Archive for December, 2011

Fight Club

December 31st, 2011
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Videography by Mr. Tracy Arakaki

You could never judge this book by its cover. Sitting demurely at her desk in conservative office dress code, Denise Caporoz looks the part of a desk jockey for a Hawaii health organization.

Her job is to process payments for an HMO. Caporoz is busy answering the phone and returning e mails, while the stacks of paper keep piling up this morning in her inbox. This is her life, Monday through Friday.

Caporoz at target practice

Caporoz at target practice

On weekends, however, she is literally a warrior. Lacing her archery boots and wrapping her leather belt tight, she prepares for pretend-battle. Caporoz is a member of The Khanate of the Golden Horde, a fight club themed around Mongolian warrior traditions.

“It’s fun. It’s like being a big kid. I get to play, mingle, relax,” she explains, as she tightens her bow before target practice.

Caporoz’s idea of playing involves weapons- but it’s all harmless, and all part of this man, Christopher Greywolf’s, vision. “Everyone has a warrior spirit inside, and a lot of times that warrior spirit is not able to be tapped,” he says.

Wolf, as he likes to be called, is an imposing figure – six foot two inches tall, and well over two hundred pounds of muscle. Standing in his chain mail armor, he looks every bit like a warrior in Genghis Khan’s army– nobody you’d want to tangle with on the battlefield.

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He is the club’s founder. His day job is as a bladesmith, specializing in weapons from 12th century Central Asia; Mongolia, to be exact. He developed an interest in the country and went to live in Mongolia for a total of five years, to learn more.

“My focus is blades, weaponry, swords, knives, any of that, and the armor,” he details. Wolf makes them- and he wanted to do something with them. So Wolf formed the Mongolian fight club 20 years ago, calling it The Khanate of the Golden Horde.

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“It’s a way for me to share what I’m doing with others. It’s a way to bring history back to life,” he smiles, in between taking down his opponents in the sparring ring.

Wolf teaches his students not only how to fight, but also how to make their own period pieces. Chris Paulsen is one of several dozen club members, and sports black body armor that once had a life as a plastic rain barrel. “That’s part of maintaining your war gear, to know how to fix it,” he nods.

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Paulsen’s turn in the ring is up, and the wood swords ring out a hard sound each time one fighter tags his opponent. It is sweaty work, a constant dance, and something they do every Sunday. “We’re trying to kill each other with a head shot or chest shot to the death,” he says, giving this reporter a running color commentary on his own fight, as he deflects and dodges blows.

As aggressive as it looks, it’s an art, like any other. Wolf sums, “It’s poetry in motion. The movements are elegant and beautiful.” He’s right. It’s mesmerizing to watch the men and women take their turns at practice.

And though it’s themed around a different time and a different place, the feelings are timeless and universal. Chris defines his experience as “community, unity, sisterhood, brotherhood.”

Wolf agrees. “We have such camaraderie. People are more like brothers and sisters in this club.”

To join The Khanate of the Golden Horde or to hire Wolf and/or the club for events, fairs, demonstrations, appearances, or lectures, call (808) 277-2738.

To preview the sparring sessions drop by Dole Playground in Punchbowl on Sundays from 4 - 6 p.m. Call (808) 277-2738 for club membership and dues information.

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Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Posted in craft | 1 Comment »

Father Forges On

December 30th, 2011
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Videography by Mr. Tracy Arakaki

Christopher Greywolf isn’t in Kansas anymore. Wolf, as he likes to be called, is far, far away from where he grew up, near a Native Indian reservation in America’s heartland. A stint in the Army brought him to Hawaii, where he’s made his home.

This morning, he’s standing at a hot stove, cooking his two children breakfast in their modest Honolulu apartment. “Here’s your breakfast kids,” he says, as he serves the plates. His son, thirteen year old Temujin, and his daughter, eleven year old Leoti, thank him and dig in.

This is how each day starts in the Greywolf family, before it’s off to school and work. After this single dad feeds the kids, he heads to his version of an office: a metal foundry.

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Wolf is a professional bladesmith, he believes one of only three in Hawaii. “A blacksmiths works with iron, makes tools. A bladesmith primarily makes weapons, swords, armor, things like that,” he clarifies, for those of us not so familiar with the terms of an ancient craft.

Wolf working while Tracy Arakaki shoots our story

Wolf working while Tracy Arakaki shoots our story

Smiting is hard work, but he’s smitten with it. “It’s the most unusual job you can think of. You go to work in the morning and get to make stuff with fire.”

It takes several days to finish an average blade. Wolf makes custom weapons, specializing in 12th century Asia; Mongolia, to be exact. He makes armor, too. “I like Mongolian history, Siberian history. That interest led me to Mongolia, where I ended up spending five years on and off.”

First stages of a javelin

First stages of a javelin

You may think buying a factory made knife is a lot easier these days- so do most people. That’s why Wolf has to do other things to pay the bills: sharpen knives for restaurants.

It’s not always easy, but he’s optimistic. “All hardship is there to pound you into something better. It’s life seeing what you’re made of.”

