Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Micronesian Medicaid

February 20th, 2015
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Micronesian migrants living in Hawaii under the Compact of Free Association are no longer covered by the state for Medicaid, but they are being enrolled for health insurance through the Hawaii Health Connector. This  will save the state an estimated $27 million dollars.

In this legislative session, Hawaii lawmakers also introduced a pair of bills that would require the state to cover the costs of premiums, copays and deductibles to help low-income migrants.  The Senate health committee advanced SB1327 in mid-February.

Reverend David J. Gierlach, the Rector at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, is sympathetic to the cause because a quarter of his congregation is Micronesian. He tells me this is a good move for several reasons.

Courtesy David Gierlach

Micronesians rally for medical help. Courtesy David Gierlach

"First, the needed care will probably be provided through emergency rooms which is horrifically expensive, thus burdening the entire community with unnecessarily high medical costs. Second, our nation caused many of the problems for which this population seeks relief and we have a moral obligation to address them.

Third, this really is a federal responsibility that should not be the obligation of a small state like ours, thus the need to reform the law that excludes them from Medicaid," says Gierlach.

Courtesy David Gierlach

Courtesy David Gierlach

In the 1940s and 1950s the US government used Micronesia and the Marshall Islands as the primary above ground nuclear testing site. The Federation of American Scientists reports the following regarding those tests:

Summary of 66 Nuclear Tests over Marshall Islands (1946-1958):
43 at Enewetak Atoll
23 at Bikini Atoll

Largest Hydrogen Bomb “Bravo” on March 1, 1954: 15 Megatons
Equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima Bombs
Total of 66 Bombings: Equivalent to 7,200 Hiroshima Bombs in total or
600 Hiroshima Bombs per year or 1.6 Hiroshima Bombs per day over 12-year Nuclear Testing Program

In order to engage in these tests, whole populations were relocated off of ancestral islands, the culture was transformed from a subsistence diet to one based on rice and canned meat, and disease associated with the radiation and poor diet is endemic. Since then, the US military continues to have free reign throughout these islands and the adjoining ocean.

In exchange, people from this area are permitted to enter the US without visas and to work in the US. However, in the 1996 Welfare reform act, this population was barred from receiving Medicaid benefits, meaning that treatments such as dialysis and radiation treatment for cancer is not funded unless the state where the person resides agrees to fund it. Hawaii did fund this gap in coverage until the Lingle administration decided to reduce the permitted health care coverage.

There are an estimated 7,500 migrants affected by the health insurance changes. SB1327 seeks an estimated $8 million to cover the additional health care costs.

The bill has support from large medical entities like Hawaii Medical Services Association, the state's largest insurance company, and The Queen's Health Systems.

Sexy scrumptious

February 16th, 2015
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I walked into my friend Kalei's office and was immediately assaulted with complaints about her coworker, Michael. They work in radio, and Michael needed someone to voice over a spot for something romantic in what the client described as a "sexy, scrumptious" voice.

Apparently, Michael's first choice was not available, so, needing it right away, another coworker suggested Kalei. Michael hesitated and doubted her ability. She was totally offended.

"I can do a sexy voice," she raged, my 99-pound, boyishly Asian friend who could probably do a brisk business in the anime genre, I say with a hint of jealousy because that's probably a lucrative and growing market. But sexy was the word of the day.

"Can you do sexy?" I inquired.

"Diane! You're supposed to know that!" she fired back.

"I forget? Let me hear it now?" I covered.

"I can't do it on demand. My sexy voice is available in certain day parts and we're not in that day part righto now," she explained.

I left without much more discussion, leaving both her office and her dignity (and her snickering coworker.)

Days later, she sent me the sample clip. Michael relented and let her voice the commercial. She sent me the spot as vindication of her ability to be on-demand scrumptious.

I listened to it and called her back. She put me on speaker. "Oh, no! Your voice is hoarse! Are you OK? Are you still sick?" I asked.

"Forget you. Rude!" she lobbed back.

I could hear Michael laughing in the background. I continued, "Hey, I'm just being a caring friend. In my absence, maybe you can ask Michael to run to the store to get you cough drops."

"I'm hanging up now," she said curtly.

I don't know about sexy, but angry, she does pretty well.

 

A love story for Valentine's Day

February 13th, 2015
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KHON2 weekend sports anchor Sam Spangler's engagement proposal to Chassis Tavares didn't exactly go as planned from the get go. "I was going to propose to her on New Year's Day at Kualoa Ranch. Turns out, it was closed, so I had to come up with a Plan B. She likes digging in the sand for sand crabs, so I took her up to the North Shore and distracted her while I wrote in the sand 'Will You Marry Me?" Spangler says.

