Archive for March, 2012

Collection of "Life Lessons"

March 30th, 2012
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Natalie Parker is a young woman in her mid-20s who spent time a few years ago as an intern at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Nuuanu, helping seniors engage in day-to-day activities. "I was so appreciative of the advice and lessons I received from working with these senior adults," she says. Parker realized these seniors were an untapped resource and decided that the wisdom they had accumulated over their years could be as much of a help to other people in all walks of life as it had been to her.

age cover

She began a project to request and then collect handwritten letters and postcards from seniors all over the country, each containing short yet valuable sentences of advice or observations- "wisdom" -from a generation who could look back and reflect on what values and common sense ideas had proven useful and helpful for them over the years.

AgeOfWisdom2

She then compiled -from hundreds of responses- 35 of her favorites and juxtaposed the quotes with appropriate, though unrelated, old photographs, and published AGE OF WISDOM: A COLLECTION OF TIME-TESTED ADVICE.

This beautifully designed and printed book is filled with visual and handwritten treasures on every page. "It brings you back to the past," says Parker. "AGE OF WISDOM is very reflective and reminiscent...[the quotes] stun you with their simplicity. I think one of my favorites would have to be 'Enjoy the process.' It is a good life lesson and a lovely thing to think about now that I have finished the book."

I found it enjoyable to skim through, and a good conversation starter. It led me to talk with my husband about what time-tested advice we use as our own guides. His is Find your own path. That's how he came to move halfway around the world from Denmark to Hawaii, and that's also what led him to start a rather non-traditional business (a mortuary.)

Mine is Follow your heart. I went into television not with the total support of my Chinese parents, who preferred that I find a more stable, less showbiz career. My dad wanted me to be a lawyer. But I knew, even at 20, that if I had to drag myself to a dull job every day I would hate it in no time. I try to make all my decisions based on love, not money.

I would enjoy hearing what your guiding principle(s) are and why!

Polar Plunge

March 28th, 2012
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Thrill-seekers are invited to participate in Special Olympics Hawai'i’s fourth annual Polar Plunge on April 1 at Waterfront Plaza. Although plunging into a pool filled with 10 tons of ice may seem like a creative April Fool’s Day joke, participants will be freezing for a very good reason as they boldly raise money and awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics Hawai'i.

Courtesy: Special Olympics Hawaii

Courtesy: Special Olympics Hawaii

Participants can take on the challenge as an individual, form a team of friends, co-workers, or even toss their boss! All plungers are  required to raise a minimum of $100 by the day of the event. In addition to the sheer thrill of experiencing sub-zero temperatures, participants are eligible for a number of awards and prizes, including an April Fool’s Day costume contest!

"All year round, our employees continually commit to community give-back programs, working alongside organizations like Special Olympics Hawai'i that provide crucial services to individuals and communities within the state," said Lisa Chun, HawaiiUSA AVP, Business & Community Development. "We work to help our members, as well as others in the communities we serve to fulfill their dreams. We build partnerships to provide athletes the opportunity to succeed on the playing field, as well as in other areas of life. This is a small step toward achieving our overall goal of giving back to the community."

Courtesy: Special Olympics Hawaii

Courtesy: Special Olympics Hawaii

If one dive into the bitter cold water is too tame of a challenge, participants can up the ante by registering to become a "Super Plunger," taking the plunge 12 times in 12 hours during Special Olympics Hawai'i's Super Plunge - Dawn to Dusk!  Super Plungers must each raise a minimum of $1,000 and will receive a special prize package, including a professional massage and meals during breaks, as well as recognition at the Polar Plunge. The Super Plunge - Dawn to Dusk begins at 6 a.m. on April 1 and will conclude at 6 p.m.

For those who can't brave the ice water but still want to support Special Olympics Hawai'i the event also offers a "Too Chicken to Plunge" option, which allows supporters to raise funds for Special Olympics and participate in the day's events - from the safety of the "chicken coop" which offers preferred viewing of all the action.

"Our athletes take new challenges head-on on a daily basis so this event is a fun way for the community to come together in that same spirit and push themselves to new limits for a good cause," said Nancy Bottelo, Special Olympics Hawai'i president and CEO. "The employees at HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union have been longtime volunteers and their generous support lends itself to sports training and competition as well as health initiatives which improve quality of life for athletes across the state."

