lantern floating – memorial day 2009
May 28, 2009, 8:15 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: , ,

One of the most unique things about Hawaii is the convergence of diverse cultures. We’ve got the Hawaiians, the Samoans, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Filipinos, the Koreans, the Caucasians, the Portuguese, just to name a few. And then, of course, there is the amalgamation of some or all of those–the locals. Here racial jokes are funny, and people actually laugh at them.

Throughout the year, there are various festivals or celebrations of specific ethnic groups. And on this Memorial Day in Honolulu, there was the 10th anniversary of Lantern Floating, a celebration hosted by the Shinnyo-en temple, a Japanese Buddhist denomination, during which lanterns are sent floating along the shore of the Pacific Ocean in remembrance of loved ones who have died in conflict and dedication of peace for future generations.

I knew about the event in years past, but has never made it down until this year when I was hired to sing in the chorus for the event. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, the view was gorgeous as dusk turned into night and the lanterns lit up the shore once again. I’m no Buddhist (deja vu of a previous post), but it was a beautiful ceremony that reminded me how blessed I am to be in this unique place.







Photos courtesy of T.C.


“basketball–it’s just a game…”
May 17, 2009, 5:21 am
Filed under: babble | Tags: ,

…as the kid says in the NBA commercial.

Today I have to remind myself of that as I am experiencing, once again, that sunken feeling from my team’s elimination, one so familiar during this time of the year. But at least this time around, that feeling came seven games later than the last few years. It was a tall order to beat L.A. in game 7 in their glitzy, star-filled arena without our star players and our tallest player on the floor being a foot shorter than our opponent’s. It was expected even if I felt guilty having that expectation.

I have some counseling work to do on myself when I am possibly feeling it more than the players themselves. My body physically aches, I have no appetite the whole day, I am in withdrawal from the company of others.

I feel like Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch, except my loyalty to the team has no effects on another right now. Ugh…I will stop now. I’m going to curl up and take a nap.

Big Island, Hawaii

islemap-big_island big_island-mini-map

Big Island, Hawaii–the island that keeps getting bigger– has just been crowned my favorite island in the Hawaiian chain. I was there for 5 days for work with a quite a bit of down time to play. And it helps when there is someone in the group who also likes to explore the amazing sites the island has to offer. I’ve been there once about 12 years ago, and have nearly no recollection of it. Thus in my mind, the Big Island was boring. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The first day on tour, we were done by 10:30 a.m., so the choice was either go back to our rooms to sleep, or head out to play. It was a very voggy day (vog=volcanic smog; click here for explanation) and I have allergic reactions to vog, but I opted to play, of course.

We were on Kona (northwest) side of the island so our first stop was Kiholo Bay–Mile Marker #82 off Highway 19. To get to the water, you have to hike from the highway down a 20-minute path to the ocean. The rocky beach epitomizes the best character of this island–ruggedness.


Along the beach, in search of the famed Queen’s Bath, an underground lava tube filled with icy fresh water, we first came by the Bali House.


A house built by the owner of the Paul Mitchell company for which all materials were imported from Bali (talk about eco-friendly!) and laborers were grossly underpaid (a whopping $1.50 a day for two years). It is nonetheless a gorgeous house.

Keep walking, we encountered Mr. sea turtle sun (or vog) bathing.


Twenty minutes of fantastic distractions later, we finally ended our treasure hunt–Queen’s Bath.




That glistening, icy, fresh water! I respectfully (as instructed) frolicked in that well of crystal clear water until my jaw started shaking from the decrease in body temperature. Had I more insulation (i.e., body fat), I would have stayed in there much longer.

More gorgeous views from this side of the island




The next three days of our trip were spent on Hilo side of the island, that is the northeastern part of this ever-expanding rock. We visited Champagne Pond, the eastern most tip of the island where the “virgin” air from the Pacific is used as standard against which air quality all around the globe is compared. The pond itself is naturally heated by lava rocks beneath. My immediate reaction to the warm water was not so favorable because it was reminiscent of going to the community swimming pool in which tepid water only comes from one source–that kid who just swam away from you. But I grew to love the relaxing temperature of the pond, and treading from rock to rock, you can find spots that have more heat radiating from below.

