• Hawaii Kai Farmers' Market Options

    With the exception of the Saturday farmer's market at Kapiolani Community College(KCC), Oahu's selection for farm to table agriculture has shrunk.  Fewer farmers are finding it profitable to attend these markets and as interest dwindles, the audience likewise gets smaller.  It's a self-fulfilling outcome.

    Still, Costco can't fulfill all of a household's food needs.  I often find myself needing fresh Thai basil or a bundle of cilantro.  If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make the trek to KCC on Saturday morning.  More likely than not, however, I'll end up going to my favorite open market: the City's one-hour event at the Hawaii Kai Park and ride.

    The City's People's Open Market runs from 1pm to 2pm on Saturdays in Hawaii Kai, at the Park and Ride near the dog park.  Parking is ample and the selection is usually pretty good: mostly food staples like the type you can get in Chinatown.  On a typical Saturday you can buy daikon, chinese parsley, chives, watercress and any other number of those vegetables not easily obtained.

    I also like the Friends of Kaiser High School farmer's market on Tuesdays.  It runs from 4pm to 7pm at the school's parking lot.  Again, there is ample parking and access is fairly good.  Selection at Kaiser's farmer's market is limited.  Kay's produce stand is always there, however.  I highly recommend it for its fresh basil.  Without fail, the basil is fresh and full.  You can choose from either sweet or Thai basil.

    Olay Thai restaurant also has a booth at Kaiser High School's market.  If you're having a craving for a Thai plate lunch, sticky rice, spring rolls, green papaya salad or an iced coffee, this is the place to go  There's a regular following of customers who have made it part of their routine.

    Recenly added, Kaiser also has fresh Waimanalo eggs directly from the farm, as well as rice milled that day or the day before.

    Finally, if you're looking for those Chinatown-like vegetables and can't make it to the Saturday open market, the Hawaii Kai Towne Center also hosts a stand behind Panda Express, facing the marina.  It runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m.– 3:00 p.m.  I haven't visited it in a while, but the last time I was there, the stand had about two dozen or so different items, including ripe papaya.

  • On Oahu, registered voters may vote at Honolulu Hale or Kapolei Hale from 8am to 4pm Monday through Saturday.  Parking is available at both locations.  Early voting locations are open until November 5.

    Early Walk-in Voting

  • Print Media Emoji newspaper emoji emoticon newspaper emoticon

    Remember when Honolulu had a morning AND an evening newspaper?

    Rarely do I diss technology.  In almost every instance, technology has brought us closer together and shortened the time between processes.  In this case, however, it seems to have killed local news.

    We've come full circle.  Back in the early part of last century, news traveled slowly, often transmitted through inefficient means such as over the fence of your neighbors' yard.  These days, unless your retired neighbor is livestreaming it, you'll probably get your local news the same way.

    To compile the East Oahu weekly news update, I've devised a long list of different techniques for extracting local news over what should be a more efficient internet.  Even then, I still miss important news that was published timely.  On this, I blame Google.  Yet at the same time, I haven't found any search engine as effective as Google.  Go figure.

    Part of the blame is just the cost of internet success.  With 60 trillion webpages indexed and growing, Google can't crawl every site every minute.  A bigger part of the blame however, comes from individuals whom game the system, trying to figure out Google's ranking algorithm at every turn.  These people are experts in the booming field of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

    These SEO experts are part marketing guy, part snake oil salesman.  Behind-the-scenes detail is where running a website gets complicated.  Good content and good writing don't count if you can't be found or if users perceive you as clickbait, which is why I'm baffled as to why the Star Advertiser still runs behind a paywall; ditto for the Pacific Business News.  

    Recently, I subscribed to the Star Advertiser.  After the introductory period ran out, I cancelled.  I gave it my best shot, but I found that the paper version was inconvenient: I couldn't find the parts I wanted quickly.  Surprisingly, I couldn't find these parts on their included online subscription either.

    Usually, my go-to trick is to use Google to search a site's content when there is no search bar, or where the search bar does not turn up the results you are looking for.  The syntax in Google is, site: followed by the domain name, e.g. site:CNN.com (no spaces between site: and the domain).  Because Star-Advertiser is a subscription only site, I couldn't do that.  That's when I resorted to the entirely free option of Star-Advertiser state library access.  Sadly, the free option was better than the paid.

    What happened next nearly makes me cry.  I received not one, but five calls soliciting my renewal.  Really? When I say it makes me want to cry, it's not because I was particularly bothered by the calls, but rather I was saddened by the realization that they're in a state of denial. 

