Thursday, May 26, 2016

No news

My last epidural injections were a failure. I will see the 'pain doc' again on the 1st with hopes that she can come up with something to remove this pain from my life. The pain just sucks the energy out of me. And I've had 8 years of it.

There's the complaining. Now for a mention of what I'm doing when I'm not complaining. It's not much; I'm still working on the family photographs. And when I'm not doing that I am tracing our family tree. Is it 'tracing'? That doesn't sound right. Let's say I'm finding out about our ancestors.

I need to find some photos of our time on the "Big Island'. That is my favorite among the three I've visited. We rented an apartment (weekly) in Hilo and I was smart enough to not rent a convertible that time. It rains quite a bit in Hilo...

I'll get to that as soon as I find the photos.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Back to square one...

I just finished re-registering to vote. I have been an Independent voter for a long time, having left the Democratic Party about ten years go. And before today, primary votes weren't all that important. The candidates were chosen long before the primary season ended. Not this year!

Luckily, I can register or re-register to vote by using the California web site for registration. It took me all of five minutes to become a Democrat again. And since it's so easy, I will become Independent after elections are over.

I left the Democrats because they were giving up their liberal roots and heading to the middle. Now I'm stuck for a choice among the Democrats. Hillary has been accused of everything from theft to murder. None of the charges have ever stuck and I see most of that as misogynistic mud flinging. I'm certainly not opposed to having a woman as President. Her gender doesn't enter into my decisions. But her cozy relations with big business is not to my liking. Now Bernie has a lot of truth in all that he says. And I would support him if he was not running against Trump. I don't think he has he 'political' strength to win against him. Right now I will be voting for Hillary though she is not my favorite. My favorite isn't even running, In fact, I don't even know my favorite's name yet. I hope to know it for the 2020 elections.

Back to the voter registration process...I think everyone would agree that voter registration is a mess all over the 50 states. I would like to see a law that mandates the states must use a federal standard for voter registration if the election is a federal one. If it's a state, county or city election, then they can use any old rules they want. But if it's federal, everyone should have a voice and in some states that voice has been taken away by registration laws meant to discourage voting by the poor. Republicans would re-instate poll taxes if they could...or go all the way back to colonial times when you had to own land if you wanted to vote. Yes, this has been suggested again.      

Some more tropical island stuff...

It's been awhile since my last post and in that time I've found out that the last epidural injections into various & sundry vertebra has been unsuccessful. This is the second failure. I will see the pain doc in a few weeks and we'll discuss our options. In the meantime, life goes on.

As I've stated many times before, I have a huge collection of images. And the range of subjects is from A to Z. I simply collect them. The favorites are images of historical objects or projects, such as building Boulder Dam, The building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the famous Denny Regrade of Seattle, building Grand Coulee Dam, the San Francisco earthquake and on and on...building railroad bridges in Alaska? Yes, I have those. Images of the early trolley system of San Francisco? Of course I have them. Billboards located in New Jersey? I've got them! 300 plus images of ash trays. True. I could go on and on as I have close to 17,000 images. I have ASD, or autism spectrum disorder and collecting is important to me. Not because of the subjects as much as it's about the collecting itself.

Anyway...I was looking through my collections this morning. (the images are located on the clouds of Amazon, Google and Flickr) I ran across some photos of our younger selves as we were vacationing on the island of Kauai. Two weeks ago, in this blog, I had talked about our getting on a plane in Oahu and departing for Kauai. I will continue...

We landed at the small airport in Lihue and found our way over to the Avis car rental counter. I began to order my usual business class vehicle, a 4 door cheap car. The salesman interrupted me and told me that I could have a Chrysler convertible for $5 a day cheaper than the one I was planning on. A convertible? A beautiful island and a convertible seemed to go together so I agreed. Did they have a red one? Yes, they did! Of course I ordered that one. When we went out to put our luggage in the car I noticed that the Avis lot was filled with Chrysler convertibles. They must must had 50 of them! No wonder it was such a bargain.

Now I had to find my way to our vacation hotel. I had ordered a room based on an ad in the Yellow pages. The ad stated that the hotel overlooked Nawiliwili Bay and that was not too far away from the airport.

