Archive for May, 2016

Corpse flower attracts hundreds to experience its smell

May 16th, 2016

It's a beautiful flower that emits quite an awful smell: the so-called "corpse flower," or Amorphophallus titanium, is attracting hundreds of people to see and smell it. It was just on bloom at Foster Botanical Garden (FBG) in Nu`uanu.


The plant, originally from Sumatra, Indonesia, is such a draw because it only opens up every two to five years. It's a slow grower, too. It takes 10 years to blossom from seed. When it opens, it's just for one or two days.

This novelty is what draws people to line up at the Garden and experience the odor.

FBG horticulturist Scot Mitamura

FBG horticulturist Scot Mitamura

FBG horticulturist Scot Mitamura muses, "Everyone's curious about the smell, but it is the plant kingdom's largest flower and largest leaf, and it only blooms overnight, so it's on a lot of people's bucket list to see."

The smell, described like a rotting fish or dead rat, attracts insects that feed on dead animals. Its aroma gets stronger the later it gets in the night, when carrion beetles and flesh flies are active. The smell then fades as it creeps towards morning.

KHON2's Jai Cunningham was live there on Wake Up 2day on Thursday (May 12), the day it bloomed. As he said on air, from the flower's perspective, "Ha ha. Tricked you into pollinating!" We giggled at his cute description.

The flower is huge. It has a large spathe (the baguette-looking protrusion coming from the middle). The petals are deep red, which adds to the trickery by appearing like dead meat to a beetle.

I had to go check it out. I've been delivering news reports on this unusual flower for 15 years and have never experienced in it person. I tried the last time in 2013, but I was a day late. I was determined not to let that happen this time.

There were a crowd of curious folks standing around a a little line to see it. There were people with fancy cameras and a whole lot of phone cameras pointed at this rock star of a flower.

It's impressively large, and quite pretty. The deep red petals look even more vibrant in person, and the size itself is best appreciated when actually in its presence.

It is shaped like a calla lily, but so much larger. The staff removed a couple of the front petals so people could see the pollination area at the base.

The scent? It didn't knock my socks off. I had heard so much about the "rotting flesh" odor, but I was standing two feet from it and didn't smell anything. I had to move over a couple feet to catch the downwind.


It was somewhat faint, and to me it was like musty cabbage... past-its-prime kim chee. I'm sure, though, time-of-day had a lot to do with it because I was there at 1 p.m. and, as mentioned earlier, it's at its peak overnight. I'm not going to drag myself to stand at the outskirts of the closed garden at midnight, so I'll take Mitamura's word for it.

It takes so much energy to blossom, it even generates heat, which also adds to the illusion of flesh and possibly helps intensify the fragrance. Mitamura explains, "For it to flower, it takes so much energy for the bulb. The top of the spathe heats up to around 96 degrees F - around human skin temperature. There's actually a photo online where it's steaming at the top, but that was in New Hampshire when it was cold."

After the flower dies, one single leaf comes up in its place. It looks like a small tree, but that's actually one big leaf with leaflets at the top.

FBG has three plants on display in different stages of growth. Mitamura stands by the one in the "leaf" phase of its life.

This is one big leaf.

This is one big leaf.

To make his point that it might look like a tree but it's actually not, he knocks on that part that looks like the trunk."It's hollow like a watermelon. Inside, the fiber is like a loofah. This leaf can get up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet around. It's up for six months, absorbing the sun's energy, then it collapses in two to three weeks."

He says a collapsed leaf looks like it just melted. Then what? "All the energy goes into the bulb. It will repeat that cycle several times before it flowers again."


When its ready, it sends a bulb up. He points to the third pot, and this one has a little nub sticking out of the middle. "As the bulb initiates, it stays in that initiation phase for a while, but once it expands it goes really fast."

Apparently, most conservatories have just one corpse flower plant, but FBG is lucky to have ten, which means you're lucky to have more chances to see this rare blossom.

"They bloom between the months that start with A; April and August," he says, hinting that maybe those interested should watch out for a FBG alert about another blossom this summer.

Reach FBG at


Mother's Day reflections: Mom's best lesson to you?

May 11th, 2016

Happy belated Mother's Day! I love my mother so much. She taught me so many things and gave me a good foundation in life. I'm grateful to have her.

Mom & me, Oahu

Mom & me, Oahu

She taught me to live life to the fullest ("Every day is Christmas") but she also taught me to balance that with fiscal responsibility. She makes friends wherever she goes, and I'd like to think she handed at least part of that skill to me.

I'm a mother too, and I asked my eight year old what's the best lesson I've taught her so far. "To write cursive," came the quick answer. We've been working on that recently since she didn't learn it in the third grade. She thinks it's fun.

14-10-30 Mommy hug

Here's how some friends answer that question:


Robert Cazimero- musician, kumu hula, all-around Island institution

"My mom, Elizabeth Cazimero, forced me to play piano in the third grade! She did it with that famous phrase, 'Someday you'll thank me.' I swore over my body I'd never say thank you, and of course look where I am today. I thank her every day."


