Categories
The Life Aloha

Paved Paradise and didn’t put in ENOUGH Parking Lots

Okay, I admit it, I muddled the lead because I wanted to riff on Joni Mitchel’s song. The real problem isn’t enough parking lots, it’s too many cars. Yesterday morning, far too early, I woke up and went to sell at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. It was a good first experience there – I was mobbed before light by vendors and early birds who knew that I was fresh meat – and then I stayed four hours in a not very good location and still made more than a day of work at my day job. By noon, I was home and loading my family into the car for a day at the beach – now to be fair – I should have known better than to head to Waikiki on a Sunday – but that was where the girls wanted to go and I figured we would find parking somewhere…I was wrong. We had plate lunches in the back of the car getting cold and by 1:30 we had not found a single parking space but I nearly got in fisticuffs with another guy who decided to zip by me when I thought I found a space (it was a fire hydrant) and then changed my mind. His road rage was such that I thought he might ram my car with his truck and then he started yelling and making threatening gestures and me, I just ignored him and drove on knowing that my wife and daughter were in the car and that engaging with a road rager put them in danger – eventually, he stopped following me. Granted, I did veer in front of him – which was an accident – but it wouldn’t have been a big deal if he hadn’t of decided to try to zip around me at a high and unexpected speed. So, there we were – lunch getting cold, not finding a parking space, and everyone in the car getting grumpy while other drivers were doing the same. Finally, I decided to give up and we headed to Ala Moana beach park where there is more parking usually – or used to be. One parking lot was shut down with a sign “shut down for workers’ – on a Sunday? And the only space we saw open up had three people lined up waiting for it. After two hours of wanting to enjoy the beach but instead being in the car, I was done. We weren’t going to go to Waikiki or Ala Moana so instead we drove East to Aina Haina and found a parking space close enough to a nice little rocky beachpark where we ate our pokebowls and I taught the girls how to snorkel. It was a lovely afternoon – but the parking thing. Parking isn’t the problem. Cars on Oahu are the problem. Cars need to be removed and banned from this island. I love my personal vehicle as much as the next guy, but the problem is too far gone. Cars are destroying the Hawaiian vibe – to a large extent have already destroyed it. I have the solution – it wouldn’t be impossible but people wouldn’t like it until they realized just how good it is. Step 1) A taxpayer funded buyback of clunkers and low value cars. $1000-$1500 per vehicle for any and all vehicles with no title, paperwork, running or not running. Ship all those cars to a junker on the mainland to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. This would also include all the abandoned vehicles and impounded vehicles. If the transport to the mainland could be negotiated well, this could actually result in a profit for taxpayers.
Step 2) A moratorium on new vehicles being brought to the island. For each vehicle brought to Hawaii, a vehicle would need to be exported. Auto dealerships would need to buy and export as many vehicles as they intend to sell. Thise would create a brisk business for future clunkers and abandoned vehicles. The same rule would apply to car rental agencies. Trade in values would go up with dealers. Step 3) A ban on military POVs (personally owned vehicles). Our troops don’t need to bring their huge Iowa trucks and their spouses and children’s vehicles to Oahu. The military could be a good neighbor with this policy and could also provide additional transport options for garrissoned troops like buses, military taxis, etc. Step 4 – This one would be very controversial – banning vehicles from downtown Honolulu, banning personal vehicles from Waikiki and from Ala Moana. Setting up park and ride lots nearby with free shuttle service to these areas.

I realize that banning cars in the United States is about as realistic as banning guns – but the truth is – cars are turning paradise into a parasite (hat tip to my wife for that one) by sucking the time and the joy from people without them even knowing it.

Categories
America

Donald Trump is not Real. He’s like Max Headroom. Trump is not human.

In case you have been wondering what the fuck is going on in the United States – we have elected a fake president. I’m not saying he isn’t really the president – he is that. There’s no doubt about that one now. I’m saying that Trump himself isn’t real. He’s like Max Headroom. He’s an illusion. The person who speaks on the stage is an actor, paid to say the outrageous things he says. Notice he doesn’t really DO anything. I mean, he gets on stages and performs like a trained dog. He sends out ‘tweets’ which is questionable because has anyone ever actually seen him tweeting – and even his Twitter handle is a study in irony realdonaldtrump… Remember FakeSteveJobs? He was more real than RealDonaldTrump. There is a reason that nothing on his agenda has been accomplished, there is a reason he hasn’t filled scores of government jobs, there is a reason that he doesn’t do press conferences or have white house media or a thousand other things that REAL presidents of the USA have done – it’s because he is not real.