Being a single dad tests his mettle sometimes. But he says his metal work serves a larger purpose in his life. “You pound the steel and make things out of it, but life tends to pound you sometimes. Hopefully it’ll make something good out of you.”

He’s not done yet- he’s a work in progress- and promises that he’ll keep forging on.

To hire Wolf for custom metal work or to sharpen blades, call Cutting Edge Sharpening at (808) 277-2738. Wolf is available by appointment only.

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Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Trish Express

December 28th, 2011
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It's convenient for me that Paul Drewes now works at KITV. Never mind the fact that it's a good job for him, or a nice place to work, or anything like that. No, it's because my neighbor also works at channel 4, and we've turned her into our personal mule.

Before, I sat right next to him at work and we could leave stuff for each other on our desks, even when our schedules changed and we no longer shared any shifts. We live far enough apart to make it inconvenient to see each other, and having young families, we have too many scheduling obligations to make it easy to visit more than once a quarter.

So there's Trish. For two years, Trish has kindly ferried items for us.

Random things that have changed hands from Diane to Paul, or the reverse, include:

Cupcakes for kids' birthdays
Christmas gifts
Birthday gifts
A hand me down water feature
Amputated arm (plastic, for Halloween)
Light up skulls (also borrowed for decorations)
Makeup
Worms
Stroller
Flashlights
Jewelry
Clothes
Dog food
Leashes

Some people have the US Postal Service. Some use UPS or Fed Ex. We have Trish. Thankfully, she's OK with it. Maybe we need to tip her for Christmas?

***
Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Cubby train

December 26th, 2011
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At Windward Mall, there's a Cubby Train the children can ride. Tickets cost $3 per person, and the parents have to accompany children under age five. We enjoy this whenever we go to that mall (which is infrequent.) A recent ride proved quite amusing due to some misunderstandings between me and Olivia.

Like many similar type rides at malls across America, the train takes children on a slow ride around the entire building. As we passed the center, we drove right behind the Santa Claus set up, where kids line up for their photo and wish list session with Santa. It was early in the morning when we had arrived, and nothing was open yet. Santa's seating area was all stancioned off and I hadn't seen him.

There was, however, a bench behind the Santa area, and there was one rotund man sitting down. Olivia pointed and exclaimed excitedly, "Look! It's Santa! It's Santa!"

I thought she was pointing at this man with a pot belly, and I tried to hush her up, but she wouldn't. I think the man also thought he was the Santa in question because he looked a little surprised and hurt at the comparison. I continued trying to quiet her down because the train is slow and we were still within glaring distance of this guy.

"It's not Santa; stop, Hon," I urged.

"That man? In the red suit?" she questioned.

And there he was, sauntering up to open his lap up for business. "Oh, I guess it is. Never mind," I said.

The train continued. You know those senior citizens who lap the mall for exercise? We were there so early, we saw a lot of them. One particularly dogged walker had done a few laps. He had a leg brace, a cane, and a limp, but he went around a few times.

At the end of one wing, there was a seating area, and we saw him there, pooped out on an armchair with his bum leg inappropriately propped up on the arm. His cane was leaning next to him. He looked a little like a caricature of people who are super tired with their mouth open, eyes shut, and head tilted back.

"Look at that guy! He looks so funny!" Olivia yelled and pointed as we drove by.

This guy was so tired he couldn't hear us, but I felt bad for saying that kind of thing about a senior citizen (or anybody, really) when he was clearly fatigued. Also, he really didn't look all that funny to elicit such a reaction.

Once again I tried to quiet her down. Finally, I said, "Hon, he's old and resting. Let's not point at him."

She turned to me and asked quizzically, "The snowman?"

Yep, there was a big blowup snowman decorating the corner, far behind the man.

"Oh, right. I didn't see that," I corrected myself.

There was not a third miscommunication, but just to be sure I didn't do it again, I made sure to ask her for the rest of the day specific follow up questions to make sure we were talking about the same thing!

***
Also reach me via DianeAko.com

Pet safety during the holidays

December 23rd, 2011
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The holidays just aren’t the same without shiny, festive decorations and fabulous food.  Although these items are classic favorites for holiday celebrations, they also can be harmful to the health of your pet.

Inca

Inca

Keep your furry companions safe and comfortable this holiday season with a few safety tips from the ASPCA and Sure Fit (a maker of slip covers and home pet solutions):

O Christmas Tree

Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

No Feasting for the Furries

By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Toy Joy

Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.

• Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.

• Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together.

Forget the Mistletoe & Holly

Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Leave the Leftovers

Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won't lead to costly medical bills.

That Holiday Glow

Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

Wired Up

Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth.

House Rules

If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

Put the Meds Away

Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

Careful with Cocktails

If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A Room of Their Own

Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.   Sure Fit offers Folding Travel Beds for pets that are traveling with their owners, so that they can have a comfy bed away from home.

Safe Travels

If you are traveling with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and water proof seat covers.  Sure Fit’s Auto Friends Collection has great travel solutions from Pet Hammocks to Car Seat Covers that will protect your car from fur while keeping your pet comfortable.

New Year's Noise

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.

Wishing everyone - two and four legs alike!- a happy holiday season.

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