On the day of the event, the Super Plunger, team and individual who raise the most funds will be awarded a prize and have their names engraved on the Polar Plunge Perpetual Plaque. Prizes will also be awarded for the best April Fools' Day costume. The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. at Waterfront Plaza's makai lawn along Ala Moana Boulevard with food booths and entertainment.

Last year Special Olympics Hawai'i's Polar Plunge raised more than $40,000 for local athletes. Special Olympics Hawai'i provides year-round sports programs for athletes free of charge. All funds raised through the Polar Plunge will directly support the programs and cover the costs of facility rentals, equipment, food, lodging, and transportation at the State Games held three times a year.

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Korean day spas

March 26th, 2012
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I've had my first experience at a Korean day spa, and it was very interesting. I liked it, but it sure was different.

Having worked in Kalihi for 13 years, I passed Loess Day Spa just about every day on my way to and from the station. On the outside, it's not much to speak of, and frankly, I thought it was a hostess bar.

Recently, I read an article about how great Korean day spas are, and I was talking about it at my new job. I now work with a lot of Asians who have strong ties to Japan and Korea, and my coworkers reassured me it was fabulous, and they go, too.

They warned me about the nudity. The concept of communal (emphasis on communal) bathing is common in Asia, where cleansing is a social experience.

Here is my personal experience: Upon check in, I received a locker and a terrycloth robe, then was ushered into a large, open room where it all happens. I was shown the showers and instructed to bathe with soap then soak in a hot tub to prepare the body for a massage. I had hung my key on the hook with the robe, but the clerk was nervous about theft and told me to keep it around my wrist at all times.

There is a steam room, sauna, and cold plunge tub; I'm sure they are all nice, but I am not fond of any of those amenities, so I sat in the very large hot tub letting my pores open and my muscles relax. There were women of all ages and races (mostly Korean national, though) at the time I went, including a very old Korean woman who was showering with the help of an assistant, because she couldn't stand up well on her own.

After about 20 minutes, my masseuse called my name, and then told me to follow her. One area of this room has half a dozen plastic-covered massage tables on it, side by side, upon which you lie down while a Korean grandmother dressed in black bra and panties rubs and scrubs you down.

At first I did not understand why it had to be done in undergarments, but now I realize they sweat so much doing this, they scoop cold water onto their bodies to cool off. Black is just their uniform color. The undergarments should be viewed as more like a swim suit.

Next to the massage table is a grey plastic garbage can filled with hot water. She used a smaller bucket to scoop this water onto my back, then she used one of those Japanese scrubby cloths (the kind you get at Longs), a bar of soap, and she rubbed me down top to bottom, front and back and sides.

Because my skin was softened by the hot tub, it came peeling off in long, grey noodles. Like, seriously. I have never been exfoliated like this. I liked the idea of all that old and dead skin coming off but it was also a tad gross to see as it fell off by my face.

Don't take this as a complaint. It's just me marveling at the stuff happening to me. Periodically, she threw water on me to wash the surface clean.

Here are more differences between the efficiency of the Asian experience and the fru-fru, modest, American experience: 1) Draping - what draping? 2) She gets the washcloth right in there. Like, she is as thorough as possible while remaining maternally clinical.

After this, she had me shower off briefly and then return to the table, for the massage. She poured oil on me and went to town.

First she did my back, then she had me turn over. While she was rubbing this side, she also applied a cucumber mask to my face. Decadent!

To finish it, she shampooed and conditioned my hair. I was not expecting this. Aside from my hairdresser, nobody has done this to me since I was a kid, and I loved it.

The whole thing- the way she scrubbed me, the brief and familiar way she communicated with me, the way she washed my hair - reminded me of being coddled like a child, and I enjoyed it. It felt very assuring and comfortable.

I should clarify that I am part Asian, and I am used to being spoken to by my Chinese relatives in short, brusque, commanding tones. I think other cultures sometimes interpret it as rude, but to me, it's just the way it is. If this is not your orientation, you might not receive it as I did.

After it was over, she told me to shower again, and sit in the hot tub. I did not want to, but she insisted. I don't totally know why, because she only knew enough English to get by, but I'm guessing there is some theraputic reason.

When it was finished, I dried off and asked the front desk clerk, who did speak English, what else there was to do or see. She showed me the other rooms, which were heated and were made of certain elements believed to boost health - charcoal, jade, and mud rooms.

She suggested I lie down in a room, so I laid on the floor in the jade room. It was warm and pleasant, but I was soon bored, so I left.