There’s a reason you don’t see him with his wife, why she rebuffs him, why you don’t see him with his kids having family moments, why you don’t see him being a real human being. It is because he is a robot covered in makeup – an actor – quite possibly not even a real human being.

Max Headroom, by the way, predicted Trump would be President.

Categories
Uncategorized

The Solution to Everything – Here it is

Never fear folks. Now we got the solution to everything. It’s so easy now that Trump is putting it into action.
Got a problem with young people protesting? Start a war of if you already have one, just expand it.
Got a problem with opium based addiction? Start a war with the largest opium producer on the planet.
Got a problem with Muslims? Start a war with an opium producing, Islamic nation bordering another Islamic nation and then bring a hindu nation into it which borders the other Muslim nation.
Got a problem with black people? Start a war and get em fighting for the motherland – hey, get the black people to kill the Islamic people and you got a two birds with one stone situation because both populations are going to get smaller.
Got a problem with a nuclear rogue state? Start a problem between two less stable nuclear states.
Got a Global Warming problem? Cool things down with a Nuclear Winter!

Here it is…the Trump plan…unfolding before our eyes…combine the war on opiods with the war on terror, reinstate the draft at some point, bring on the nuclear winter, and whitey on the moon.

Categories
Economics The Life Aloha

The Death of Affordability in Hawaii

Coming back to Hawaii – there are lots of obvious changes – there are now lots of really expensive trendy shops. Whole Foods is here and you can spend a fortune on groceries if you choose to, Bed Bath and Beyond, Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc – the list goes on and on. There is no shortage of expensive shops here – and seeing all of that, it’s easy to forget what used to be in those spaces. Same goes for restaurants – every famous chef you can think of has a great little corner location and all the little great cheap places that used to be here – they’ve all grown into bigger, multi-location restaurants – so you can find the same great food on all the different corners of the island. Here’s the thing though – the quality in those little hole in the wall places that have grown so big has gone down and the prices have gone up. And guess what all those fancy retailers have replaced? Affordable stores. And guess what’s happened to the rents in those little places where you could buy everyday things for living cheaply? They’ve gone up – so no more cheap sponges and coffee in Chinatown – no more cheap produce from Farmer’s Markets – no more dollar stores, no more Grocery Outlets, no more big affordable Daiea markets or semi-affordable Don Quixote – instead those stores are closed and moved off island and Don Quixote is no longer a bargain. Those who have stayed here through the last 10 years may not have noticed – like looking in the mirror each day and missing the ten years of wrinkles – but all the little shops that used to make it affordable to get by each day – those shops are gone. I notice it because I went looking for them – and instead found Chuck E Cheese and an upscale boutique or found higher prices than I get on Amazon. Safeway doesnt do $5 Friday on Oahu. This island has seen real estate prices skyrocket since the recession and at the same time these systemic changes – where affordable shampoo, rice, or toilet scrubbers are no longer available – they are stealing the pennies and dimes. Parking downtown costs $30/hr and an expired meter will cost you $35-$50 depending on where it happens. I’ve always said that Hawai’i was worth what it takes to live here – but I’m not sure about that any longer. It seems that the truth may well be that it has reached the point where paradise is only available to those who already have enough money to not worry about paying $15 for a jar of peanut butter.

Categories
Uncategorized

The Case for Banning Automobiles

In light of the recent spate of cars being used as terrorist weapons, I think it bears consideration to look at banning all automobiles. Britain and France have already chosen to ban all gas and diesel vehicles by the year 2040. Self driving vehicles with built in safeguards are a reality already that only needs a push from governance to become a reality. Bike share programs are taking off. Rail and hyperloop are realities. It would be good for the environment, it would be good for our mental health, and I think it would be good for our security. I support a ban on cars starting right away.

