Archive for March, 2011

The Tominator does it again

March 30th, 2011

That Tom Brower. Our Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako state representative gave another rapping invocation for the house session on Monday. "This one is more philosophical: 'The Sergeant Pepper' of my invocations, or at least the White album," he said. Here is the text:

Tom and Speaker

The Tominator has reinvented himself
from street “wrapper” to singer-songwriter to, today, an American poet.

May I share with you this message of self-reflection entitled, "Info Brief Your Ego"?

This year's issues, the laughter, the tissues,
The civil unions, homeless solutions,
Animal abusers, winners and losers.

A financial depression begs the question:
Legislator, are you doing all you could this session?
Are you politicking? Or really giving?
Standing for something? Or just chest-thumping?
When others look bad, do you feel glad?
A hearing— to defer a bill? Rally the public for shock value thrill.

Is your "Change we can believe in" for a purpose?
Or an attention grabber? Just scratch the surface.

Being effective isn’t just [about] winning elections.

We are friends but let's not pretend
That the fishbowl we live in doesn't invite egotism.

Pettiness isn't pretty and real work isn't easy.

As a body, we are only as effective as people think,
Only as strong as our weakest link.

From Politician to Statesman… The realization you find:
It's sad to do the right thing,  and thankless at times.

Together, if we want what's right, let's correct what's wrong, stand to fight,
sing our song.

Rise above for insight, wisdom and love.

Overcome the mud on our shoes. Do it for the right reason.
We may not win big, but we won't lose.

Because the real goal, isn't the voter poll. It's to humble yourself and save your soul.

"I am always interested in new ideas to improve government and encourage residents to participate in the legislative process," said Rep. Brower. Surely, a rhymin' rep will do the trick?

Tominator's license to ill

Tominator's license to bill

In related legislative news, he reminds constituents to attend Art at the Capitol on Friday, April 1st from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  "Feel free to drop by studio #315, to see our art and talk about government,," he invites. Here is a sneak peek of his office art on YouTube:

brower 2011 beard


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Fish cocktail

March 28th, 2011

We have many pets in the house, including a fighting fish named Kuzushi. Every morning, Olivia likes to feed Kusuzhi. Her hands are small and sometimes the fish pellets bounce out when I pour the allotment in. I have taken to putting it in a small container for her to then pour into the bowl.



One morning, the nearest container was a plastic martini glass that I had saved from a party. The glass is three inches tall, and it was used to serve shrimp appetizers. I saved it and took it home for Olivia to play with.

"It's a fish cocktail," I told her. "Give him his breakfast." Now Kuzushi is served from a fake-martini glass daily.


Recently, we had a fancy function at work. One of the star bartenders we partnered with was New York's famous Julie Reiner, owner of Clover Club, Lanikai, and Flatiron. I'm not a big drinker - only one glass of wine will do me - and I really don't know about cocktails. Apparently, she is a huge star on the mixology circuit.

I know this because one of the magazine writers came up to me mid-dinner to rave about Julie, Julie, Julie. "If Julie does more with your hotel, I want to know about it! She's huge! She's great!" he said excitedly.

I had to ask what makes a mixologist so special. Since starting at Halekulani, I've also learned about the King of Cocktails, Dale deGroff, and his cult following. They're both very nice people, and I greatly enjoyed interacting with them for work, so I can see why they're well-liked. I needed to get educated about their drink prowess.

This writer friend explained that excellent bartenders know flavor pairings and they make "each drink feel like a complete meal." (Um, I know people who treat each drink that way and it doesn't have to be a fancy cocktail.)


Considering that I am really feeding Kuzushi his complete meal out of a drink glass, I guess I can say that in the world of fish cocktails, I am a super mixologist!


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Coupon clipping

March 25th, 2011

Did you see the milk coupon on the cover of MidWeek the other week? I know I've hit my domestic stride because I called around a couple of people and asked them to save me the coupon from the paper.

It was for that local milk, Hawaii's Fresh Milk, and we like it. It tastes good. As a side bonus, we like supporting local.