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

She turned around - saw the message - and started jumping up and down and crying. "She didn't actually say yes right away and she took the ring out of my hand and put it on her own finger. And I still had to ask after two minutes, 'So that's a yes, right?'"

Of course, it was!

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Tavares' version: "I had a feeling that day was going to be the day he was going to ask me to marry him. As it got closer and closer to the moment I was surprisingly calm. When I saw him on one knee with the ring in his hand the first feeling I had was completeness then excited, very excited. I didn't cry and thinking back on it now I think it is because a part of me always knew I would marry this man. When the moment happened it felt right, like we were so right for each other that the question was so simple and the answer flowed naturally from my mouth."

This is love, because Spangler's a huge sports fan and he actually missed two big games- the Rose Bowl with Marcus Mariota and the Sugar Bowl. "I didn't even check my phone for scores. It was almost impossible," he emphasizes.

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Spangler had originally planned to propose on January 2 simply to avoid the New Year's Day crowds, but "our weathercaster Justin Cruz had told me it would be inclement weather on the second, so I moved it up a day. And it was still overcast, sprinkling, and grey on the first. Thanks, Justin," adds Spangler.

"She's my best friend. I can tell her anything. She genuinely cares about my well-being, which is tough to find. She really is the most caring and authentic person I know, and I'm thrilled to spend my life with her," he continues.

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Photo courtesy Sam Spangler

Tavares echoes similar sentiments. "Sam and I have always been kindred spirits and he is my best friend. I can't imagine a future without him in it. We make each other laugh. Sam has the ability to make me laugh so hard that I literally fall to the ground. We have so much fun! We also support each other in all aspects of life. I know he always has my back and I will always have his. He also makes me a better person. I want to be the best version of myself because I know he deserves the best."

They've been together since 2010. They met in 2007 when they were both attending University of Hawaii at Manoa. "She walked into my friend's dorm room and it was love at first sight for me," Spangler recalls. They developed a friendship for a few years until they started dating.

Spangler's 2015 is off to a great start. The wedding date is in April 2016. Congratulations!

More- or less?- than we bargained for at a Sedona hike

February 11th, 2015
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On our second and final day in Sedona, my cousin and I realized we really hadn't spent much time at the world-famous energy vortexes, which are supposed to be great meditation centers, and the whole point of going up there. We had been driving, sightseeing, eating, shopping.

View of West Sedona from Airport Vortex hike. We can see our hotel down there!

View of West Sedona from Airport Vortex area. We can see our hotel down there!

In the morning, we drove to the closest vortex, which was a few minutes away from our hotel. We easily found parking - though I suspect in the high tourist season, that would be a challenge - and found the "You Are Here" map.

As mentioned in the previous blog, we are directionally-challenged, so we hiked a short way up the hill and at the post with the directional arrows, we went right instead of left. We just did, I don't know why.

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We walked along a well paved path for a few minutes and wondered where all the people were, since there were a fair number of cars. After another few minutes traveling along an empty hiking trail, we noticed the highway below.

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After another few minutes, we came across power line antennae encased in a chain link area. We thought, This isn't very scenic. But we forged ahead.

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Fifteen minutes later, we wondered when we would get to the vortex, because it sure seemed longer than the online write ups indicated. All the literature that we skimmed said it was a super short hike.

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Our question was answered shortly because we were stopped by a large chain link fence with barbed wire at the top. This surely is not the destination! We turned around, shaking our heads at ourselves.

Airport Vortex summit (people atop hill) and parking lot right below.

Airport Vortex summit (people atop hill) and parking lot right below.

As we walked back to the starting point, we then had a wider perspective of the area: the parking lot, a zig zag trail immediately above it leading to a small hill, and a bunch of people standing on top. If we had simply looked up from our parked car we would have seen the vortex summit.

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What did we do instead? My cousin is afraid is afraid of heights, so we once again did not follow any posted directions and instead walked straight ahead twenty feet and sat in a nearby tree to enjoy the view.

Me in the tree.

Me in the tree.

So I actually did not sit in the epicenter of the Airport Vortex, but I'm hoping that I got some kind of residual energy runoff because I was in the perimeter.

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Meditation with dingbats. We laughed a lot. And we had a good time!

Sedona, Arizona provides relaxing respite

February 9th, 2015
By



A relaxing weekend trip to Sedona in Arizona gave me a great way to start my new year. I'd heard about the healing properties of this northern Arizona town for years, but for one reason or another, never made the time to go.

Sedona. Courtesy: Front Burner Media.