Categories
Uncategorized

Uber and Lyft Care About Your Car

When we moved to Hawai’i, I knew that money was going to be tight. I knew I would need a second or third source of income – and I kept hearing about how good Lyft and Uber were for the drivers…so instead of buying a cheap older car, I bought a 2015 Nissan Versa Note with low mileage. Definitely not the most expensive car on the market, but holds five people, can hold some luggage, and is small, gets nice gas mileage, and I can usually find parking for it. I got my insurance, license, and registration all in order and I applied to Lyft and Uber. Most websites said the wait was a week or less, since I have a clean driving record, no criminal record, and a newer car with all the paperwork – I thought I would be qualified quickly. It’s been nearly a month now – finally, I got curious as to why it was taking so long and started digging around on the internet – it indeed seemed that people get approved quickly – unless they have cars that are already common in the Uber or Lyft marketplace – so in Honolulu, I would have been way better off with a five year old mini-van than I am with the car I bought to be a Lyft/Uber car. Lyft and Uber don’t say this – they say that they are still doing my background check – but since the FBI and the military bases I have to access for my work as an archaeologist already came back with approval (and I applied afterward) I think it’s pretty clear that something else is going on. I like my little car and it has worked better than expected for our family – but it would have been nice to know that the rideshare companies judge you by your vehicle before I bought it. I can’t claim credit for this information – it was on the internet – the orginal poster said that when they have a lot of the same cars in a driving area – they tend to make you just wait and wait and wait…go figure. At least I have a good car.

Categories
The Life Aloha

Here is whats missing in Honolulu….and I don’t mean Not Native American Restaurants

I understand why…the cost of renting space here is insanely prohibitive…if you are going to have a space it has to be able to generate at least enough to pay for itself – i.e. Be a very profitable little enterprise anywhere else in the USA…but here in Honolulu, there is a big obvious gap (and I’m not talking about the complete and total lack of Native American restaurants anywhere…anywhere in the world) I’m talking about micro-museums – little owner passionate shops that focus on the insane hobbies or odd interests of a single person – Gordy’s Fairhaven Pharmacy in Bellingham, Washington or the Bug Zoo in Victoria, BC – the museum of bad record album covers or the museum of bottles bill collected. These little places are completely missing in Honolulu. Also missing are hobby and passion stores – meaning things like doll hospitals and Teddy Bear museums (there was one, but it was an animatronic Korean thing and it closed after three years, I never saw it).

The main reason, I believe, is that even a small dumpy space tends to cost at least $1000/month – and that requires quite a large volume of sales or admissions. Sure, on a rainy day there might be 1000 tourists looking for something to do that isn’t the Bishop Museum, the Honolulu Zoo or Aquarium, a bus tour, the Polynesian Cultural Center, or The Honolulu Museum of Art (can I please still call it the Academy of Arts?) but that means you need to collect $5 each from those 1000 people to cover your rent, utilities, insurance, the rent of your home, your home utilities, food, childcare, and other expenses. That’s a big risk in a city where 97% of days are beachworthy.

I don’t have a solution. Just like I don’t have an answer as to why there aren’t millions of Native American restaurants in North America but you can find pretty much every other ethnicity’s cuisine.

Categories
America money The Life Aloha

This Heartbreaking World

I want to start by saying that I don’t usually give homeless people or people that are begging anything except my compassion. We all know that story about the rich beggar with the garage full of undriven cars and the big house filled with unworn clothes – the beggar who sits on the corner asking for money. Or the drug addict or alcoholic who takes handouts to fuel their addiction. Or the professional beggars who find it more profitable than having a job. All those stories and well intentioned advice have led me through the years to refrain from giving to individuals. I sometimes donate to charities or drop a dollar here or there but generally, like almost everyone, I keep my distance from the homeless, the needy, the sick, the impovershed, and the dying. Aside from all of that, I struggle to pay all of our bills, I struggle to meet our obligations, and each dollar is too hard won to give it away. So you should know that before I write any more.

It’s impossible to ignore the suffering here on Oahu. Just like it’s impossible to ignore in Oakland and other places where the class divisions have grown so pronounced that there is nearly speciation between those who have and those who do not. We are forced to look at them as a different species – because the moment we stop doing so- the moment we let the wall down between us – it’s such a heartbreaking and awful feeling that it would be nearly impossible to let the world continue on as it is. They are ‘the homeless’ which carries a laundry basket of associated terms like drug addicts, mentally ill, alcoholics, criminal, unfit, and more. We put those terms on them – and we say sometimes ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ but we have to delineate the line – there is us and there is them. Us and them. They are not like us, we are not like them. There is no we, only us and them.

