Nanny was a competitive runner and gets mad if he doesn't place in the top five when he races. He has actually done a race with Olivia, and still placed seventh. Tai competes in martial arts and hates when he doesn't place first.

I admire their athleticism, but I really don't relate to it. I give myself a hearty round of applause if I just get out and walk for 20 minutes a day (which I don't always!) It takes a lot of effort for me to get myself out there. It's against this backdrop that I tell this story.

I decided I would run every morning with Olivia to preschool using the jogging stroller. The stroller is getting old and is well used. Claus and the nanny log at least 50 miles a week with it.

I'm curious if anyone else has had this experience/theory, but we think when BOB strollers get older, the front wheel starts wobbling when you run with it. The guys now lock the wheel in place so it doesn't shimmy.

I unlock the wheel because it's easier to stroll that way. I do not walk at speeds fast enough to make it wobble. On my first day of running to school, I was watching for any potential wobbling.

Olivia got into the stroller and strapped herself in. I started my slow jog. Five minutes into it, just when I was feeling pretty good about myself and the fact that I was at least doing something, Olivia called out from her seat, "Are you running yet?"

Ego, meet pin. <pop!>


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Car scams

August 25th, 2010

My friend Nate and I were discussing car repairs, when the talked turned to the latest scams he's been seeing in Hawaii. He's a car buff and belongs to car clubs, so he is very aware of these things.

I'd heard of the usual scams - padding charges, needless repairs, etc. In fact, I am sure I've been the victim of some of those scams. However, Nate had some new ones that surprised me.

1) Key imprint

According to Nate, you take your car in for servicing, and some unethical employee makes a copy of your car key which they can use to later steal your car, or things in your car. They look at your driver's registration to see where you live, and if it's not listed there, they ask for your driver's license for your home address. This is how they find the car later. He says he has two friends who believe this happened to them. These two friends used the same oil repair shop.

2) Breaking a part

According to Nate, there's a shop in town that seems to have a track record for fixing your original problem but breaking something else, so that you'll have to return later.

I was pretty shocked about both of these, and thought I'd put the question to the broader blogosphere: have you heard of such scams? Are there others? Where is a good place that you DO recommend taking your car for repairs and adjustments?


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Jujitsu camp

August 23rd, 2010

Every summer, my dojo holds a week-long retreat. We camp and hang out and practice jujitsu for four hours a day. There are guest instructors, special presentations, mainland visitors, and classes we normally wouldn't have (dance class - yes! - more on that later).


They've been doing it for two decades, but Claus and I have only been members for three years, so we're pretty new to the whole deal. We like it, though. It's a nice way to get to know other practitioners.

During regular practice, there just isn't time to socialize. Before class, everyone rushes in from work. After class, everyone rushes home. Camp is a nice time to dedicate a week to deeper study of this art, plus connect on other levels with masters of the craft. Some of the things the sensei have to say about jujitsu, or their life experiences in general, are amazing.

Club members come and go as our schedule permits, but the bulk of the members are there over the weekend. That's when we attended.


A bunch of people got promoted this year at camp, as our professor likes to do each summer. Congratulations to Lewis, Craig, Bev, Claus, Jon, and Nilo.

I'm still at the second level (blue belt) while Claus just got promoted to a second degree brown belt. Though we started on the same day, he is now a few levels ahead. It's OK. Now he can teach me.


He's ahead of me largely because he's simply a better athlete, and partially because I was so often tired that I missed practice in favor of sleeping at night. Claus, however, is constant. He gets into a sport and he lives and breathes it.

When he's training for a triathlon, he charts his progress on a computer spreadsheet and analyzes his split times. He wears a heart rate monitor. Me, I'm lucky if I don't get lost on the running trail. We are so different.


Plus, I left for 13 months. At first, it was because I was on the morning show and the hours conflicted with night practice. Then, I was recuperating from the exhaustion of a graveyard shift and the trauma of a layoff.  Then, I remained drained because I was watching a little kid all day. Finally, Claus asked me to return to the dojo because he missed me.

I stumbled across the dojo in 2007 and it was my idea to start taking classes. He wanted to come and make it our couples activity.

We liked the art, we liked the other members, and we liked having a bona fide shared hobby for the first time, so we stayed. Though I have been usually brain-dead by the time I arrive at class, I hope through perseverence I can be the turtle that completes this race.


You have to find a partner: high rank and low rank. I feel comfortable working with Claus because he knows me so well, and I trust him. Now and then I'm partnered with him. That's generally a non-issue, though when we work on ground work versus throws, it's a little distracting. As Laura pointed out, "Get your qi up. It looks like you want him to pin you down." ...Am I that transparent?

We aren't, by the way, the only couple at the dojo. We arrived as a package deal, but there are two other couples, one of them married and the other expecting a child together, and they met their mates through the club. So you know, single friends, I keep saying this is a nice way to meet new people...


We had an Oahu bladesmith, quite possibly the only one in the Pacific region, come give us a presentation on the weapons he forges. Christopher Greywolf spoke to us for two hours about the history of the world from the perspective of weapons-making. He was so compelling!




One of our club members is a former hula teacher. Auntie Ipo led a class on basic hula steps, because so many martial arts hide their kata in dance, like the Brazilian capoiera. Our jujitsu system was actually founded by a local Oahu guy who incorporated elements of the Native Hawaiian martial art, lua. I didn't know this when I joined the club, though I like the idea of practicing something that's part of my heritage. What a nice coincidence.

If all the other sessions were informative and educational, this one was purely entertaining for me. The guys... oh, the guys. These tough fighters didn't enroll in jujitsu class to learn to dance, but that's just what they were being forced to do for two hours on a Sunday.

Claus in white

Claus in white

At one point, Ipo wanted us to practice our "ami" or hip rotations, because it's a movement incorporated in some of the jujitsu techniques. He was in a line in front of me. Claus looked like he needed oil for those joints. "Go, Baby! Show 'um why I married you!" I yelled. I saw his ears turn red.

I bet he's really looking forward to camp next year.


What martial arts do you practice? What's your shared hobby with your significant other?


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