Crooked Rainbow Trails

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National and Global, United States

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hawaiian Overtures

For better or worse, I've spent sometime  in Hawaii (Kauai). There are some things I've learned that I will secretly share with you.

My macro observation is that Arizona and Kauai share similar major issues. Good jobs are scare. There is little 'sense of community' due to a transient population; too many part-time wealthy people, who remain greedy and isolated; a mostly poor native population, and low wages with no benefits. There is also a certain hedonistic undertone, which perplexes me frankly.
Other then that, there is some humor in all of this:

The residents have recently learned that cilantro is the same as Chinese parsley.

I ran into one "Gandhi wanna be" who drove a Lexus. I am sure there are more. Go figure that mentality!

The residents know which market sells poi on which days.

No matter how you slice it: Poi is still Poi, whether I eat it in Hawaii or West Africa. Pass the organic pizza please and do not hold the pepperoni.

I met two guys with Phd's. They were both pretty dumb. Go figure.

Don't confuse the Hanalei Pier with the one in Santa Monica!

The state bird is still the mosquito.

Nude beaches should have signs. And I'll take my camera if I want to!

The words "Awesome, Dude, 'you got it' 'right-on', organic, sustainable", are totally overused. For some, it's their only vocabulary, from what I could ascertain.

Everyone is into 'organic and sustainable" living, but few actually know what it entails. Just sounds good in a group of dudes.

Wealthy people from the mainland move to the island and in one week, they are 'healers' or yoga experts. They say, 'that's how we give back to the community'.

They can handle shoyu with green mango, li hing mui gummy bears, raw egg on hot rice, and pearl tea (carnation milk in hot water with sugar) with creme crackers.

The condiments at the table are shoyu, ketchup, chili peppah watah, and kimchee. Also, takuwan, Hawaiian salt, slice onion, and pickle onion.

They go to Maui and their luggage home includes potato chips, manju, cream puffs, and guri guri for omiyage.

A balanced meal has three starches: rice, macaroni, and bread.

They know 101 ways to fix their rubber slippers -- 50 using tape, 50 using glue, and one using a stick to poke the strap back in.

They sometimes use their open car door for a dressing room.

They wear two different color slippers together and they don't mind.

Nice clothes means a T-shirt without puka.

They are barefoot in most of their pictures.

They have a slipper tan.

Their only suit is a bathing suit.

They drive barefoot.

They have at least five Hawaiian bracelets.

They never ever, under any circumstances, wear socks with slippers, or an aloha shirt that matches their wife's muumuu.

They say "I going go for lawnmower da grass" when they mean "I'm going to mow the lawn."

Someone in the family named Boy, Tita, Bruddah, Sonny, Bachan, Taitai, Popo, or Vovo.

They still chant "Hanaokolele" when a friend or co-worker goofs up.

They say "Shtraight," "Shtreet," and "Shtress."

The "Shaka" and the "Stink Eye" are worth a thousand words.

They let other cars ahead of them on the road and they give shaka to everyone who lets them in. (And get mad if someone they let in doesn't say thanks.)

They park junk cars on their lawns and for some reason, watch Television in their garage.

Their philosophy is "Bumbai."

They would rather drag out the compressor and fill that leaking tire every single morning than have it fixed.

The only time they honk their horn is once a year during the safety check.

Owns two types of slippers: da "good slippas" and da "buss-up/stay home slippas."

The resident do not understand the concept of North, South, East, and West, but instead gives directions such as Mile Marker 7, The Safeway, turn off to the lighthouse, and uses landmarks instead of street names.

They take off their slippahs before going into the house.

When it's done, they say "pau!"

They would rather drive an 'island cruiser' then a Mercedes Benz.

When the 'surf is up' nobody goes to work.

There are only two sports: surfing and Frisbee.

AHI Tuna shows up in just about everything you eat

Business meeting never happen on time

The Hawaiian handshake is way too complicated

You need to take at least two showers a day

The pay stinks, but they offer you a plantation shack for 50% off

There is no such thing as a IRS W-2. It's either 1099 or under-the-table.

Forget about any employer-sponsored health insurance or 401K

There is an overabundance of 'meta-physical' types who look at you strangely.

As on the mainland, a business 'handshake' is by no means a 'contract'

Too many people who relo want to look like Gandhi.

If I get one more picture of an isolated beach, I will need to send pics of isolated desert.

For as long as you live there, you are forced to drive on one road, and one road only. And it 'dead-ends' at both ends.

Other then that, in Kauai, the weather is great, the men are good-looking, the women are smart, and all the kids are above average. What else could you ask for?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How'd Education Get to Where it is Today?

