Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Beginnings and endings- signing off, from Diane

October 5th, 2016

Is it just me, or do there seem to be a lot of endings this year? I'm not sure if I am more aware now because I'm a housewife with more time to talk to friends and to reflect, but it sure feels like a lot of people are closing up chapters in their lives.

I've heard about divorces, quittings, relocations, and deaths. Five friends or acquaintances of mine died this year.

Bridging the transition! Photo: Sisto Domingo

Bridging the transition! Photo: Sisto Domingo

A friend who likes numerology, Melissa Kurpinski, pointed out 2016 is a "nine" year, and that nine is the end of a cycle. You add 2 + 1 + 6 = 9. She said this to me in January and I've thought about it every time I hear about another closure.

At my former job as a newscaster.

At my former job as a newscaster.

My endings: I left my KHON2 news job over the summer, and today I stop writing for this paper. Management told me the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is effectively closing its blogging department, so I will write the end of this chapter, too.

It's been a really fun seven and a half years as a blogger, and I thank the newspaper for having me. I love writing as therapy, though I wasn't sure when I started what it would be like to commit to a regular writing schedule for a column that was essentially - to borrow from Seinfeld - all about nothing. Turns out it was a joy!

I wrote about professional musician Trey Terada, aka Dr. Trey

I wrote about professional musician Trey Terada, aka Dr. Trey

I made Small Talk with you, and some of you chatted back - thanks! Whatever seemed interesting, whoever seemed interesting, I wrote about. I enjoyed it, and I hope you did, too. Thanks for stopping by.

You accompanied me through three jobs and two housewife stints (KHNL, Halekulani, KHON2), through my child's early life (I'm now halfway through my legal obligation!), and on journeys real and philosophical. I appreciate you for listening.

The kind folks at Hawaii: In Real Life ( offered to host me, so I'll have a page there. I won't have a set schedule. I'll post when I want, and then I'll post a link to my social media to let you know something's up.

With this year's haul.

With this year's haul.

2010 awards with my video partner Tracy Arakakai

2010 awards with my video partner Tracy Arakakai

Along the way, I'm proud to say this online column (often with the help of my video partner Tracy Arakaki) won a dozen awards from the Society of Professional Journalists' Hawaii chapter, and one Emmy nod:   - Kendo practitioner and butterfly farmer  - pregnant pro surfer
- Wolf the blade smith

Back CameraTracy shooting Wolf the blade smith.

Tracy shooting Wolf the blade smith. - candy art - this also got an Emmy nomination!

- Modern Cowboys


Jai Cunningham

I wrote about KHON2's Jai Cunningham - profiles on Jai & Trey



Life changes. You just flow with it. It's all OK.

The end of one story is just the beginning of a new one. May we all find ourselves in an excellent new story. With aloha, Diane

Photo: Russ Tanoue

Photo: Russ Tanoue

You can still find me on Facebook: Diane Ako, Instagram: diane_ako, Twitter: Diane Ako, or

PS: Shortly, comments here will probably not be moderated. Perhaps you can share your opinion on one of my social media accounts. Thanks!

Posted in Career | 7 Comments »

Aiea crystal shop "rocks"!

October 4th, 2016

Aiea, apparently, is Where Crystals Rock. That's the name of a new-ish store that features a marvelous selection of crystals, fossilized rocks, meteorites, and some spiritual tools.

Helen Uyehara and Cookie of Where Crystals Rock in Aiea

Helen Uyehara and Cookie of Where Crystals Rock in Aiea

I first learned about it by reading this paper's "5 Things We Love" feature, and knew I had to check it out. My daughter and I share a love for all things shiny!

Ooh! The things you learn from reading the paper!

Ooh! The things you learn from reading the paper!

Olivia and I were not disappointed. In a small, welcoming, and blissfully air conditioned shop in Harbor Center, co-owner Helen Uyehara and her dog Cookie greeted us cheerfully. Turns out I know Helen from church, but that's a whole different story.


Helen opened her shop in 2014 as a post-retirement hobby. She's always loved gems. "I took lapidary courses in my youth, so I learned to cut and polish stones. I've had a lifelong fascination with crystals and gems," she shares.

She started testing the waters back in 2010, by selling crystals out of her house and hosting open houses. In 2014, after leaving a career with the State, she went into business with her niece, Mika Pantaleo.


Helen goes on buying trips twice a year, to gem shows in Denver and Tucson (ooh! I want to come!). Sounds glamorous, but she jokes that it's actually a little tiring to buy for everyone else but yourself.

img_2375 img_2372

She sure has learned a lot, though. Names of stones, spiritual meanings. Just that alone could take quite some time; she tells me there are more than 3,000 kinds of minerals!

img_2378 img_2371

"I consider crystals like Earth's blossoms. On land, there are flowers that bloom. And when you look into the Earth, gems are the beautiful things you find," Helen says.