15-2-20 Di Taizo

With Taizo. We got the green memo.

Taizo Braden- KHON2's Wake Up 2day traffic anchor, Living 808 co-host

"My mother (Sachi Braden) is a well-known businesswoman so our relationship, while great, has always had a business-tinge to it. Even when I was younger, my mom always said, 'Taizo, under-promise but over-deliver. I didn't get it until much later. She's a Realtor, so she said, 'Always be closing!' And she would always say in Japanese, 'Keep one eye on the future with a telescope, and one eye on the present with a microscope.'"


15-9-21 DA-KG-KS black

Kanoe Gibson Nitta- singer, local personality, Miss Hawaii 2003

"There are a lot of valuable lessons I learned from my mom, but probably the biggest lesson is on becoming a better mother. I learned that through watching her be grandmother to my children."



Jennifer Fairbanks- actress, model, Hawaiian Telcom spokesperson, Miss Hawaii USA 2005

"I'm half-Korean and I learned all my cooking from my mom. I love to cook. Her cucumber kim chee is a winner. That's my favorite thing she cooks, and that's what I take to every potluck! It's one of my favorite things about my mom. Food is love, and it's nice to share my Korean heritage through food."

What's the most valuable lesson your mother taught you? Sending all the moms love on this Mother's Day!

Music as medicine

May 9th, 2016

A Hawaii group of holistic healers, cultural practitioners, and musicians blends their acoustic skills into a new CD designed to help heal what ails you. The group believes its album, called Medicine E Merge N Sea Dose, is the first of its kind in a new genre that could be called healing sound.

"Music is healing. Certain vibrations are cohesive with joy and optimal performance, and we've carefully put together an assortment of sound tracks designed to resonate with a person's brain waves to uplift your spirit or even, going deeper, vibrate the very cells in your body to fight illness - like cancer!" asserts executive producer Katie Fisher.

The album starts with a opening chant, and the five other tracks are infused with different intentions and themes. Fisher plays me a few and describes them: "This one is supposed to inspire deep meditation," she says of a slow, haunting, didgeridoo layered song with a haunting melody.

Another one is a quicker, upbeat, flute-dominated piece that Fisher elucidates is meant to call to mind images of sunshine piercing the deep jungle canopy.

Most importantly, she emphasizes, all of the music is created with an intention of bringing the listener unconditional love, light, and healing.

"If you've had a bad day, if you're feeling down, we hope you put on this music and let it reset you. It can be as simple as one track. Taking the time to reset your breathing will help you move away from the flight-or-flight response to a calm, productive rest-and-digest mindset. When you calm the parasympathetic nervous system, you are calmer," she explains.

But it's not all about mind-over-matter. The music, she believes, can also fight real medical issues.

"If you have an illness, we believe this can help. Some of the tracks are harmonious, but some create a dissonant sound. That is an annoying frequency that can bust through undesired cells in the body to help promote wellness," she states.

Fisher likens it best to a common medical method of removing kidney stones. It's called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), and it uses shock waves created outside the body, to travel through the skin and tissues until they hit the stones and fragment them.

She is careful to remind the reader to use this in supplement to one's approved medical treatment, not in place of.

Healing Sound School in session. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

Healing Sound School in session. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

Medicine E Merge N Sea Dose came about organically. "I'm part of the Healing Sound School, formed in 2014, which is a group of people who enjoy coming together to play various instruments and just make beautiful music. Some play traditional Western instruments, some play indigenous instruments like singing bowls, rattles, or sitars. Some don't play instruments, but are chanters. Some people simply bring their love of music and contribute by clapping and laughing," she tells me.

Didgeridoo. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

Didgeridoo. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

Over time, the group realized the sound was uplifting and healing in many ways. One of its members is a recording engineer and thought it would be meaningful to capture the sound to share with the rest of the community. As a labor of love, he recorded the group in early 2015 and spent the next year finalizing the tracks to digital form.

Studio recording. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

Studio recording. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

"We view this as energy medicine. Music is frequency, and all bodies vibrate at a certain rate. If you're out of sync, you can use this to tune into a healthy, natural pattern. It's about getting in balance with yourself so that you can spread that feeling outward and help create a world that's a calmer place," she declares.

Recording a chant. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

Recording a chant. Courtesy: Katie Fisher

An emergency dose of E Merge N Sea is, she hopes, can help get there.

More at

Explaining rejection to a child

May 6th, 2016

The letter came in the mail. We all suspected this was coming, but we all hoped - Olivia  most of all - that it would say otherwise.

She was not accepted to Kamehameha Schools for the fourth grade year. It was crushing.


We're crushed to see her crushed. I hate these moments as a parent.

We had prepped her that the competition was stiff, and that even with amazing test scores, the odds of its quota system were still high: 1,008 applicants, and just 64 openings.

That's a six percent chance to get in. Those are stupid odds. The only odds I've heard of that are worse are for CNN, which my friends in Atlanta tell me is a ratio of 1,000 resumes for every one on-air position.