    As far as what will happen to Hawaii's press, I don't know.  I know I'm eternally grateful to sites like Civil Beat which just recently gave up all hope of being self-sustaining and became a non-profit instead.  I just don't know if it's inherently just or long-term feasible.  (Note to self and others: don't forget to DONATE.)

     Twitter: The newsroom floor. Facebook???

    Twitter isn't news.  It's more like being on the newsroom floor.  Twitter is where to go when the President has a "big announcement."  For example, several hours before Barack Obama's announcement in 2011, Twitter had leaked that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.  Of course, Twitter doesn't always have it right.  That's why it is the newsroom floor: a place you want to be when news may come out, the gossip mill around the water cooler.  Sometimes, Twitter can be dangerous for tweeters.  Take, for instance, Ryan Lochte lying -- not to the international public -- but in a private remark his mother.  That, in turn, led to this tweet, which led to big news, the fallout which continues today.

    Hawaii is not really on the bandwagon with the Twitter-newsroom-floor trend.  Here, Twitter is used sporadically -- more as a means for publicity than news.  One area I can say Hawaii uses Twitter in an outstanding way is with its #HiTraffic hashtag.  Official government agencies, namely the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), are behind the hashtag's widespread use.  If you want to check up-to-date traffic conditions, just search #HiTraffic.

    The lack of Twitter usage leaves me struggling to find news.  Its alternative, Facebook, just doesn't appeal to me, and quite frankly I've only found it good for seeing the latest pictures of my friends' cats and kids.  On the flip side of that, I've found it a good place that -- if you're not careful who you "friend" -- lends itself to trolling and uncivil comments.  Lastly, I just don't trust Facebook.  Since the start, Facebook has been about monetizing the site, sometimes at the cost of simply assuming everything belongs to it.

    As if to make the point, just yesterday, Facebook did a flip-flop now claiming it is a social site and not a media site, as they had once declared.  No doubt, that came from the fact that Facebook fired the humans that filter the news and the algorithm immediately posted fake news at the top of users feeds

    What Now? Emoji confused face emoji emoticon confused face emoticon

    A decade ago, a journalist friend correctly predicted the polarization of internet news, almost a natural extension of the "if it bleeds, it leads" mantra of broadcast news.  In a world where truth counts less than clicks, extremism has reached levels we never imagined.  Pillars of the media world have been separated into different camps: Fox pandering to the right, with MSNBC pandering to the left.  Recently, the mainstream media's divergence from political neutrality shocked even me.  When compiling a list of balanced news outlets for my son, I briefly considered adding Mother Jones to the list of neutral bias outlets.  How far have we deviated from politics-neutral reporting when Mother Jones makes the list? (Although, for the record, I find Mother Jones' analysis always centered on fact and not sensationalism, and carefully vetted before publication unlike more well-known counterparts.)

    National news aside, local news struggles to find a way to remain both profitable and relevant in the giant sea of the World Wide Web.  News that may be useful and helpful to residents of a small area like Hawaii get pummelled in Google rank.  Naturally, that causes local outlets to scour the web for irrelevant stories that will raise its internet visibility.  That in turn, buries the news we really needed.

    I don't have a solution.  Or, maybe my solution is to scour the web for you so you know where to find East Oahu / Hawaii Kai relevant information.  Or, maybe my longer term hope is that the myriad of technologies we have somehow find a natural settling as a true troll-free virtual community.  Or, maybe that's just wishful thinking.

  • Just posted at DOE Hawaii: Military Recruiting Opt-Out Notice [pdf]

    "The Federal Every Student Succeeds Act, (ESSA) requires the Department of Education (DOE) to provide to military recruiters, upon their request, the name, address, and telephone number of secondary school students. Although military recruiters focus their efforts on high school juniors and seniors, the law allows for the gathering of this information from the broad category of "secondary" students. Secondary school students are defined as students enrolled in middle, intermediate and high schools. It also applies to students in grades 7 through 12 in combination elementary/secondary schools (e.g., K-7, K-8, K-9, K-11, K-12, 7-12). If any secondary student or the parent/guardian of a secondary student does not want the DOE to provide the requested information to military recruiters, the secondary student or the parent/guardian must "opt out" of providing such information. To do this, a legible, signed written request needs to be submitted to the school office. The request must contain the school name and the student's name and birth date. Although not legally required, the DOE has developed an "opt out" form for military recruiting to facilitate response from students or their parents/guardians."