The coupon is for two dollars off. That's a lot! I called my mother and my neighbor.

As I placed the first call, I practically had this out-of-body experience where I could hear my own self talking on the phone. I felt like I was in a time capsule back to my own childhood when my mom was all about coupon clipping. "Vicki? Hi. If you're not going to use the milk coupon on the Midweek, can I have it? OK, thanks. I'll get it later."

There was a time when I eschewed coupons. I was so sick of my mom's coupon-mania by the time I was a teenager. My mother lives for the Wednesday food ads and the Sunday coupon section. She would clip everything out, sort it into not just different categories of food, but different days of the week AND different grocery stores to hit. When we got to the store, she would divide and conquer by giving my father and me our little allotments and having us gather up the assigned supplies.

I tried this coupon thing when I was in college. It didn't work for me. When you are cooking for just yourself, or maybe yourself and a friend, it's just too much work to keep a fully stocked kitchen or to bother with saving fifty cents on cranberry juice.

Mom and my Aunt Gaylore sent me coupons all the time, though. It made them feel like they were saving somebody else money, though most of the time I would forget the coupons at home when I went to Safeway. I never told them, and Aunt Gay will never know now, because she died a couple years ago.

This was my coupon MO for years. Busy through my career, busy after I got married, and plus, I'm a Coscto member. Then I had a kid. I don't know why, but that coupon gene kicked in after I gave birth. It drives my husband crazy.

Firstly, my cousin always gives me the Entertainment coupon book, and then I feel a little compelled to use it. Looking for a dinner option? "I have a coupon for that!" I tell Claus. The one year cousin Val didn't give me the book, is the year Auntie Bobbie did. Claus' new automated response to me is, "I have a credit card for that!"

Secondly, I shop less at Coscto due to tight schedule from my full-time job. It just makes sense to go to the neighborhood grocery store. I sometimes have a coupon. I'm not as full-on as my mom, but I'm consistent enough to make my husband roll his eyes.

The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree, to my mother's delight!

Do you use coupons?


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Three in two! Penny Palfrey's swim #3 recap

March 23rd, 2011

She said she was going to do it, and she did. Marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey came to Hawaii in March with the intent to swim three Hawaiian channels in three weeks. She did better than that: she swam three channels in two weeks. Not only that, but she encountered tsunami surges, jellyfish stings, and marine mammal visits along the way.

Husband Chris Palfrey, also a distance swimmer, recapped, "On March 18, Penny, Forrest Nelson (a very good friend from Los Angeles) and I swam the Kaulakahi Channel from Kauai to Niihau, a distance of 17.4 nautical miles (approximately 30 km). The closest point to point course is 14.6 nm, but is it not possible to either start from or finish at, either of these two points.

The crew woke up at 3 a.m. to drive to Port Allen, Kauai, where they boarded Captain Don Jones' boat. "Don had assembled an excellent crew to help out. His deckhand, Calvin, we had met before. Josh, the kayaker, was full of excitement and really looking forward to the paddle. And Sean, our handler, was a fantastic waterman, solid as a rock and great at feeding and attending to our needs, even though he had never been on a channel swim before," said Chris.

The boat pushed off at 7:30 a.m. just east of Pacific Missle Range Facility, making sure to stay far enough away from sensitive military borders. A few dolphins near the boat offered a friendly hint of what was to come. "There was no breeze and only a one metre NW swell, but getting into the beach for a dry land start was tricky as we had to navigate through shallow water with lava rock below, between the waves breaking," said Chris. "After getting out through the break, we met up with the boat and quickly got into a rythym. Forrest and Penny are both faster than I, but we swam side by side at a comfortable pace. It took almost a half hour for the visibility to improve, but when it did, the shafts of sunlight going down into the deep blue were amazing. Visibility was over 30 metres (100 feet)."