As a former high school teacher, early own in my career, I understand some of the present-day challenges faced by families within the current US educational system. Charter schools per se, won't fix the problems that have been inherent in the very structure of the system itself. The problems and challenges just get a 'new face'. You can blame the 'industrial revolution' for current ailments within the system.

As worked shifted out of the agricultural fields and the home, children had to be prepared for factory life. It was at that time, a 'step up' from agrarian work in the fields. The early mine,mill, and factory owners recognized that you could not bring a 'farmer' into an industrialized factory. Young people had to be pre-fitted to the industrial system. The result: mass education. And it worked.

Built on the factory model, mass education taught basic reading,writing,and math skills; some history and english. That was about it. However, beneath this curriculum lay a secondary objective: It consisted, and still does, of three basic 'courses':obedience,punctuality; and rote,repetitive work. Everything the factory owner demanded of his workers. The minor league of the factory environment. It demanded workers who would take orders from a management hierarchy without questioning those orders.

So, from the mid-nineteenth century on, one found a relentless educational progression. Mass education at the time, was a wonderful step forward. Nevertheless, this type of education, machined generations of young people into a pliable, regimented work force as required by the mechanical age and the assembly line work. And all of this worked well for the creation, existence, and success of the Corporation.

In all, these three institutions: Family,education,corporation, created a social fabric that lasts even to this day. Thus, in order to make significant, major changes in education, you would also have to re-define the family and the corporation itself, which is actually occurring within the social fabric of many countries.

Thus, I do not believe that you can simply change the educational system by moving to either private or charter education facilities, if the 'base line' philosophy doesn't change as well. And that's probably not likely to occur in the near term.

For concurring opinion you can read, Alvin Toffler's Future Shock

Saturday, April 30, 2011

That is Amore

I met Marie, my wife, when she was 18. A blond, blue-eyed and vibrant Italian lady, who spoke Italian fluently and was Italian before she was "americano". How things change.
40 years later, the Italian is gone. The pasta is not the same. The old Italians from the family are long gone. My wife speaks only English.
And here we are. Between a rock and that hard place. Our grandparents wanted so badly to be American. They wanted acceptance. Therefore, we could not speak "italian". Only English, my grandmother would say.
We became "americano" hoping and anticipating that acceptance of that life would raise us from the bedrock of Italian peasantry to the heights of American ingenuity. Some of us succeeded. Others made pizza or fixed roads. Or did nothing. My grandfather made wine,which he drank more then sold.Whatever.
The journey has been long and hard for all. I just hope, that after giving up our heritage and our cultural and our music and our wine...that there is actually something there in becoming 'americano'. I still sleep on it. For me, my wife, my children and their children. "The moon has hit my eye, and it is a big pizza-pie"...

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Very Bad Year for Your Wallet: This Year!

Bad weather and global instability are spurring price hikes for everything from cotton to oil.

The worrisome economic news just keeps on coming. Inflation is creeping higher, as prices rise for everything from corn to coffee. The government's Consumer Price Index — a standard measure of how much household goods and services cost — rose 0.4 percent in each of the last two months, the first back-to-back increases that big since the summer of 2008. Now, forecasters say global weather problems and instability in the Middle East could make crude oil, cotton, and other important commodities even more expensive. Here are four ways you may be affected:

Clothing prices, after falling for a decade, are expected to rise about 10 percent this spring, according to the Associated Press. The price of cotton has already more than doubled over the past year. Your cotton underwear will definitely get tighter!

Crude oil prices recently hit a two-year high, as unrest in the Middle East, particularly Libya, fed investor worry about oil production. Gas prices have risen 20 percent over the last year, and could go even higher. Even a Preus won't help the ache on this one. Try a walking-stick.

The cost of staples such as wheat, corn, and sugar has jumped dramatically in recent months, largely because of droughts, floods, and rising demand. Now's the time to plant that Kale and Collards!

Household essentials
Rising fuel and ingredient costs will also translate to higher prices for items such as toothpaste, soap, and batteries. Shower once each week, don't brush your teeth everyday, and don't use anything with a battery.

And that's all the good news fit to print!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scared Penniless

If you are a 'boomer' you should be 'scared penniless' when you retire. The fact is the recent economic situation has destroyed whatever future you have economically. And the government doesn't care, nor does your stock broker or your banker. You are on your own buddy.

Age the oldest baby boomers are turning this year

More than 8.5 million
Projected number of Americans who will be over age 85 in 20 years

Less than 25 percent
Amount the median household headed by someone aged 60 to 62 has of the retirement savings needed to maintain his or her standard of living, according to data from the Federal Reserve. "Inevitably, we find that, for the average person, there is not enough there," says financial adviser Paul Merritt. "The discussion turns out to be: What kind of part-time work do you want to do after you retire?"

