Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Asia Pacific Entertainment Finance Forum at HIFF

November 18th, 2015

Want a chance to learn from — and perhaps even collaborate with — some of the world’s most influential and successful players in the entertainment industry? Winston Baker, a leading global producer of entertainment finance conferences, is providing that rare opportunity in tandem with the Hawai`i International Film Festival this month. From November 18 - 20, content creators, financiers, and facilitators from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Asia, and Hawaii will converge at The Modern Honolulu Hotel in Waikiki, where Winston Baker is launching its inaugural Asia Pacific Entertainment Finance
Forum (APEFF).

Bruce Tuchman, President of AMC Global and Sundance Channel Global, and Nina Yang Bongiovi, producer of the critically acclaimed films “Fruitvale Station” and “Dope,” are the forum’s keynote speakers. Tuchman will speak on “Redefining the Television Landscape,” while Yang Bongiovi will share the knowledge gained from her more than 16 years of experience in production, finance, and management in Hollywood and Asia.
Panelist Sunny Dhillon, co-founder and principal at Signia Ventures, will speak on “Capitalizing on Gaming IP Development.” Film producers Roy Lee (“How to Train Your Dragon”) and Nanshun Shi (“The Taking of Tiger Mountain”) will serve on the panel “Financing Growth Opportunities for Film, Television and Beyond.” Other panels include “Localization of Remakes and Innovative Film Co-Productions,” and “Challenges and Opportunities: Creating Content in Hawaii.” (For the full program, visit
Joining the impressive slate of mainland and international speakers will be Ricardo Galindez, whose Island Film Group produced the movie “Soul Surfer,” Blue Planet Software President and
CEO Maya Rogers, and Chris Lee, a former president of production at TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures and the founder/director of the University of Hawai’i’s Academy for Creative
A conference pass, providing access to two full days of presentations and panel discussions, as well as a closing reception, costs $395. An “all access” pass, which includes additional receptions, a VIP excursion day, and a private dinner with forum speakers, financiers, and high level executives costs $895. To register online, visit

Manoa Valley Church present 45th Annual Harvest Fair

November 5th, 2015

Manoa Valley Church will present its 45th Annual Harvest Fair on Saturday, November 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend this event; free admission for the whole family.

The Harvest Fair offers something for everyone:
• Games for keiki
• Boutique/gift booth for Christmas and year-round gifts
• White elephant booths: great bargains on family clothing, children’s toys, housewares, shoes, handbags, and jewelry
• Tools, electronics, and more
• BBQ chicken, hamburgers, chili, nachos, baked goods, to name a few
• Produce booth
• Plants corner
Proceeds from the Harvest Fair will be used for Church facility maintenance and renovations.

Manoa Valley Church (United Church of Christ) is located at 2728 Huapala Street, across Manoa Marketplace and behind Starbucks. For more information, please visit or call the Church office at (808) 988-3271.

Halloween ghost stories

October 30th, 2015

As All Hallows' Evening approaches, I thought it would be a great time to tell a few ghost stories. Here are a couple from my mother, who loved to share this with me.

If you have some, I'd love to hear it! Thanks!


My mother grew up along Fort Street, in the days before it was widened and renamed as Pali Highway. There were two homes on the three-quarter acre property, and several families of our relatives lived there.

Circa Dec. 2008. The house was empty for years before finally torn down in 2008.

Circa Dec. 2008. The house was empty for years before finally torn down in 2008.

The address of her residence was 1735 Pali Highway, though the land's been sold to the Honpa Hongwanji Temple, and the old homes have long ago been razed.

It was a fairly self sufficient compound, with chickens, fruit trees, and a garden. Trees lined most of the property for privacy, and there was a small driveway leading out to the road.

Mom in her front yard. 1735 Pali Hwy.

Mom in her front yard. 1735 Pali Hwy.

This story takes place probably in the 1940's. One twilight, my mother as a teenager was sitting alone on her veranda when she saw a man she didn't recognize walking down the driveway and out towards the street.

He was wearing a white suit and a white Panama hat, which she said seemed out of place. She kept looking at him to try to figure out who this stranger was and why he was visiting their residence, when she realized he had no feet and no  lower legs. It just stopped after the knee.

Artist's watercolor of the house. 2009.

Artist's watercolor of the house. 2009.

She never saw him again, nor did she figure out why he may have been paying their property a visit.


In the middle of that same property was a communal laundry area with a big sink. It was tucked near the back of the property.

My mother says she looked out her bedroom window and in the light of the moon, saw an old Hawaiian woman washing her long, silvery hair in the sink.

That doesn't seem as ghostly to me. What if it was a homeless lady borrowing the facility when she thought nobody was looking?