    Military Opt-Out Form

  • I just returned from an all-day conference on Hawaii's public education system.  The symposium, called the 2016 Hawaii Education Summit, was hosted by Governor David Y. Ige's office.  It was open to any stakeholder in public education.

    I'd like to start off with a heartfelt mahalo to the Governor, the First Lady and the office staff.  Putting together an event of this size in just a few months is phenomenal for anyone.  It's nearly unprecedented in government.

    As for the event itself, it was well-organized and quite well attended with 1,000 participants.  Material was pertinent and informative.  Best of all, everyone -- including parents and students -- had the opportunity to provide direct feedback to the Administration.

  • If you are a Hawaii resident and not already registered to vote, please register for the Hawaii primary election.  The deadline for registration is July 14. 



    The Friends of Kaiser PTSA just held a plant exchange at their Tuesday Farmer's Market.  It was definitely a success and we'll be doing it again on August 2, 2016.  So, until further notice, FIRST TUESDAY, 4-7 PM, school parking lot, we'll be there.  

    Here's how it works.  You bring a plant and exchange it for something else.  Or, you bring pots or other gardening supplies.  Alternatively, just leave a donation to the PTSA in an amount of your discretion.  It's all good and everyone benefits.

    I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout and participation at our first event.  We may have had over dozen or so people show up with exchanges.  I even received these plants shown above, which by some miracle remained at the end of the event.  They're going to be perfect for my natural rock landscaping: a little color among a sea of red rock and lush green ferns.

    The point is that there's a little something for everyone.  The Christmas cactus brought in was scooped up promptly.  The pink pommelo (jabon) has a new yard.  The mint, thyme and green onion went to homes needing culinary herbs.  You just never know what will turn up.  We even got a fresh supply of pots.  

    I've filled them with new plants for August and here's what I'm planning on bringing.

    • Papaya (seedling) - highly prolific.  We've been eating fruit and giving away for years now.
    • Alocasia - Excellent landscape plant, tolerates indoor sun.
    • Lemongrass - Good to have on hand for SE Asian cuisine.
    • Oregano - Excellent edible ground cover.  Grows well in partial shade.
    • Ti Leaf (green) - Lovely tropical plant for landscaping, leis and cooking.

    The list is subject to change, of course, but I'll keep this post updated so you have the latest information.  Again, for those that participated this week, MAHALO.  It was a huge success and thanks to generous donations -- both in plants and cash -- there's also some extra money for the PTSA to use in the school community.



  • If you're visiting Hawaii, the best unpublished bargain is our state library.  If you're a resident and you don't have a card -- what?  Lolo? Go get one now. It's completely free for residents and just a nominal fee for non-residents.

    There are two types of library cards available for those who are not residents of Hawaii. The $25.00 non-resident card is good for five years and may be renewed for an additional $25.00. The $10.00 non-resident card is good for 3 months and may be renewed for $10.


    The only catch is that you need to apply in person.

    If you're like me and you like reading magazines, you can't go wrong.  There are nearly 200 titles, all available online through Zinio for reading on your iPad or Android and without charge if you use your library card. You can [browse] here.

    You can also borrow e-books  or audiobooks from Overdrive [browse] and OneClick Digital [browse]

    or even more amazingly, borrow a Netbook loaded with the MS Office suite.

    I don't understand why our taxpayer dollars go toward subsidizing non-residents, but maybe the library pays a flat rate and also receives federal dollars toward some services. Who knows?  All I know is that I'm into promoting literacy regardless of the source.

  • I've told this story so many times, it seems it's finally time for me to put it to paper.  Hawaii hoarders aren't really crazy, they're just shell-shocked.

    By now, most of us are too young to remember the 1971 West Coast Dock Strike.  I barely remember it.  In the haze of youth, I recall it as being concurrent with the Oil Embargo of 1973, but it wasn't.  The dock strike started in July 1971, had a cooling off period from October 1971 to January 1972 then resumed again until it was settled in February 1972.

    Here's what you need to know.  Hawaii ran out of toilet paper.  It also ran out of paper towels and rice.  To this day, many older kama'aina are determined to avoid the indignity and have dedicated an entire closet to paper goods.  At the same time, they've also picked up the habit of hoarding other items -- just in case.

    Just remember, Hawaii may be the land of Aloha, but that doesn't apply if you're taking the last package of toilet paper.

  • Twice this week I've been affected by new IATA battery shipping restrictions.  First,  I was unable to buy a camera on Amazon; then I was unable to buy replacement batteries for another camera.  Beginning April 1, 2016 lithium batteries have been mostly prohibited from air shipment, except as accessories to a device or as hand-carry by passengers.