So, that’s what I’m writing about. Today, I went and got my car washed. I stopped and bought some spices at a health food store. I was sitting at a stoplight at a corner and there was one of them. Sun-baked skin like the back of a sailor’s neck, unbrushed grey hair frizzled like a sheeps coat in winter, dirt sticking to her clothing and sticking to the dirt on her clothing, second hand pants too big, rolled up and cinched with a rope. There she was sitting and staring at the ground, talking to herself, picking up small stones and throwing them at her feet, holding a sign “Please help. Homeless and Hungry” She was just like so many of them. Another of the homeless begging on a corner. She wasn’t any different than the last one you saw outside Walmart or next to McDonalds or sitting at the divider. And there I was, sitting in my car listening to the news on the radio and trying to ignore her, trying not to make eye contact, trying not to acknowledge her in any way. I caught myself devising a strategy if she caught my eye. I would smile, nod, and look away. I caught myself and I felt disgusted by me. I wanted to throw up all over myself. I knew what I was doing. I’ve done it so many millions of times. As she talked to herself and threw those pebbles at her feet, I told myself she was obviously crazy. I told myself that she might be one of the rich scammers or the lazy do-nothings. I told myself every lie that we all tell ourselves. None of them worked. I’d caught myself. I told myself that I didn’t have money to give away, that my money wouldn’t make a difference, and frankly, I don’t and it wouldn’t – not really.

But I couldn’t do it – I thought to myself “I’m going to give her $5” and I reached for my wallet, I opened it and I only found a $1 and a $10. The voice in my head said “Never mind, just move along” and then “Just give her the buck, you can’t give her the ten” but my better self, the financially stupid self, the compassionate human self was in the driver seat of my car. I took the ten, I rolled down the window and I said “Hey”

She looked up in surprise. She never would have caught my eye. Her eyes had never looked up. She looked at me and slowly began to push herself up off the ground to move towards the money I was holding out to her. She reached it and before she could say thank you or anything else it was me that spoke “I’m sorry for this world”. Our eyes were locked on each others – hers as blue as mine, as clear as mine, her mind as clear as mine, her humanness as clear as mine. “It’s a pretty messed up world,” she said in return.

The light was green. I rolled up my window and drove on. I wept all the way home.

It’s a pretty messed up world.

Categories
America

The Scary Truth…..People Want A Nuclear War

No one is saying this, because it’s not the kind of thing you say out loud, but just like the hidden Trump voters who have never stood up and said why they voted for him – they voted for him because our civilization sucks for a huge number of people – it’s so bad that people are literally thinking “maybe if we just completely blow it up and kill millions of people, it will get rid of the problems”. If you aren’t one of the people who has this excitement about the collapse of our civilization – you just won’t get it. I’m not a person who voted for Trump – his entire being was simply too abhorrent to contemplate, but if he hadn’t of been a sort of modern day Hitler with his racism, fear mongering about religious differences, and blatant woman hating – I probably would have. He appeals to that part of me that simply wants to see our entire civilization and worldview blown the fuck up. By the same token, I’m not rooting for a nuclear war – or a war of any sort because I understand the human individual suffering involved – I can see the difference between an idea and a reality – but I have to admit, there is a part of me that is rooting for this to happen. Intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually – I know that this conflict which is brewing is atrocious and will probably lead to the most suffering, death, and destruction our history has ever experienced – but there is that inner part of me which I am exposing now, but which most people will not expose, which is positively gleeful at the prospect of this greedy, lying, son-of-a-bitch civilization where success comes fromfucking over your neighbors or the people you are suppossed to represent being completely destroyed so that we, as humans, can have the chance to build something better. The hidden Trump voters already pushed the red button when they voted for him – I promise you, this is what they want. I can only hope that wiser heads prevail – but then, if they do not – then it’s probably for the best that we witness carnage and destruction on such a grand scale that reason can stand a chance in the rebuilding – except that as World War I and World War II and nearly every other war have proved – our reason seems to only last a few generations before we go back to being asshole Homo sapiens.