Sedona. Courtesy: Front Burner Media.

Recently, though, my cousin Janice and I got to talking and decided it would be a great Girls' Getaway for ourselves. She just opened a bakery, Hawaiian Pie Co., and still operates another full-time business. I have a demanding (but fulfilling) career and juggle parenting, which you know is a non-stop job.

The stress had built over 2014 and it was time to unwind. We informed our husbands we were leaving for the weekend!

With travel time, we ended up only having 36 hours in Sedona. The major carriers fly into Phoenix, and from there, it is a two hour drive north to Sedona. Out of habit, I booked us on Hawaiian Air, which ended up being not so smart.

Nothing against the carrier, but for this situation, the only direct flight from Honolulu to Phoenix arrived at 10 p.m. By the time we got our car, we didn't get to our hotel until 1 a.m. Tired!

Likewise, we caught an 8 a.m. flight leaving Phoenix for Honolulu, which meant we left Sedona the night before to avoid a pre-dawn rush to the airport. We stayed at an airport hotel.

Aside from that little scheduling mistake, it was a great trip. I grew up with Janice and knew instinctively we'd make good travel partners. We have never traveled alone together before but we were very compatible.

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The funny thing about being related as first cousins is that there were more similarities than I realized. She does a lot of things just the way I do. We are also both directionally-challenged, which added to the travel-time to each destination. Ha!

We get that from our Ako side. We are a pathetic duo on the roads. Luckily this was not like navigating Los Angeles or even San Francisco. There were, however, a lot of U-turns made and circles driven in Sedona, which basically has one main road. Please, never send us alone to a major metropolis.

Sedona. Courtesy: Front Burner Media.

Sedona. Courtesy: Front Burner Media.

On the first day, we were greeted by beautiful weather and were awed by the natural beauty. We drove around the main roads to get the lay of the land. We went north to Oak Creek Vista, which is the last stop before it just becomes open highway on the way to Flagstaff.

Oak Creek Vista

Oak Creek Vista

We went south down Highway 179 to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a popular tourist stop. It's a pretty church built into the rocks. Janice, turns out, is a shopper, and can shop anywhere, including at a church. We drove through the touristy Uptown section- two blocks crammed with shops and people.

View from inside chapel.

View from inside chapel.

We found the Amitabha Stupa, a relatively new spiritual spot built in 2004. "A stupa is considered to be the living presence of the Buddha and as such represents the Mind of Enlightenment," explains the website. It is beautiful, and Janice and I enjoyed our hour there, meditating in front of the 36-foot structure and exploring the winding paths around the area.

Amitabha Stupa

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We didn't have time to research Sedona too much before the trip. I like reading actual, hard copy travel books but in this case, I only did some web research, so I hadn't heard about the Stupa. Most of the places we found came via word of mouth, just talking to locals while there. I'm glad we did, because I consider this my trip highlight.

Airport Vortex Summit

Airport Vortex Summit

Another spiritual spot we visited was the Airport Vortex, so named for its proximity to the Sedona airport. I'm convinced there are only beautiful spots in Sedona. (More on this hike in the next blog.)

We also stayed in West Sedona, which I liken to Kailua - with Uptown Sedona being like Waikiki. I definitely recommend staying in West Sedona. It's near all the tourist action, yet it hosts all the stores that locals go to. It's centrally located by the four major energy vortexes that the tourism department markets.

Sedona Rouge in Arizona. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

Sedona Rouge in Arizona. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

I wasn't sure where to stay, so I randomly picked a resort with a good AAA rating that had its own spa. I thought that if it snowed, we wouldn't want to travel far for our massage.

Sedona Rouge's restaurant. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

Sedona Rouge's restaurant. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

We stayed at Sedona Rouge, which is a cute, chic boutique hotel with an uplifting feel and a popular restaurant and bar. It was perfect for us. The restaurant has live entertainment, and the spa had a wide variety of services plus all-day access to its steam room and sauna for those who book a service. That staff was friendly and the hotel location fit our needs perfectly.

Sedona Rouge in Arizona. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

Sedona Rouge in Arizona. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

Though the spa menu offered psychic readings - which I'm not accustomed to seeing but thought was cool- Janice and I opted for a traditional theraputic massage.

Sedona Rouge's spa. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

Sedona Rouge's spa. Courtesy: Sedona Rouge.

 

The trip went by too quickly, yet it was the right amount of time to unwind and return refreshed to our normal lives. End of January turned out to be a great time to visit as well.

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Though the locals say it's hit and miss with the winter rain, we encountered only sunny skies and few crowds, which made the trip all the more memorable.