My mom is convinced it was not that. She maintains this was the Hawaii of old, in the 40's, when there were still under half a million residents in the state, and criminals or vagrants didn't brazenly wander into private property as a common occurrence.

Besides, she reminds me, the woman was slightly transparent.


I am on indefinite hiatus from my jujitsu dojo while I work a morning shift that has me in bed by 6:30 p.m. When I was still practicing with them, though, something weird happened to me one evening.

Claus and me, before I went on indefinite leave from the dojo due to my schedule.

Claus and me, before I went on indefinite leave from the dojo due to my schedule.

They are located in a Shinto temple in Nuuanu. One night there was a demonstration of the arts, and I was videotaping it to compile into a teaching tool for all the students.

I had a camcorder, before smartphone cameras became ubiquitous. The viewing panel flipped open while you recorded, or during playback, for ease of viewing.

I was focused on following the action on the mat, keeping the teacher in frame as he moved back and forth. I sensed, however, someone standing inches behind me, looking over my shoulder to see what I was capturing.

I was sure it was Sensei. The energy felt light, friendly, and curious, and it felt like a man.

When the art was completed a minute or so later, I hit the pause button and turned with a smile to greet Sensei and ask him playfully if he approved of my effort. There was nobody there.

He's pretty quick and quiet on his feet, so I figured he walked elsewhere. I looked around. Nothing.

"Where'd Sensei go?" I asked someone near me.

"He hasn't arrived yet," they said.

"Who was by me when I was taping?" I asked.

"Nobody," they said.

Nobody. I still don't know who that was, but I'm sure of what I felt, and it was somebody.


I made the mistake of taking a rock from a wahi pana, a spiritual place, in Hana. I know, I know. I'm part-Hawaiian, I should know, etc.

So I was dumb. And I'm sorry.

View of Hana, Maui from Fagan's Cross

View of Hana, Maui from Fagan's Cross

A bunch of very inconvenient things happened in short order after I returned to Oahu; namely, a diamond ring was mysteriously misplaced, people got sick, and some other little difficulties. The timing was not to be overlooked as it happened in 36 hours.

My friend in the Hawaiian Studies department at UH told me to pray, apologize, and return it as soon as possible. I did, and told it I'd return it home as soon as I could. The ring was found. The maladies stopped.

My husband and I flew back to Hana, and booked at room at the Hana Kai condos. I unpacked the rock and set it on the table on the lanai where Claus and I were taking in the sunset.

Claus stood up to get something inside. I decided to take the time to address the rock.

"You're back in Hana," I told it. "I'll drive you back to your beach tomorrow."

Claus was behind me and heard me talking to the rock. He kissed the top of my head.

I lifted my chin and looked backwards to kiss him back. Except... he wasn't there. He was still inside.

Maybe it was the pohaku thanking me for bringing it home.

Sweet career for island chemist

October 21st, 2015

When I first met Dr. Dirk Koeppenkastrop, he handed me one of the oddest gelato concoctions I'd ever heard of: hurricane popcorn gelato topped with furikake. I gingerly tried it on air when I interviewed him live on the morning show, and to my genuine surprise, I liked it!

Dirk Koeppenkastrop

It's the right combination of savory and sweet, salt and sugar, crème and crunch. I might be the only person surprised, though, that any sweet creation coming out of Il Gelato Hawaii is superb.


The secret, aside from decades of corporate business acumen and a sincere passion for this second-career craft, is quite possibly Koeppenkastrop's chemistry background. He has a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Koeppenkastrop and his wife spent a couple decades in their native Germany raising their family, though they had lived in Hawaii for a long time, and had always missed the Islands. He was running 20 large environmental laboratories for Eurofins, the world leader in food, environment and pharmaceutical products testing.

"It was a long-time dream of ours to return to Hawaii after our children graduated from school. One of the things we missed about Europe while we lived in Hawaii was gelato, so I thought it would be perfect to open a gelateria and fill a niche in the market," he recalls.

Koeppenkastrop started taking teacher training course in Italy to learn to make gelato, and "I just knew from the first class that this was what I really wanted to do."

It's the perfect blend of his talents. "Freezing is all about physical chemistry. Adding sugar, reducing the freezing point, adding salt, understanding how fats and solids react" is all in his wheelhouse.

This, he says, "lets me make the best, healthiest, creamiest, all natural, and still great-tasting product." It's an advantage most competitors lack, he says; most don't have chemistry degrees.

Additionally, he says, he brings to the table a deep understanding of the financial savvy needed to make a business run. "I'm very detail oriented, and I'm also very sensitive to the P&L (profit and loss report.) Hawaii is a very expensive place to run a restaurant, so I am able to use my experience at Eurofins to manage my costs well."