Previous swimmers had seen several sharks, and the boat captain refers to this channel as the "sharkiest" channel in Hawaii. Would this happen to the Palfreys? Six and a half hours into the swim, four dolphins came within five meters to look at the show. "They were magnificent to watch: Streamlined, moving effortlessly and obviously inquisitive about the strange visitors. Whilst this was happening, I could see two white shapes way down deep (maybe 50 metres below us) which I assumed to be more dolphins."

"But then, it started to rise and I could make out the shape of the body. It was a humpback whale (the white things I first saw were its fins) and then a second whale appeared. They could also clearly see us and seemed to be checking us out, either from below or to one side or another, coming in as close as 25 metres. They stayed with us until the next half hourly feed and were simply amazing to watch."

After a time, a few more whales joined, coming so close, the swimmers could see the whales' eyes. In all, the whales hung out for two hours. "These amazing scenes took our minds off what was becoming a fairly brutal swim."

It was a very windy day, with uncomfortable conditions, including a currents flowing from three different directions. "Initially, they carried us from north to south. Then at around the half way point, they switched from south to north. And then, at the end, we got slammed."

"Quite a few people were on the beach watching us. But since Niihau is called the Forbidden Island, we suspect they may not have been there to offer a friendly welcome," wondered Chris. Swim time is around nine hours, coming into the (legal) high water mark on Niihau at 5:48 p.m. This was slower than they wanted, but with the high winds and huge waves, they were happy to even finish.


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Penny Palfrey's Molokai swim follow up

March 21st, 2011

Kaiwi Channel during Penny's swim

Kaiwi Channel during Penny's swim

Penny Palfrey has a whale of a tale when she sees her friends and family in Australia. The Australian marathon swimmer, who completed swim two of three in the Hawaiian Islands, debriefed the media after her last swim.

Chris and Penny Palfrey, March 2011

Chris and Penny Palfrey, March 2011

I wrote about her in a previous blog before her attempt, but this is a fuller follow up with the team after they had time to rest and unwind after the massive undertaking. The woman is gutsy if nothing else. She started her swim while Hawaii was still under a tsunami advisory, the morning of Friday, March 11.

Apparently, she spent the night before in an evacuation center in Molokai, so she and the team didn't really even get sleep! The swim was to start in the pre-dawn hours, so the boat captain had been waiting by the shore. Due to the tsunami surges, he had to move to the open water for safety. Finally, when the authorities opened the harbor at 9 am, the team drove to the shore to start the swim.

"She was ready to take on Mother Nature come literally hell or high water," wrote her swim advisor Steve Munatones. "At 10:54 am, Penny jumped in the water and took off at her controlled but furious 76 stroke per minute pace.  Hour after hour, she maintained the quick pace and only occasionally commented that the conditions were less than ideal." With characteristic laser-focus, she pursued her goal of finishing the Kaiwi Channel.

Difficult though it was, Penny also recalls amazing scenery. "It was great out there. It was beautiful. I swam over a whale before my first feed. I first thought it was a whale shark, but I also saw the bottom so I figured that it could not possibly be [a whale shark]. That was pretty amazing. I saw dolphins. I actually saw the fins."

"Conditions during the crossing were far from ideal, with 15+ knot NE to ENE winds and wind waves of 6 - 8 feet, clashing with a 6 -8 foot NW swell. Despite this, Penny made very good and steady progress, hour after hour. Then, as a final test, she had to battle a front on current for the last hour as she approached Sandy Beach in the dark. Pilot Jim Dickson and kayaker Jeff Kozlovich (a Honolulu lifeguard) guided her in through the surf and she left the water at 10.34pm. Her total elapsed time was 11 hours 40 minutes. She eclipsed the previous record (which I held) of 12 hours 53 minutes, set in April last year. And prior to that, the record was 13 hours 20 minutes, which had stood since 1974. Penny is the 14th person to swim the Kaiwi Channel, since it was first crossed in 1961. We are the only married couple to have completed it," said Chris.

The team didn't return to their Waikiki hotel until after 1 a.m.! Details on the outcome of their much-discussed third swim.

To read a first-hand account by Munatones, click here.

Congratulations, Penny!


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