Archive for December, 2012

Microplastic debris pollutes Kailua Beach

December 21st, 2012

The winter sea currents have washed up a shocking amount of pollution on at least one Oahu beach. I was walking the length of Kailua Beach recently when the white sands became lined with ugly plastic pollution.

Kailua Beach microplastic debris- December 2012

Kailua Beach microplastic debris- December 2012

There was a 50 yard swath of shoreline between the Kailua Beach parking lot and the Kalama Beach access lane, thick with brightly colored bits of plastic. Too bad this isn't the section in front of the President's rental, because that's going to get cleaned up in a jiffy.

From a purely aesthetic point, it was almost pretty, since most of it was uniformly broken into fishtank-gravel-sized pieces, and the predominant colors were green, blue, and white. From an environmental standpoint, it was horrifying.


There was a lot on the sand, and a lot more where that came from. I went to the water to wash the sand off my hand and little bits of plastic generously floated around.


There was another woman- Janice- who had stopped to look at it, as well. We started talking. We saw a turtle in the water, and she had additionally seen crabs trying to eat the plastic.


We talked about letting an environmental group know about it, but that felt stupid, talking about getting other people do so something about it when we could do something ourselves. She was also concerned about working quickly because of the fear that the current would change and take the plastic back out to sea.

If not now, when? If not me, who?

We agreed to meet the following morning with garbage bags. We divided up some rough tasks to get in touch with at least one beach cleanup group, because it would be nice to have more people help.

Courtesy Maile Akita

Courtesy Maile Akita

The next day, I dragged my friend Maile out with me, and we were rewarded with this beautiful double rainbow. We bumped into a woman who had seen the shout-out for help on a Facebook page. The three of us did not make quick work of it. In an hour, we cleaned only a 3 x 3 square foot section of land.

The sand was wet and so using the little sifters I brought were useless. The grains of sand wouldn't fall through it. The plastic pieces were so small, I ended up picking them up with my fingers.

Courtesy Maile Akita

Courtesy Maile Akita

I did not see Janice, but I think she had been out there, because as we left, I saw a lot of plastic debris in the garbage can.

Meanwhile, my e mail to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii yielded me some information and good advice. According to Executive Director Kahi Pacarro, "Microplastic does come from the garbage patch. It is a result of plastic being broken down through the churning of currents, banging against other debris, sun degradation, animal ingestion, and more. If you want to be able to efficiently remove it, you need something like the picture attached. Or on a smaller level, a kitchen colander/strainer. Another trick is to fill a bucket with water and dump the stuff into it. The plastic will float, the sand will sink."

Sand sifters. Courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii

Sand sifters. Courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii

Pacarro told me to Like her group on Facebook to get updates on future cleanups. Meanwhile, my fellow Honolulu Star-Advertiser blogger, features reporter Nina Wu, gave me more names I'd like to share with you:

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii -

The Surfrider Foundation-

Adopt A Beach-, which organizes beach cleanups on a regular basis

Plastic Free Kailua-

"But you don't have to be part of any group to pick up plastic debris - anyone can do it!" Wu encouraged.

"Microplastic is going to continually wash upon our shores for most likely, the rest of our lives," warned Pacarro, whose call to action is for people to please reduce their own use of single-use plastics and getting others to do so.

I myself try not to take more than I need- with anything and everything. With plastics, I shop with canvas bags, decline plastic bags for my takeout containers, carry a travel mug in my car in case I want to buy a drink, and generally just try to opt for any non-plastic alternative where possible. People are always surprised when I prefer to walk off with something in my hand than put it in the plastic bag they're offering, but maybe one day it will be normal and natural for folks.

In general, I don't take things just because they're on sale or free. It takes energy and resources to make a product, and more resources to discard it. If I think I'm not really going to appreciate something, I don't buy or accept it. The bonus is that it is one less dust-collector to take up space in my house.

Marine debris is everyone's problem. Let's all do what we can to take care of the Earth!

Christmas shopping

December 19th, 2012

I'm finally of the stage of parenting where I have to buy specific gifts for children. My daughter's five; old enough to have her brain finally penetrated by toy company marketers.

For Christmas, I found myself in the aisles of Target. (I've also never been to Target in Hawaii!) I was standing there with all the other hapless parents looking for something that our little darlings explicitly asked for.

Previous years were easier as Olivia was younger and didn't care as much about the brand or the exact model. This year, she said she liked Princess Celestia from My Little Pony. My good friend and houseguest Mari Fran brought it out when she came last month, but the pony was pink, and Olivia was slightly disappointed. That was a shock to me that she could be picky about a toy pony.