     It's a problem for most of us, but clearly not for Amazon, which has probably been itching to limit the types of items that get shipped to Hawaii.  To be sure, lately Amazon has restricted more and more items from Hawaii shipment.  For instance, just yesterday I was unable to ship the dangerous -- yet incredibly useful -- Post-It flag.

     Clearly, when one reads the IATA guidelines, shippers are able to send cameras as part of a package.  Further, non-lithium batteries are still allowed air freight.  Still that doesn't change that Amazon has blocked shipment of all cameras to Hawaii.  That really changes the economic landscape here.  Most certainly it affects product choice as well as product price, with the first going down as the second rises.  I think this may just be the tip of the iceberg for rapid price increases in the isles.


    Update: I was able to find that elusive camera battery at Battery Bill's.  The price was reasonable and the customer service was fantastic.  Check there first.  Other likely sources such as Radio Shack and various camera stores either didn't have the battery or the price was astronomically high. 

  • I'm in heaven.  Today I stopped by at Don Quixote on Kaheka Street and discovered that Book Off used bookstore has opened inside the supermarket.  I bought a set of Karuta from them.

    Karuta is a child's game for learning the Japanese alphabet.  Players race to find the right card as the leader (who has a separate set of reading cards corresponding to the alphabet) reads a passage containing the letter the kids are looking for.  It's a great game concept I've adopted for other learning tasks too, like for teaching the kids multiplication.

    Book Off sells used books and other media such as videos, CDs, and video games.  A little more than half of their stock is Japanese.  Book Off has been in business for some time at Shirokiya.  However,  with the new renovation they opted to move to both the Don Quixote store and Ward Warehouse (next to Hakubundo),  

    My great news is that I scored a practically new karuta set for me and the kids for just $5.  I'll have to read and understand the cards before using them, and that will help my Japanese studies.  The kids will learn from the game itself, where they will race for the right card.

    Book Off is not the only source of great printed material for learning Japanese.  Hawaii Kai Library has a used bookstore in their basement   It is run by the Friends of Hawaii Kai Library and it has a plethora of material, mostly in English but with a handful of Japanese books as well.  Of the Japanese books, a good number of them are children's books written primarily in hiragana and katakana.  Kanji is usually accompanied by alphabet script known as furigana, essentially clues for the reader.  Amazingly, these books usually cost no more than a dollar, with some as inexpensive as 25 cents.

    Another great source of printed material is NHK's "easy news" website.  This site contains a lot of Kanji, but it's all accompanied by furigana.  Additionally, it's also a transcript of audio which you can play while reading along.  For adults like me, it's a good way to learn relevant material you might actually get a chance to use.  As much as I like reading children's books from the Hawaii Kai Library bookstore, I doubt I'll ever have to discuss talking dogs, cats, and mice with other adults.  This site takes me a bit longer to translate because the vocabulary is mostly unfamiliar to me.  In any case, it's completely free and there are usually 3-4 current event pieces for every weekday.  

    (For translation, I like Jisho.org.  I just cut and paste the Kanji from NHK to find what I need to know.  A word of caution on Japanese translation, Google Translate isn't a very good source and I would never use it to directly translate from English to Japanese and send it out.  For individual words, Google will work in a pinch, but I still prefer Jisho.org.)



  • It's a pretty amazing statistic.  Niu Valley Middle School, serving grades 6-8, grew 86 percent over the past ten years.

    Fortunately some relief is on the way.  The State Legislature just appropriated $3 million in capital improvements for the school.

    If you're curious -- as I am -- about time series data for Hawaii's public schools, check out NCES data from the Federal Government here. [http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/elsi/]

  • Great news:  College enrollment is absolutely achievable after graduation from Hawaii public schools.  

    From the latest data available, graduates of University High, Kalani and Kaiser were the most likely to be enrolled in college 16 months later..  For these schools, the Class of 2013 16-month College Enrollment Rate (%) holds at 91, 85 and 84 percent respectively. Also among Hawaii public schools with at least three out of four, i.e. 75%, enrolled in college are Hawaii Technology Academy, Roosevelt, Moanalua, Kalaheo and Mililani.  For more detail, click on this spreadsheet link.



