Archive for February, 2016

Pieology pizza chain opens first Hawaii restaurant

February 29th, 2016

If you can build it, will people come? The Pieology pizza chain owner is expecting that to be a big yes for a new Hawaii location.

Cotti Foods executives: owner/president Pete Capriotti, COO Steve Dees, VP marketing/communications Shane Gray

Cotti Foods executives: owner/president Pete Capriotti, COO Steve Dees, VP marketing/communications Shane Gray

Pieology, with its build-your-own artisan pizza concept, is testing this philosophy with a February 28 opening in Aina Haina Shopping Center, though plans are already in the works to open "about 19 or 20 more in Hawaii in the next five years," expands Shane Gray, the vice president of marketing and communications for Cotti Foods, the corporate franchisee of about 110 Wendy's, Taco Bells, and Pieologies across the West Coast.


He explains that owner and president Pete Capriotti studied the market based on how well his Wendy's performed in this state. "Cotti Foods owns all the Wendy's in Hawaii," Gray explains.

Me with morning show colleague Taizo Braden

Me with morning show colleague Taizo Braden

Over the next decade, Capriotti plans to open "30 to 40 more Pieology restaurants in Southern California, where we're based," reveals Gray.


By the looks of things at a media preview the day before the grand opening, Cotti Foods did its homework well. People looked happy. Kids looked happy. As I waited for my husband to arrive, I noticed a handful of curious passers-by wanting to go in and eat.


Once inside, this is how it works:

1. Choose your favorite crust – including a gluten-free option.

2. Select your sauce (House Red, 3-Cheese Alfredo, Herb Butter, Olive Oil, Fiery Buffalo, Pesto and BBQ).

3. Choose from five different cheeses and ten meat toppings including local favorites such as Portuguese Sausage, Spam, and Kalua Pork.

4. Stack your toppings (Black Olives, Mushrooms, Red Onions, Green Peppers, Artichokes, Tomatoes, Garlic, Pineapple, Jalapenos, Corn, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Cilantro, Spinach, Banana Peppers, Fresh Basil, Roasted Red Peppers).

The 11.5 inch pizzas are cooked in an open-flame, hearth stone, 800-degree deck oven; ready to eat within five minutes, and delivered to your table.


It really was fast, easy, and tasty. My daughter liked it so much, she actually ordered a second pizza, which is very unusual for her to eat that much. We were all very pleased with our choices.

Me with radio DJ, actor, comedian, wine maker, and chef Lanai Tabura

Me with radio DJ, actor, comedian, wine maker, and chef Lanai Tabura

It's also got a liquor license so it serves beer and wine, and though I really don't drink much anymore, I noticed it was a very popular menu offering.

PR agent Mona Wood-Sword and Shane Gray

PR agent Mona Wood-Sword and Shane Gray

Me with MidWeek's chief photographer Nathalie Walker

Me with MidWeek's chief photographer Nathalie Walker

I'm not a restaurateur, but I have a feeling this is going to do really well. Sure, Husband and I enjoyed it - the food, the atmosphere, the friendly staff, the convenient location. But here's what really sells it for this mom:

"Mommy! We have to come back here! I love this pizza!"

Yup. That's the real secret to marketing, isn't it?

Me with Hilton Hawaiian Village's region director of PR Cynthia Rankin

Me with Hilton Hawaiian Village's region director of PR Cynthia Rankin

Four new algae species discovered in Hawaii’s deep waters

February 26th, 2016

Scientists working with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced the discovery of four new species of deep-water algae from Hawaiʻi. Marine algae, or limu, are very important in Hawaiian culture, used in foods, ceremonies and as adornments in traditional hula. The new species of limu were collected between 200-400 feet, depths not typically known for marine algae.

New species of deep-water algae Ulva ohiohilulu collected by a submersible of the Hawaiʻi Undersea Research Laboratory at 304 feet from west Maui. Courtesy: HURL archives, 2009

New species of deep-water algae Ulva ohiohilulu collected by a submersible of the Hawaiʻi Undersea Research Laboratory at 304 feet from west Maui. Courtesy: HURL archives, 2009

Heather Spalding, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaiʻi Department of Botany and lead author of the study, said, “I was astounded at the abundance and size of these algae, which resembled something you would see in a shallow-water lagoon, not at 400 feet.”

Dr. Heather Spalding processes a limu specimen at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Courtesy: Daniel Wagner/NOAA, 2013

Dr. Heather Spalding processes a limu specimen at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Courtesy: Daniel Wagner/NOAA, 2013

Spalding has been collaborating with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for several years, studying samples collected by NOAA divers working in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. She and her colleagues at the University of Hawaiʻi and University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories conducted DNA analyses that showed the species are very different than those found in Hawaii’s shallow waters, even though they are very similar in appearance.