There is a kitchen area where you can buy food to eat, but I didn't have time to try it.

I paid for my scrub+massage package and left, with the hopes of returning one day soon!

When I went to work the next week, I told my coworkers about the massage. They were happy I liked it - but we agreed to warn each other before our next visit so as to avoid awkward encounters!

Ouchie note

March 23rd, 2012
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Kids are so violent. I never quite realized when I was childless, how much children bite. Other than having my head proverbially bitten off  :(   now and then, I haven't ever been literally bitten, that I can remember.

Olivia came home with a note from school documenting why she had a bandage between her fingers. I don't know if you can read it.

Ouchie note preschool

It says Olivia and another child were "arguing over a wagon, the other child then said I'm going to bite you, then Olivia said 'Try.' Then the other child bit her between the fingers."

This is the first time Olivia's been bitten at school (maybe second - it doesn't happen often). She is not a biter.

So I'm not really concerned, though WebMD.com adds more perspective on these four year olds who are biting: "After age three, children usually bite when they feel powerless or scared, such as when they are losing a fight or think that they are going to be hurt by another person. Children older than three who frequently bite other people need to see a doctor. Biting at this age may be a sign that a child has problems with expressing feelings or self-control."

Reading the note made me wide eyed in amazement, before I let out a laugh. I could totally picture this little schoolyard incident. It's the succinct, wacky, threatening dialogue. It's the slight pidgin accent I presume in the retort "Try."

Can you even imagine if adults went around solving our workplace issues like this? What I picture in my head is SNL-skit random hilarity.

Beauty vs. brains

March 21st, 2012
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In the age-old battle of bigger vs. better and brains vs. brawn, score one for better and smarter. smart USA and Harris Interactive today released results from a survey  that found Americans deeply value smarts over looks and hold the belief that less, not more, is more.

The survey, which was conducted online in December among more than 2,000 Americans aged 18 and older, found that for all the talk about reality television and celebrities behaving badly, the majority of Americans (88%) - both young and old, male and female - would prefer to date a person who is intelligent and philanthropic like George Clooney or Reese Witherspoon, over someone with a pretty/handsome face like Megan Fox or Alex Rodriguez.

The smart USA survey also found that:
Nearly 7 out of 10 (69%) Americans would prefer their spouse to speak another language than have washboard abs
Almost 3 in 5 (59%) Americans would rather have their partner gain 20 I.Q. points than lose 20 pounds
An astonishing 95% of women and 80% of men would prefer to date someone who is smart and philanthropic like Reese Witherspoon or George Clooney than someone with a pretty/handsome face like Megan Fox or Alex Rodriguez

While the last decade is often seen as a period of gluttonous consumption, McMansions, and Super-Size meals, the old adage that less is more seems to be ringing true in today’s post-recession era .  The survey found that three out of four Americans prefer to receive a present in a small package over a large one. Those who thought bigger was better tended to be young, a preference that shrinks as people get older and wiser (34% of Americans age 18-34 preferred bigger presents compared to 22% of those age 45-54 and 17% of those age 55+).

Overall, on the subject of preferring less over more:
97% of Americans believe that at least some of the items in their household are junk (i.e., they could easily get rid of it)
Nearly one out of 10 (9%)  Americans believe they can part with a full half of their stuff
9% of Americans believe that 51-100% of the items in their household are junk, indicating that the supposed American obsession with size and quantity is overstated

"The fact that a majority of Americans are deeply concerned with right-sizing their lifestyles and making intelligent choices shows why smart has so much curb appeal today," says smart USA General Manager Tracey Matura. "People are rethinking whether bigger is actually better and focusing instead on value. They're looking at how they can cut down the clutter in their lives, whether in their choice of vehicle, home or other purchases, so they have fewer, better things rather than simply more, more, more. And smart is proof that good things do come in small packages."

Our smart car rental in Italy, 2004

Our smart car rental in Italy, 2004

smart, a Daimler AG brand, is a small car whose model-line consists of five fortwo models. You may have seen some zipping around Oahu; they're adorable. The unique models, classified as ultra-low emissions vehicles by the State of California Air Resources Board, are just under nine feet long, 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide, and surprisingly roomy inside.  According to a smart USA press release, all smart vehicles are designed to be 85% recyclable and over 95% reclaimable, and over 48,000 smarts have been sold in the U.S. to date.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Smart from December 6-8, 2011 among 2,246 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.