The most popular sellers are amethyst, rose quartz, and Labradorite, though her favorites are rutilated quartz and pyrite. "It seems to me that people are more spiritual now, and crystals have a calming effect. They're said to have certain energies that benefit the wearer, but it could be as simple as wearing it and reminding yourself of your intention," she says.

Our stuff!

Our stuff!img_2386

I went just because I was curious, but left with a bunch of stuff. Olivia wanted a pretty wire gem tree, a citrine necklace, and a glittery goldstone. I got a gemstone cage and stones to put inside it, and bracelets of agar wood and Labradorite.

img_2376 img_2374

The price range is very reasonable, from $1.50 single rocks to $3,950 for large amethyst geodes. There are necklaces, pendants, wind chimes, jewelry, strands of gems, and much more. One regular customer tells me she thinks Where Crystals Rock has the best gem selection on Oahu.


Locally made Aloha Elixir candles and sprays

Cleansing tools include smudge sticks, candles, and sprays, though the focus of the store is on the rocks.

We get caught up in just looking and looking at all the pretty delights. Even my long-suffering husband decided he could't beat us, so he joined us in enjoying shopping. (Those crystals must really be calming!)


We also all enjoyed talking to Helen. She's extremely sweet, knowledgeable, and delightful to be around.

"This is my new favorite store!" Olivia declared.

I have to agree. It's pretty rockin'.



Harbor Center (behind Cutter Ford)
98-025 Hekaha Street, Bldg 4, Unit 10


Just after the Harbor Center entrance, Building 4 is on the left. It's kind of across Rainbow Gymnastics. It's easy to miss because the building is behind you as you drive in and you don't see it until you drive out.

If you're worried about hitting HART construction traffic for the rail, go on a Sunday when it's tolerable.


Life in the slow lane

September 16th, 2016

Most people aspire to have a fancy sports car that goes from zero to 60 mph in three seconds. I currently aspire to the '98 Toyota Tercel - in a metaphorical sense.

My life went so fast when I was anchoring in TV news. The morning show was a blur. The day was a blur. My existence was a blur. It all eventually ran together indistinguishably.

These are my feelings about a particular work schedule at a specific time in my life. It was a unique situation. It took all elements of my life to come together to create this perfect storm.

Now my imaginary Tercel is puttering along in the slow lane. I'm audacious enough to even drive five miles under the speed limit and irritate all the other commuters on the road.

I get up when I want, I do what I want, and I feel no obligation to do anything most days. If I want to figure out how to delete songs off my iTunes for two hours, I do that.

If I want to take Inca to the beach in the middle of the day, I do that. I spent an hour looking at Katy Perry music videos once.


What I do a lot of, which I find peaceful, is staring at nature. I sit on my balcony and look at the trees, the mountains, the clouds, the birds. I think about the Earth spinning slowly on its axis, and feel like I'm spinning slower and slower on mine.

I see neighborhood cats wandering around, I hear chickens, and I observe the geckos.

I am, to my surprise, way more familiar with gecko behavior than I ever expected I could be. I watch them defend their territory, fight (they stand up sideways on one front and one hind leg to appear bigger), and mate.

I am familiar with the pets' morning routine. Apparently, Inca developed an annoying habit of barking at precisely 8 a.m. until our neighbor comes over with a snack. Inca has Vicki well-trained.

Our cat eats breakfast then scoots over to Vicki's to steal Pretty Boy's leftovers. She doesn't return home until midday, when she goes into the loft for her nap.

I know when the flowers bloom on the Manila palms and I watch the bees come pollinate every morning. Sometimes there's one large anole lizard who creeps among the buds to quietly sun.

Bulbuls, ringnecked doves, Japanese white-eyes, red-crested cardinals, Java sparrows, and the occasional pigeon live in the trees around us. I like to listen to them and watch them at all times of day.

I like that these are the things I know about now. I feel quiet and calm. Gecko fighting is all the drama I want to witness.

Nothing lasts forever. This phase will pass. For now, though, I've pulled my figurative car into the scenic lookout and I'm enjoying the view.

Posted in Career | 7 Comments »

The Coach of Nothing

September 12th, 2016

If you noticed, I capitalized Coach and Nothing in the headline. That's because it's a title I'm giving myself. It's my new job path.

Some people are Life Coaches. I'm going to be a Nothing Coach. People can pay me... for nothing!