“If you picked up one of these algae on the beach, you couldn’t tell if it was from a nearby rock or washed up from the deep, the species look that similar,” Spalding said.

The new algae species Umbraulva kuaweuweu collected from 277 ft depth from Lisianski, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Courtesy: NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

The new algae species Umbraulva kuaweuweu collected from 277 ft depth from Lisianski, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Courtesy: NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

The newly discovered species are similar in appearance to limu pālahalaha (Ulva lactuca), or sea lettuce. Scientists consulted with the Native Hawaiian community to develop meaningful names for the new species to honor the importance they have in Hawaiian culture. One species was named Ulva iliohaha, which refers to the foraging behavior of ʻīlioholoikauaua, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, one of the best-known residents of Papahānaumokuākea.

The species were sampled during surveys between 2013 and 2015 in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument by NOAA divers using advanced SCUBA diving technologies, and during past NOAA expeditions from 2006 to 2014 throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands using submersibles operated by the Hawaiʻi Undersea Research Laboratory. Scientists anticipate many additional new species of algae will be described in the coming years from samples collected by NOAA divers on future expeditions to the monument.

“These findings redefine our understanding of algal distributions in Hawaiʻi, and hint at the great number of other new species likely to be discovered in the future from these amazing deep-water reefs,” said Daniel Wagner, Papahānaumokuākea research specialist with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The study describing the new species of limu was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Phycology. The article, titled “New Ulvaceae (Ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta) from mesophotic ecosystems across the Hawaiian Archipelago,” is featured as the journal’s cover story and can be accessed in its entirety at

Talk Story Sessions Set for Rodent and Mongoose Control and Eradication Methods to Protect Native Habitats

February 24th, 2016

Do you have a problem with rats or mongooses? You can tell the state about it, so officials can better craft a plan to control them.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will hold a series of talk story sessions about methods to control and eradicate invasive rodents and mongooses to protect native species in Hawaii.

The agencies are co-leads in developing a draft programmatic environmental impact statement, which will analyze the impacts of and alternatives to controlling these invasive animals for the protection of native wildlife, plants, and habitats that support them.

“Introduced rodents and mongooses in Hawaii pose a significant threat to many of Hawaii’s native plants and animals,” said Suzanne Case, Chairperson of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. “It is important we have a discussion with a wide variety of interested people so we can comprehensively address the damage these rodents and mongoose have on Hawaii’s ecology, culture, and way of life.”

“We really want to hear what communities would like us to consider in this analysis, including what methods should be considered and what are some alternatives,” said Mary Abrams, Field Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Methods to control rodents and mongooses in urban and agricultural areas currently exist, but those tools and methods aren’t always effective or available for use in conservation areas.  This process will look at rodent and mongoose control efforts worldwide, and document the most appropriate ones that could be used in Hawaii.”

The talk story sessions will be held on the following dates and islands:
• Oahu from 6:30 to 8 p.m.:
o February 25 (Thursday) at the McKinley High School cafeteria located at 1039 S King
St, Honolulu, HI 96814
o March 17 (Thursday) at Hale Ponoi located at 91-5420 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, HI
• Molokai from 5:30 to7:30 p.m. on March 1 (Tuesday) at the Mitchell Pauole Center located at 90
Ainoa Street, Kaunakakai, HI 96748
• Lanai from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on March 3 (Thursday) at Lanai Public Library located at 555
Fraser Ave, Lanai City, HI 96763
• Kauai from 6 to 8 p.m.:
o March 7 (Monday) at the Waimea Neighborhood Center at 4556 Makeke Road, Waimea,
HI 96796
o March 8 (Tuesday) at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School Cafeteria at 4431 Nuhou
Street, Lihue, HI 96766
• Maui from 6 to 8 p.m.:
o March 10 (Thursday) at Lahaina Civic Center at 1840 Honoapiilani Hwy, Lahaina, HI
o March 11 (Friday) at Kahului Community Center at 275 Uhu Street, Kahului, HI 96732
• Hawaii Island from 6 to 8 p.m.:
o March 14 (Monday) at University of Hawaii-Hilo, College of Tropical Agriculture and
Human Resources, Komohana Research and Extension Center (conference rooms A
and B) located at 875 Komohana Street, Hilo, HI 96720
o March 15 (Tuesday) at West Hawaii Community Center located at 74-5044 Ane
Keohokalole Highway, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.
In addition to these talk story sessions, the public is invited to submit written comments through April 7.  Comments may be made to either agency for joint consideration in the following ways:
• Electronically: Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2015–0026.
• U.S. Mail: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R1–ES–2015–0026; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.
• Website: click on “Get Involved” and enter a comment.
Once the comment period closes, both agencies will review the comments and begin development of the document. For the Service, comments previously submitted during the first comment period do not need to be resubmitted.