It's a difficult place to be. In order to get her excited to do her best, we had to sell the school to her. Otherwise, she didn't want to leave her current school and friends. Ever since we tested in January, she'd been asking regularly when she'd know.

I understand the feeling. I recently attempted something I wanted badly, and though I tried to endure the process with detachment, it's hard not to get your hopes up. I couldn't explain the concept of detachment to an eight year old, so her process was even harder than mine.

She moped when she came home. She asked questions about why she wasn't good enough. Her dad gave her all the right answers and made her a smoothie. It helped, but still the long face.

I decided to show her something. I have saved most of my TV rejection letters since the start of my career. I say most, because there was a busy period where I know I forgot to save one or two dozen letters.


At first, it was just a way to track which stations I applied to, since most times they don't even bother to respond. That's how you know in TV news that you didn't make the cut.

Seriously, it's nice he even wrote back.

Seriously, it's nice he even wrote back.


So a lot of the papers are actually my notes and lists on when I sent in a resume, so that I would know to follow up. But let's just call them "letters" for short.


After a while, though, I decided to save it as a testament to perseverance; a symbol to myself that hard work pays off, that I needed to keep believing in myself, and that for every 20 no's there is a yes.

As I've blogged before, I knew I wanted to be a reporter, and that was that. I wasn't going to let a little (actually, a lot of) rejection divert my plans. This was the career I wanted, and I was going to have it.

Over the years, as I developed success and still occasionally filed a letter in the folder, I also started seeing it as a humility check. In a job defined by lights, cameras, and a high-profile, I never wanted to become someone who thought they were "all that."

Perhaps now, because I've been on air in this one town for over a decade, I have a modicum of name-recognition. I don't ever want that to get to my head.

I generally presume you don't know me unless you indicate you do. Not everyone watches TV, and not everyone has lived in Hawaii for years.

It's fun, and it's a privilege to experience, but the file takes me back to my beginnings, when doors shut on my face all the time. Remember who you are: you're just a person with a job.

But I digress. Back to Olivia.

She always tells me she thinks I have an amazing job. The entire time she's known me, I've always been an established newscaster. She has never seen the struggle.


I held her rejection letter in one hand, my file in the other. It's almost an inch thick. It's impressive! Her eyes widened when I presented it.

"Just because you didn't get into one school, it's OK. It doesn't mean you're not worthy. It just means you need to stick to your goals and try harder. Don't give up," I encouraged.

I explained to her that in my follow ups, I'd ask the manager what they didn't like about my resume and how I could improve. Then I'd work on that so the next station might want me.

I really appreciate any manager who took the time to give me feedback!

I really appreciate any manager who took the time to give me feedback!

"That's what you need to do. Keep being the best student you can be," I said. "Then next time you try for a school, you have a better chance. And always believe in yourself, because we believe in you."

The only handwritten rejection I ever received, and he was so nice. This is my favorite.

The only handwritten rejection I ever received, and he was so nice. This is my favorite.

It perked her up a little, but she said she was still kind of sad.

"That's normal. It's OK. You sit with that for a little while, but then you use it to make you stronger. You tried, you didn't get what you wanted, but you'll pick yourself up and figure out what you need to do to get what you want. Mommy and Daddy are proud of you for trying, and we're always here to help you dust yourself off and support you," I soothed.

That seemed to do the trick. She said seeing my file was both a shocker and helpful.

Then it was back to her smoothie, which in its own way was just as wonderful a Band-Aid as my pep talk. There ain't nothing a lovely dessert can't cure, right?

...How have you handled your child's rejection? What did you tell them? (Give me more tips for next time, because I know there's got to be a next time down the road!)



A coloring book for women to relax and recharge

May 4th, 2016

My daughter and I are into sketching. Actually, it was she who got me into it, as I like to try to partake in the activities she likes. I ended up liking it way more than I expected.

It seems like the adult coloring book craze started a couple years ago. I've seen a handful of news stories about how coloring is relaxing and meditative.

Courtesy: Kim Weiss

Courtesy: Kim Weiss

When the makers of the coloring book Inkspirations for Women ( offered to send me a sample, I agreed to give it a try.  It's a natural extension of my interest in art on paper.

Believe it or not, scientists have studied coloring, and they've found that it quiets your mind, calms your thoughts, reduces stress, and allows you to simply be. Research shows that coloring can induce a kind of 'flow,' or active meditation, during which you lose your sense of time and your brain waves fall into a calming rhythm. As a result, worries fade away and creative blocks can become wellsprings of ideas.

I looked in the book, and I love the quotes and designs! So uplifting! Here's my favorites:

IMG_0601 IMG_0600


I guess Marci Shimoff know's what she's doing. She's a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a transformational teacher, and says she's an expert on happiness, success and unconditional love. Among other things, she co-authored six titles in the Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul series, and is a featured teacher in The Secret.

Marci Shimoff. Courtesy: Kim Weiss

Marci Shimoff. Courtesy: Kim Weiss

I'm totally looking forward to coloring this - and I might not even share with my kid!

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