  • Top Ranked Public Schools for STRIVE HI testing, 2014-2015 School Year

    Source file: Hawaii DOE (spreadsheet)




    1. Waikiki

    2.  Momilani

    3.  Noelani

    Middle School

    1. Niu Valley

    2. Kaimuki

    3. Voyager (Charter)

    High School

    1. Mililani

    2. Thompson Academy (Charter)

    3. Roosevelt



    1. Kaelepulu

    2.  Waikiki

    3.  Noelani

    Middle School

    1. Niu Valley

    2. Moanalua

    3. Innovations (Charter)

    High School

    1. Roosevelt

    2. Moanalua

    3. Kalani




  • Recently I received a number of inquiries regarding math tutors in Hawaii. I'm looking for one for my kids too, but I also remembered that the University of Hawaii provides free tutors through their Online Learning Academy  (OLA). Their generous hours are from Monday through Friday: 9am to 10pm; Sunday: 5pm to 10pm and Closed on all State Holidays  That means that even your last-minute child can get help from OLA.

    Here are the details you need to know:

    • Eligibility: All Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) students statewide.
    • Tutors:  Undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Hawaii majoring in Math and Science related fields.
    • How to receive tutoring: Sign-in at their website.  Login with just a first name.  The first available tutor will be matched with you.

    That's it.  You can use OLA tutoring for help on a science fair project, for test review, homework help and more.

    By the way, OLA also offers writing services.  Go to the same website and login to receive an online appointment for a later time.

  • Once again, by accident, I happened upon a useful report from the Hawaii Department of Education.  This report (attachment in PDF available at the end of the article) is for the 2013-2014 school year and provides metrics and demographics for Niu Valley Middle school.  A full set of reports for all Hawaii public schools is available at: http://arch.k12.hi.us/school/ssir/ssir.html

    The report is a tight and comprehensive overview of each of the schools and contains vital information about the facility.  For Niu Valley, the report indicates that enrollment is up. Fall enrollment for 2013-2014 was 891 versus 816 for the 2012-2013 school year.  Demographically, the school is a quarter (25.5 percent) White, 1.7% Black, 1.7% Hispanic and the remainder primarily some iteration of Asian or Pacific Islander.Student Ethnicity Niu Valley Middle School 2013 2014


    Parental education, a statistic I track because of the correlation between educational standards and student performance, looks much like the Census figures reported earlier.  The source for these data are also from the Census, so one would expect a great degree of similarity showing the higher levels of education in the Hawaii Kai, Kuliouou, Niu Valley and Aina Haina areas.

    Comunity Educational Attainment Level for Niu Valley Middle

    These are just quick observations and snippets of the report.  As a whole, this report has a lot to offer, and is a quick read for understanding the foundation of the school and its neighboring community.  Included in the report are teacher, parent and student assessments of school quality, discipline (suspensions), and test scores.  The report was released January 9, 2015.



    The U.S. Department of Education has named six Hawaii semi-finalists for this year's 2015 Presidential Scholar award. They are:

    • HI ‐ Hana ‐ Jack V. Wolfgramm, Wolfgramm Home School
    • HI ‐ Honolulu ‐ Andrew M. Chun, Roosevelt High School
    • HI ‐ Honolulu ‐ Tianzhen Nie, Kaiser High School
    • HI ‐ Honolulu ‐ Liz M. Tenrai, Punahou School
    • HI ‐ Kamuela ‐ Harmony M. Graziano, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
    • HI ‐ Kaneohe ‐ Sierra K. Hirayama, Kamehameha High School‐Kapalama

    The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Each year, up to 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

    Congratulations to these high school seniors on their year of achievement.

  • Parents, imagine that your government gave you tax dollars to custom fit and finance your child’s K-12 education.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Arizona did just that in 2011 and Florida followed suit in 2014.   The way it works is this:  The government gives you 90 percent of what it would have spent and you design your child’s education around it.  Whatever you don’t spend you can save for future educational use.  The plan can be as flexible as your State Legislature designs.  For instance, in Arizona, items such as therapeutic horseback lessons may be eligible.

    Conservatives and Libertarians are wild about Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) and, apparently, so too are cash-strapped States.  At least ahalf-dozen states from Virginia to Oklahoma will bring a bill to the floor soon; Georgia’s vote is imminent.

    On its face, it’s a great idea: a real win-win.  

  • Hawaii plants are beautiful and lush.  You'll find information here on vareties that appear at the Kaiser plant exchange, as well as on the exhange and sale itself.  Every first Tuesday, Friends of Kaiser HS holds a plant exchange and sale in the school parking lot.  Bring a plant, take a plant, leave a donation, it's all up to you.