The draft programmatic environmental impact statement will be published in both the Federal Register and the Environmental Notice and provide another public comment period for review. For more information: or

For more information on The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit, or through social media channels at,, or

Windward mom works through struggles to find joy

February 22nd, 2016

Life is struggle. That's what Kealoha* has known for all of her 32 years. The earliest years were the worst.

"My father hit my mother all the time, and they were both on drugs. He was in music, and there were a lot of parties in that industry. I remember getting up in the middle of the night and nobody would be home. My older brother and I would have no idea where they were," she recalls.

It was up to her brother, then about six years old, to care for them. She was about three. More days than they care to remember, he would feed them breakfast and walk them to school. "He would drop me off at preschool and then get himself to his school. It was about a mile walk," Kealoha relives.

They wouldn't see their parents until they came home from school. She sums up, "I just remember being scared all the time. I blocked out a lot because it was so horrible. It was always just us, and we're close today."

She remembers the ambulance coming over to take her mother away after many fights. "I remember seeing her in the back of the ambulance and her face being all purple," describes Kealoha. The worst was when her father threw her mother off the second floor balcony of the apartment they lived in.

Kealoha was five. Their mother was hospitalized for weeks and the apartment evicted the family, so their mother's mother took them in.

The fall damaged her mother's back so badly she could never work again, and suffers back pain to this day. That was nearly 20 years ago. Kealoha's mother has been living off Social Security checks.

Her parents reunited, but this time without the approval of the families. Banned from both grandparents' homes, they had nowhere to live, so they found themselves in a tent at Waimanalo Beach for a year. "It sucked. I was always cold and hungry. There were lots of drunk and crazy people around us at night. My brother and I had to walk to school," she flashes back.

There are lapses in her memory due to the trauma, but at some point, her paternal grandmother took Kealoha, her brother, and her mother in. Her father was not welcomed.

During this time of separation, their father would come by the house to visit the children, but his parents would always chase him away. "I remember my parents were fighting, and he asked me to come outside to see him. My grandmother wouldn't let me, so he finally left. That was the last time I saw him alive," Kealoha recollects. She was six.

She learned later that day, police arrested him for theft of items which included a coloring book. He hung himself in jail. "I felt guilt for decades because that book was probably for me," she reveals. "I always blamed myself. I thought maybe if they divorced, my dad would still be alive."

Kealoha's mother numbed her pain by staying "always high on painkillers." She quickly found and moved in with a new boyfriend on Hawaii Island. He was equally as abusive as her husband. "He beat her all the time. Every time seemed like the worst. He broke her arm once," recounts Kealoha.

She was now seven years old, and thought the abuse was her fault. She tried to sleep at friends' homes to avoid going to hers.

"Second and third grade were a blur. I was always on the run, hiding from him. If we were bad, he'd make us kneel on raw rice on the corner for hours, or hit us on the back of the legs with a fly swatter. If my mother tried to intervene, he'd hit her."

Her mother finally left this boyfriend about a year later, and moved back to Oahu into the maternal grandmother's house again. That, too, was short lived. Less than two years later, this grandmother died of cancer, and the family was about to become homeless again, unable to afford the rent using just her mother's Social Security income.

Again, Kealoha's mother self-medicated on a "drug binge" before simply walking out on the children. "She left one night and didn't come home. After a few days, my brother called my paternal grandmother, and she came to get us.

From fifth to seventh grade, Kealoha and her brother lived with their grandmother. One day, two years later, her mother  reappeared. Kealoha still has no idea where her mother went during this time, but her mother took the children and moved them back in to her abusive ex-boyfriend's Big Island house, because they'd reconciled.

"I hated it. I moved in with an aunt for most of seventh grade, then begged my grandparents to take me in. She felt she was too old to raise a child, but finally agreed, so I lived with them from eighth grade through my senior year of high school," she states.

Her brother chose to stay on Hawaii Island and look after their mother, who eventually left the abusive boyfriend, only to replace him with a new man who also hit her.

Two years passed. Kealoha was now in the ninth grade when her mother, her mother's boyfriend, and her brother came to visit for the weekend. "My mother and her boyfriend said they were going to run errands, and never came back. After two days, my grandmother realized she would be raising my brother, too."

The trauma, the instability, and the guilt over her father's suicide created a deep depression, and by high school, Kealoha started dealing with the pain by cutting herself "with razors, with anything I could get my hands on." She holds out her forearms to show me the scars.

The school noticed and assigned her to a therapist, Miss Pam, for anger management. It was a pivotal time for Kealoha, who learned to let go of the grief and guilt. She's still grateful to this adult who cared.