We then hit Kehena Beach, a famed black sand, nudist beach filled with hippies and their dogs.




Lastly, LAVA!


If this photo is of Santa Barbara, it would have a much different mood to it. The white smoke, however, indicates that it is no longer burning. This is the site of the Big Island expansion–live lava flowing into the ocean from the great Kilauea Volcano, forming more cliffs and eventually ‘land’. There is no surface lava flow at this moment. And we were only allowed to view the flowing lava (not actually visible) from about a mile plus out.


My task now is to track surface lava. When and if it happens, I am hopping over so I can, hopefully, be up close to it. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like or how close one can really get to it.

I love the robustness of this island. It is like none others.

May 12, 2009, 8:13 pm
Filed under: babble | Tags: , ,

I have a post on my Big Island trip, I’m not done yet…but a quick post here because I’m TOO EXCITED!

Today is my 3x birthday, and I woke up to the coolest present!

My roommate, after hearing about my embarrassing feat of walking into a bar with a homemade Rockets shirt, made me a Rockets tank top!!!! How cool is that?!!? And I was planning to go out to watch Game 5 between my AWESOME Houston Rockets and the L.A. Lakers again, talk about a timely gift!!

I’m so psyched! I’ll watch my game in style!!!




Photo 11

GO ROCKETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

how sweeet it is!

Houston Rockets WINS!!!!

We (the Rockets) advanced to the SECOND round of playoffs for the first time in 12 years! That’s a long time.

I have been a Rockets fan since I was 9 years old. This is perhaps what got me hooked (skip to 4:00 in for most crucial moment)

I still remember watching this moment of Houston beating the reigning Lakers with¬† Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar out of the Western Conference title in the living room of my cousins’ house. With my uncle being a long time Rockets fan, the games were always on at his house. Once I experienced the excitement of a playoff game, I followed the Rockets into that year (1985)’s championship series.

Admittedly, something other than the excitement of the games kept me watching.

petersenOh, #43, Jim Petersen, with an ‘e’, not ‘o,’ how I loved that name, that face, and those shorts!

I became a fan fast. I watched every game I could. I kept binders, organized by seasons, of newspaper clippings about the Rockets, especially when Petersen was mentioned. But since the majority of the games were on during homework hours (I was in elementary school), my mom would not let me watch them. The loyal fan that I was and determined to catch every game live, I furtively hid a small radio inside my desk drawer with its volume turned audible just to me but not to my mom passing outside my door to check on me. In the event that my mom does come into my room, I closed the drawer and spoke to her loudly so that the cheering from radio could not be heard.

I also drew and colored this logo more often than I can remember. To me, this is the Rockets logo.


From the days of the Twin Towers


to the new era of TMac and Yao,


we have only won two back-to-back championships¬† in 1994 and 1995. Since then (actually, 1997) the Rockets has never made it past the first round again–until NOW. This is huge for us.

Fast forward to 2009, I am still a Houston fan. I like to believe that I am still the loyal and hardcore fan as I was back in elementary school, just not exhibiting those qualities the same way. I don’t draw or color the team logo anymore (the new one is not very drawable anyway); I don’t collect newspaper clippings; I don’t even have any Rockets gears. So on this historic day, I decided not to just sit at home and cheer at the television, but take my enthusiasm out to my uncaring community instead.

I marched down to a local sports bar alone, unabashedly displaying my homemade vintage Rockets t-shirt, ordered a beer, a huge mound of nachos, and quietly waited for my game to start. The Celtics/Bulls game went into three over times, so my game was not broadcast until the second half! The only thing to do was to keep stuffing my mouth with nachos and half-heartedly cheered on the Bulls, the underdog. Once my game started, I made more noise and commotion than the bar had heard the entire afternoon even though it was not nearly as exciting as the Celtics/Bulls game. The bartender, who initially laughed at my makeshift team shirt, was won over by my loyal enthusiasm and jokingly refused to let me leave.


Houston won by a healthy margin of 92-76, dispatching the Trailblazers and advancing themselves to face the Lakers in Round 2. It will be a tough series ahead, but for now, let’s enjoy the victory and the sweetness of it all.