The first order of business was to drop the top of the car so that we could really enjoy the tropical air. A quick look at the map and we left the airport. 15 minutes later we were pulling into the parking lot of the Garden Island Inn. If you click on the link above, you can see that it is a very nice hotel. We didn't know any of that when we went to check in. And as we were doing that, the manager wanted to know if we would be interested in renting their finest suite; the Lanai Suite? He described it and gave me a price that astonished me; just $90+ a day. That was just $10 more than the room I had reserved. I took it! The suite was located directly over the managers office and took up the whole upper floor of one wing. It had two bedrooms, a 'living' room, a kitchen and a lanai. When you opened the large sliding doors to the lanai, it felt as if the whole suite was open to the Pacific. It was magnificent. And we could see the Marriott across the way, where the guests had the same view as we did  and they were paying 3 times as tips. I had been in that particular Marriott before and knew just how sterile it felt.

For some reason, I've always had good luck when choosing the 'different' hotel when traveling. I have always tried to stay away from the big chain hotels like Marriott.

Here on Kauai we were quite free to wandering on the immaculate grounds of the Marriott and here's a photo of the harbor from the 9th hole of their golf course. No, I wasn't playing. In fact, no one was on the course and we were free to wander. The golfing guests must have been relaxing in their air conditioned rooms.

We had places to go and see but we had no guide. So we just drove and turned here and there as we felt moved to. If the road looked interesting, we turned onto it. And in this way, we found a small shopping center that had a restaurant that looked promising. And it was good! We had a wonderful brunch while sitting outside on their lanai. I can't tell you how to get there and I don't remember the name of the place.

After more exploration we decided to visit Waimea Canyon the next day; early. And so we did, driving up the twisting road ascending the mountain while in a tropical jungle. Then the vegetation seemed to thin out and change as climbed higher. I pulled over at an overlook and Laurae took this photo of me sitting in our red car.

By the way, we saw dozens upon dozens of these red cars. Avis was doing well here.

Below are more photos of the island and one of Laurae as we made our way to the top. And at the top we found fog and cold air. Up went the top of the car and we put the heater on. We found a small cafe selling coffee and we stopped there to check our map and decide on a route out of the cold.

Here Laurae is braving the cold air as we looked down on the beautiful island.  You can see the fog lurking right behind her.

Somewhere in my photo collection I have photos of Waimea canyon and it is very beautiful.

 We had four days on the island and then it was time to fly back to Oahu and then take our flight back to San Francisco and Sacramento. In those four days we ate well, slept well and relaxed while visiting all of the usual tourist spots. It's a beautiful island and we would love to come back But I would have to have the deluxe suite at the Garden Island Inn booked and waiting for us. Plus a red convertible!


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In the past

I enjoy genealogy. I think I started back in 2004 with a visit to Ancestry dot com. Isn't that where everyone starts? Then it was an on again, off again, relationship with my dead ancestors. I may have mentioned this hobby of mine in an ancient post here. I don't think I'll go looking for it. Trust me. I did post something. I believe it was about 'Black Agnes', the Scottish noblewoman who defended the family castle successfully. She was an ancestor of mine; or so my amateur sleuthing tells me.

Last week I was looking up many of the 'Seymour' family trails (my paternal grandmother 'Nana' was a Seymour) and found that I had a very well known (at the time) ancestor that had started a war; all by himself. That was "King Phillip", a Sachem of the Wampanoag tribe, and the war was aptly named the King Phillip's War. My great uncle was Wamsutta, also known as Alexander Pokanoket, as he was called by New England colonists, was the eldest son of Massasoit Ousa Mequin of the Pokanoket Tribe and Wampanoag nation. King Phillip and the foolish colonists were responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 colonists and 6,000 Indians from various tribes. Their actions removed the Wampanoag people from memory until just a little over 100 years ago. 40% of the Wampanoags were killed and the remainder sold into slavery. But 'King Phillip' had a daughter, Ann Phillip, who was married to John Starkweather. They had a daughter, Mary Starkweather, who married John Stanton.  And they had a daughter, Lydia and on and on it went until I became the 9th great grandson of King Phillip.
If it hadn't been for the attitude of the colonists, (they didn't think they should pay for the land) the whole war could have been averted.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