At age 17, she started dating a classmate and moved in with his family, where she remains to this day. She dropped out of high school and has been working ever since.

A few years later, Kealoha became pregnant with their first child. She didn't want children and some early medical problems indicated she could never bear a child, but at age 20, she got pregnant.

"The happiest moment of my life was when he was born. I just saw life differently. I wanted to give him the life I never had," she affirms.

It also helped her find peace with her mother. "I hadn't seen my mother for nine years, but I kept tabs on her through my brother. I wanted her to meet my son, so I flew her to Oahu."

Her mother apologized profusely for all the mistakes of the past. "I forgave her. I was a mother now. I understood her struggles better, of raising children and trying to balance your life, and it was OK. I got it." Now they speak or visit weekly.

In 2007, she had a second child, a girl. That's when her relationship with her boyfriend started to crumble into disinterested roommate status. "I love him, but I'm fed up. I'm tired. We live with his parents, but I do all the work. I cook and clean. I care for the kids." She attributes it to the stress of having two children.

She says her boyfriend has a major gambling problem, such that he is in debt and didn't contribute to the children's Christmas gifts last year, nor does he pay on the rare times they go out. Mostly, she says, he's absent. "I tell him, 'I wish you were in jail so I'd at least know where you are.'"

Kealoha has warned her boyfriend if she had someplace to go, she wouldn't be there. But there is no place right now.

For someone without a high school diploma, she found herself a relatively well-paying job, though it's labor-intensive (lifting 50 pounds sacks) and she's on her feet all day. The hours coincide with the school day, and she chauffeurs her children to activities after-school before going home to the homework/ dinner routine.

"I'm sad, sometimes. I'm tired of struggle. I never thought I'd end up like this. I imagined myself childless, living in Manhattan, reporting for the New York Times. Yet here I am on this rock, after all these years," she sighs.

Kealoha has never left this state, and dreams one day to take herself and her children to Disneyland.

Despite the many hardships, she asserts she wouldn't change a thing. "It's made me who I am, and I like to take care of people. I might like to be a teacher now, help kids, especially those who have a hard life."

Kealoha maintains she learned from her parents' missteps, so she doesn't drink, do drugs, or abuse or neglect her loved ones. She won't even take aspirin for a headache. She has no criminal record.

She gives what she can to those in need, even though she lives paycheck to paycheck herself. She's hyper-responsible, caring for her grandparents until their death.

She's tired, but she does it for her children. "If I don't do it, who else will? I want to give my children what I didn't have growing up. I want them to live in one house, go to one school, know stability. As a child, I had friends with loving homes. I've created that for my family now."

Kealoha also found inspiration through her children to complete her high school education and get her GED in 2003. "When I had my first child, I knew I had to do more. I didn't want to be just another statistic. Maybe one day I'll have the time to go to college. I think about it a lot. I regret that I didn't," she declares.

She's extremely proud of her GED. The diploma is in a special hardcover frame, and she adds with delight that she scored a 97% on her test.

What I find most amazing about this woman is how positive she is, given the amount of trauma visited upon her in her youth, and the disappointment and fatigue of her current situation. She is someone I know through our children, and she is never without a smile. She is kind and caring, and I would have never guessed any of this if she hadn't told me.

"My children are everything," she expresses. "They are both amazing in different ways. My son is caring, sensitive, and always knows how I feel. My daughter is bright, brilliant, and popular. She's going to get the college scholarship and become a doctor. She's going to travel the world. She really wants to leave Hawaii. My son doesn't, and he's going to be the one taking care of me in my old age!"

For now, she lives life through her children. And she waits with hope and faith for what life brings next.

*Name changed to protect her privacy.

Secondhand shampoo

February 19th, 2016

I have a shampoo my friend gave me, and it's expensive. I already could tell from the bottle, but also, this is a high-class friend who only gives pricey presents. Then, to cement that, she actually said when she gave it to me that it's special.

I started using it and it really isn't that fantastic, at least not for my hair. It says it's for all hair types (and it's "anti-aging" which is a title I had no idea could apply to hair products) but it just doesn't work for me.

My hair feels heavy and still full of product after I use it. I think it's because I have thick Chinese hair.

I finally told Claus, "My new shampoo is junk. I'm going to give it to you." Way to sell it, Me.

He looked at me and with typical sarcasm, declared, "Wooooow, thanks! How lucky!"

"I mean, I think it's meant for fine hair, like yours," I backpedaled.

In an effort to convince him I wasn't offloading junk on him, I even looked it up. "It's $54. It must be good. Just try it and tell me if it works for you," as I placed it on his bathroom counter.

He acquiesced and gave me something back: advice to keep my day job because I would not be able to sell water to a man in the desert.

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