Hurricane popcorn gelato

Hurricane popcorn gelato

Today, the Koeppenkastrops have three outlets: the original factory in Iwilei, and two branches in Kahala Mall and the North Shore Market Place in Haleiwa. His wife manages the Haleiwa store and is the Marketing/ HR person.

Dirk is the flavor developer and maestro gelato maker, and here's a taste of some of the new products he's developing for this fall/ winter: German apple strudel, pumpkin stracciatella (hot chocolate mixed in with pumpkin gelato), pumpkin cheesecake, a line of cranberry flavors, champagne/raspberry swirl, eggnog (this is the only gelato we have with egg in it), and candy cane.

"I'm the mad scientist in the laboratory, and the great thing is, I can taste my own creations to see if I like them or not!" he laughs. His own favorite flavor is pistachio with dark gianduja.

Here's another beautiful thing about being his own boss now: he picks his store locations based on his love for kite surfing, surfing, and stand-up paddling. No word on a new store location, but if there is a fourth store, you can bet it'll be minutes from a great beach.


Flash floods benefit stream health

October 19th, 2015

It's been rainy, and the media's been inundating you with messages of flash flood watches and warnings across the islands. There's one community, though, that loves flash floods. That's the creatures living in Hawaii's streams.

Skippy Hau, an aquatic biologist with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), has been studying the fresh water fishes, shrimp, and snails living in the streams for both his job and his hobby since 1985. "It's been great for their populations. These animals continuously move upstream, and often, during the dry season, they migrate to the top of the stream only to find there is no water there. They end up dying after the water evaporates."

Skippy Hau

Skippy Hau

His recent stream sampling of hihiwai snails, found a marked increase in the past two years. "In ten minutes, I can collect five to ten thousand hihiwai. Recruitment has been consistent from regular rains generated by the passing weather fronts."

Hihiwai migration, Sept. 2015. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

Hihiwai migration, Sept. 2015. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

hihiwai close

Hihiwai migration, Sept. 2015. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

The hihiwai settle in the stream mouth as juveniles and can be as small as a millimeter shell length. They migrate to the lower stream where groundwater helps to maintain the estuary.

Honumanu Stream. Oct. 2015. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

Honumanu Stream. Oct. 2015. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

When they mature, they lay white egg cases that can contain up to 250 eggs. The hihiwai egg cases are bright white and stand out in the stream.  In a matter of days it will turn off-white as the eggs and larvae are released.

After the eggs hatch, the larvae actually flows out to the ocean to live up to 180 days (six months) when they settle and begin their upstream migration. The "orange" fins develop as they get bigger.  The white hihiwai egg cases can be seen on the rocks also.

They actually move up along the side by little eddies which moves them upstream.  They graze on algae on the rocks.

The hihiwai arrive at the top of the stream as juveniles, mature to adulthood, then return back downstream to lay eggs. After the eggs hatch, the larvae actually flows out to the ocean to live for a while until the cycle starts over and they migrate back to the landmass.

Iao Stream goby. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

Honomanu Stream. Two 'o'opu nopili (white stripe) in the middle and another smaller post-larvae (about an inch) with stripes on an adult hihiwai. Courtesy: Skippy Hau

Other stream animals Hau studies are five types of goby fishes (`o`opu) and shrimp (`opae). Three species of `o`opu also migrate upstream, and sometimes, depending on where they live, actually skip, slither, and jump up to five miles to get to the head of the waterfall.

Another fascinating marine life fact: Hau says Puerto Rican scientists tagged a certain species of shrimp in their waters 17 years ago and have been monitoring them ever since. Their research finds the shrimp could be up to 50 years old!

"This is the atyid shrimp, and we have it in Hawaii, too," he shares. "There's just so much we still don't know about our marine life."

"I really enjoy this kind of work. Since I was a kid, I've been interested in marine life. I enjoy understanding their whole life cycle, and I try to get into classrooms to teach children about it, too. It's that generation that will take up the cause to protect the streams and estuaries that support this ecosystem," says Hau.

He reminds us that this is a cause that affects the entire community. "If you like to fish, you should care. Big fish eat smaller fish which sometimes eat shrimp. Who do you think populates the smaller streams that I'm studying?" he points out.


Hau is concerned about stream health as it's affected by water rights. "Historically, plantations controlled water flow. It's still somewhat happening today, but with developers. People say they support agriculture, but we need to do more to protect ag land and the streams on it," he emphasizes.

"These ecosystems are in danger, and when the smaller links in the food chain suffer, it will eventually impact everyone in one way or another."