There's a new-ish competition in South Korea that rewards doing nothing. The person who can space out the longest, wins.

I'm not sure what they win, but in a culture that values competitiveness, I'm sure bragging rights is just fine.

It started in 2014, and according to, participants "adhere to rules that disallowed phones, talking, checking your watches and dozing off." There's even a panel of judges watching to make sure you follow the rules.

I know this will go over big in America. First, I need to organize a contest for the US to raise awareness for this new sport. I will call it "Spacing Out: The Final Frontier- presented by Diane Ako, Coach of Nothing."

If nothing else, I've learned from my PR days to make sure to work my sponsorship into the official name. Ha! Now you have to say my business name every time you report about it!

My company mission statement: "Why be a hero when you can do zero?"

You can get people to do anything as long as you call it a contest. Think of the weird ones that already exist: The Beard and Moustache Contest, Worm Charming Championships, Baby Crying Challenges, Toe Wrestling, Bee Wearing, and Nailympia, "the Olympics of Nails," to name a few. I don't make this up.

The Korean rules sound reasonable. I'll borrow that, but I'm going to add a level of difficulty. The second phase will include distractions to tempt you, like snacks, drinks, or the Olympic Tongan flag bearer.

My coaching technique will borrow from my own life experiences. It will include making you babysit a room full of toddlers all by yourself for a week. You will have lost your mind and then you will need a long stretch of space to do the Thousand Mile Stare while you recover your energy.

You will be still sitting on the lawn staring into space when the organizers are taking down the event signs and the judges' table. Someone will go back out there the next morning and find you still sitting there.

In keeping with the contest theme, we will not give away a prize. You win... nothing!

So, who's with me? Team Ako! Here goes nothing!

Posted in Career | 3 Comments »

The World's Third Coolest Mom

September 7th, 2016

The latest ratings are in, and I've apparently fallen in the rankings from World's Coolest to World's Third Coolest Mom. I'm... stunned.

It started this way: I told Olivia if she is really good for a month, she can have a bona fide slumber party with more than one girlfriend over! She got very excited.

Slumber parties were a big part of my childhood. I mostly remember having them at Steph's house in Connecticut. There'd be five or ten girls with sleeping bags strewn about the den. We'd stay up late, try to summon Bloody Mary, and talk about boys.

Steph's birthday. Rocky Hill, CT

Steph's birthday/ sleepover. Rocky Hill, CT

I think eight is a good age to start having them. The kids are old enough not to miss their mom at night and need to be driven back home. They're old enough to follow directions (mostly) about cleaning up their mess.

But I was very tired when she was eight, because I was working an early morning shift. I needed absolute silence by 7 p.m. when I was lying in bed.

Yes, even on the weekends. The body doesn't get a memo that it's Saturday, you know.

So now she's nine, and I'm off that shift and committed to normalcy for the rest of my life (speaking in terms of work schedule; let's not get too optimistic), and I can do this for her. Olivia is very motivated to earn this reward.

We sat around and planned the event. Food, dessert, activities, sleeping arrangements, guest list. Six or seven girls, I tell her.

And here's where it glitches up. "I can come and tell you ghost stories or we can paint nails together!" I gush.

We can do nails!

We can do nails!

Olivia paused. "Only if you're invited. We'll have to vote you in."

Invited? Vote? ?!?!?!

"But--? Aren't I-- the coolest-- mommy? You said so-- the other-- night?" I sputtered in pain.

"Jordan's mom teaches fourth grade now, so that's even cooler than a mom who was on TV," she shrugged. The message: delivered so matter-of-factly without any sensitivity!

That's cold, Dawg. She's like a mini Jason Bourne. She kills me.

"What if I were still working on TV? Would that make me the coolest?" I queried.

Olivia at my old job

Olivia at my old job

"No. She has a job at school. That's awesome," insisted Olivia.

OK, relief. I don't have to go get my old job back.

My old job

My old job

"I'm #2 then?" I confirm.

"Actually, you're #3. Jaycie's mom works in the cafeteria," she corrected.

Oh, my heart. I'm number three. Just like that. Fame is so fickle.

I'm going to work really hard to get back to #1. My idea is to present an ice cream bar to rival the delicious spreads over at those yogurt shops: the many flavors of yogurt, the two dozen toppings.

You shall all toast to my coolness!

You shall all toast to my coolness!

All the girls will witness my coolness when I unveil this with a flourish at the slumber party and they'll convince Olivia her mom is the coolest. This actually means I'm the one who wants to have the big sleepover now.


I! Will! Return! To! Former! Glory!


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