More from the islands or Hawai'i lll

After I had been on Oahu for about a week I had completed most of my analysis of the costs involved in the contracts that the company had on the books. I only had a few more jobs to look at and I already knew that, ultimately, our company would purchase them. We had branch offices all around the country but to have one in Hawai'i was pretty exciting...for me. I would be the one to set up the estimating system on their computers and then train the estimator(s). And so that was what happened. I flew home after two weeks and then there was the normal grind of getting on an airplane every Monday morning and returning every Friday night as I went from one boring branch office to another. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but I did dream of returning to Oahu and made tentative plans to, somehow. make that trip into a vacation for my wife and I.

My oldest daughter had been to the island of Kauai once and had told us that she thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. Okay. I knew that what I had seen of the island during my 6 hour trip some month ago had made me want to explore that small piece of tropical paradise further. I made that part of my tentative plans.

A few more months went by and then I received the call I had been waiting for. The deal had gone through and the business on Oahu was now another branch office of ours. And I was needed there to begin training! I called them and made the arrangements to meet with the estimator. Then I called my wife and told her that it had happened and we were going to Hawai'i; Kauai to be exact. I was going to be in the Oahu office for a week and then she would fly over on a Friday. I would meet her at the airport and we would go the inter island airline and fly off to Kauai. I already had a return ticket and had just changed the departure time to coincide with my wife's round trip departure. Perfect!

Off to Oahu and this time I would stay at the Ala Moana Hotel as the small Japanese hotel had no vacancies. When I got off the plane I made my way, confidently, through the airport, over to the car rental and then to the office. I was not a tourist anymore. I was a businessman. Okay, that's not quite true. It's very hard to be 'all business' when you are in Hawai'i. Driving down Ala Moana Blvd. I smelled the sweet air from the trade winds and enjoyed the most temperate climate. No AC for me.

I renewed my friendship with the office staff. We were now equals as our company was all employee owned. Then I set up the computers with our system and prepared for the first day of training. Tomorrow. I had spent 5 hours sitting on a plane and I was not going to spend another 5 hours sitting in an office.

I decided to visit the world famous Ala Moana Shopping Center. It was close enough to my hotel for me to walk there and I did. And then I walked all over the shopping center. It was a fascinating place as all of the pricing was in Japanese Yen first with the dollar equivalent below that. I noticed that I towered over 90% of the customers. At this time, Hawai'i was the premier honeymoon destination for Japanese newlyweds. It was during this time that I noticed someone taller than I, and I'm 6'-2". This man was tall, bronzed and was wearing a dark green 'lavalava', which is a sarong for men from Polynesian or Oceanic societies. He was very impressive looking and obviously Polynesian. I began to wonder if I could pull that off? Could I wear a lavalava to the office the next day? I came to my senses and decided that it wasn't the look for me.

That evening I drove down to Waikiki to see the sights. I also wanted to see the sand from Manhattan Beach CA. Yes, the sand at Waikiki came from Manhattan Beach, my hometown. Monied interests had come to Manhattan in the 20's and made a deal for barge loads of sand to be delivered to Waikiki as the sand there was not of the quality and quantity needed for the frontage of the luxury hotels there. It's hard to imagine towing barges filled with sand across thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean.

The next day it was back to business and I began my training sessions. This was always hard work as I had to convince an estimator that the spreadsheet program they had used for years was going to be dumped and replaced by some unknown software. In my time as a trainer and part of a software development team I had learned that most estimators considered the PC to be an unnecessary desk ornament. Hawai'i was no different and I had to struggle all week to convince the estimator that the software would help him and not hinder him. We made plans to come back in 3 months time.

In the meantime, I had vacation plans! I made my way to the airport and dropped off my car. My wife's plane was on time and we were soon in the air again, on our way to Kauai, where I had made a reservation at a small hotel that I had found via the Yellow Pages...

More later...