Courtesy: Hasbro

Courtesy: Hasbro

Olivia claims the true Princess Celestia is white, or at least, turns pink and white in the cartoons. White is her preferred color choice.

Mari Fran had also said finding Princess Celestia at her Texas toy store was difficult, so I can't say I wasn't forewarned about this kind of experience. Now it was me standing in the aisle in Salt Lake and unable to find help in the store, and scanning the aisles feeling lost.

I had gone in thinking it would be a quick in-n-out trip, but early on I realized I was wrong. I struck up a conversation with another mother in the same predicament. We laughed about it and told each other what we were looking for.

"My Little Pony: That's two aisles over near the Legos," she directed. Helpful!

I went over and saw rows and rows of colored ponies. Like Mari Fran discovered, Princess Celestia was only in pink. The only white unicorn, winged horse was Rarity, so I took a chance and bought that. I should mention that Olivia is wrong sometimes about names and such. Like, for a long time she thought the name was Princess Alestia, and argued with me when I tried to correct her.

Also, she coveted our neighbor's Fashion Barbie and requested that, too. When I tried to clarify which fashionable Barbie it is, she insisted there was only one. Now in Target, I find half a dozen. Accuracy: not a strong point yet.

I bought Rarity, and for good measure, I bought three more colors of ponies in the interest of recreating the kingom of Equestria. I'll give that to her on behalf of her grandparents and Santa.

In reviewing this little jaunt, I had no idea a buying trip for children is more like a scavenger hunt. I like shopping enough that I expected it would be fun to look around. It took so long and it was not really enjoyable.

Do you have stories about buying gifts for your kids?


December 17th, 2012

I don't have much to say today that will enlighten the national or global conversation of the Connecticut shooting. Nothing that hasn't already been said by countless other normal, not sociopathic people.

I cry every time I hear the latest update on this story. The news hits me more directly than other stories because the victims were just a year or two older than my daughter, and all the obituaries list personalities and likes that I can relate to as a mother.

Every parent can relate, I'm sure. KITV's Paul Drewes and I were talking about this after his Sunday morning show. "(Co-anchor) Jill (Kuramoto) kept crying during the shooting stories so I had to keep reading the scripts right after," he shared. Paul, Jill, and I all have kids around that age. I would also be crying on air, I'm sure.


Let's be nice to each other today. And every day.

With peace and love, Diane

Inca's teeth

December 14th, 2012

Poor Inca. I took her to the vet for a routine teeth cleaning and she returned home minus two rear molars.

Gum disease. She had lost a molar as a puppy, before I even bought her, due to an accident. Matching upper and lower sets of teeth are important, because the friction of chewing the hard food helps clean the teeth. I learned this the expensive way last week.

She is seven and I have not taken her for a tooth cleaning. I'm pretty good about what I feed my dogs, and Kona never had dental issues in her 13 years. Inca's breath started to stink, so I thought it was time to go in.

The vet called me midday to ask if it was OK to pull two rotting teeth out. Yes, it was. I was surprised but agreed readily. I wasn't going to have the dog suffer, of course, and to my surprise, it only cost another $45 extra (tooth extraction is billed in 15 minute increments.)

Inca's eating soft food all week and about to get an addition to her weekly cleaning schedule of ever-so-delightful tooth brushing. She will love this, I'm sure.

Meantime, Olivia has been fascinated with the teeth. The vet sends you home with the molars that were extracted! It comes in a little pill bottle. I almost fed Inca back her own teeth when I reached for the painkillers and antibiotics this morning. All those bottles, sitting in a cluster on the counter.

At Inca's expense, I've turned this into a teachable moment for our daughter. "This is why you have to brush your teeth every day. Twice a day! Or the dentist will have to pull them out, and you need teeth to eat!"

Olivia is going to take the bottle o' teeth to class for Show & Tell. Inca's misfortune will educate another 22 children on the importance of dental hygiene! Does that mean I've ameliorated the $447 to pull those teeth out?


December 12th, 2012

Olivia is learning to count, add, subtract. It's a cute stage. She gets stuck at random places that are not the same every time. Sometimes, she can't remember what comes after 33. Sometimes, it's what's after 59. So on and so forth.

Definitely, triple digits are not yet in her skill set. At Big City Diner the other night, she must have seen phone numbers or sports scores on TV.

"What's six-seven-seven?" she asked Claus.

"Six hundred and seventy seven," he answered.

"What's eight-zero-zero?" she asked him again.

"Eight hundred," Claus replied.

"What's five-four-two?" she asked once more.

"Five hundred forty two," he patiently said.

She paused. "Whoooooa! You are amazing with math!" she exclaimed.

We laughed. "Yes, he is amazing. And with math," I smiled.

If only keeping our kid in awe would stay this easy!

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