About 50 percent
Amount of wealth lost by baby boomer households between 2004 and 2009, due to shrinking 401(k) accounts and the real estate collapse

Only 50 percent
Share of working Americans that have tax-sheltered retirement accounts

75 percent
Number of Americans over 65 whose annual income (including Social Security) is less than $34,000, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. "Furthermore, household income drops precipitously with every decade, and most of the poor in their 80s and 90s are women, who — unless their husbands possessed vast wealth — are very likely to become poorer when they are widowed."

85 percent
Assumed share of a household's pre-retirement income needed to maintain the same standard of living in retirement

Median income, in 2009, for households nearing retirements (with heads aged 60 to 62) that have 401(k)-type accounts

The 85 percent of that salary needed for retirement.

As much as $35,080 a year
Amount Social Security will provide for such a household

Amount needed from other sources to maintain pre-retirement standard of living. "Most 401(k) accounts don't come close to making up that gap,"says E.S. Browning in The Wall Street Journal.

Amount the median 401(k) plan holds, according to the Center for Retirement Research

Amount per year such an account would provide a household, less than 25 percent of the $36,465 needed

9 percent
The current median amount that people contribute to 401(k) plans, including employer contributions, according to Vanguard Group, a leading provider of the plans. "In general, people facing problems today got too little advice, or bad advice," says Browning. "They didn't realize that a 6 percent annual contribution, with a 3 percent company match, might not be enough."

12 to 15 percent
Amount, including employer contribution, that Vanguard recommends people contribute to their 401(k) plan

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another BIG Corporate RIP-OFF=Six Flags

Look at the millions of pay out to people who have no business even being there!!!

Six Flags cuts workforce, 3 top executives

By The Associated Press (AP)

Six Flags Entertainment Corp., the theme park operator that emerged from bankruptcy protection last month, said Monday that three park executives are leaving the company as part of recent layoffs that the company estimates will save it $16 million a year.

The company did not disclose how many jobs were affected in the June 16 reductions, but said the move mainly targeted its New York City and Dallas corporate offices. Six Flags also is moving its CEO to the company's Dallas corporate headquarters. The estimated savings excludes severance and other costs, Six Flags said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The effect of these reductions should bring the company's general and administrative costs more in line, on a percentage of revenue basis, with other companies in the regional theme park industry," the company said in the filing.

Leaving the company are Michael Antinoro, executive vice president of entertainment and marketing, Andrew Schleimer, executive vice president of strategic development and in-park services, and Mark Quenzel, executive vice president of park strategy and management.

The three executives had nearly three years left on their contracts and stand to receive their base salaries throughout that term. Antinoro receives $400,000 a year in salary while Quenzel and Schleimer each are paid $500,000 annually.

Their employment agreements also call for them to receive their target bonus for the past year, which totals $500,000 a year for Antinoro and Quenzel and $400,000 for Schleimer. The three also will receive severance and 12 months of health care and life insurance.

The company, which runs 19 theme parks in North America, filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009, burdened by high levels of debt and declining park attendance. Its restructuring plan reduced its debt and redeemable preferred stock to about $1 billion from about $2.7 billion.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MLB Spring Training: What I Learned After Six Weeks in The Trenches

I'm the third guy from the left in the picture.

Well, after six weeks of working MLB Spring Training in Arizona, I learned a few things and made personal observations about others. I attended numerous games among a variety of good and not so good baseball teams. I worked the Press Box, tickets, bag checks, the stands, the practice fields. Everything I guess, but food service, which I refused to do. I came across mostly wonderful people in the stands; some decent, down-to-earth professional baseball players, some owners, coaches, scouts, tv/radio announcers, media types, players' wives and girlfriends.

Here's what I think I learned:
1) Most baseball players, for some strange reason, drive black Cadillac Escalades.
2) Some baseball players wives/girlfriends need to go to charm school. Or at least, understand the game of baseball. Left field is from 'left' from home plate, NOT "left" from the ladies room in center field. That would be 'right field'. DAH!
3) Some baseball players wives/girlfriends need to understand 'dress code' at ballgames. This ain't the prom. Dress accordingly please.
4) Most baseball players who don't earn a million bucks are decent, friendly people.
5) Some baseball players who earn over a million bucks need to go to charm school with their wives/girlfriends
6) Most baseball players are not much bigger in person, as when you watch them on tv.
7) Press/media people have higher opinions of themselves then the general public does. They also tend to be a bit overweight.
8) Baseball Management types take the game too seriously. It's not brain surgery. They think it is however. And that presents a need for a reality check.
9) Most baseball players willingly sign autographs for young kids. Some ignore them entirely.
10) Spring Training uniforms are really ugly.
11) Some baseball players are really ugly.
12) If you are a baseball player and have a #89 uniform, and your name is not printed on the back of the uniform, you are not going to play in the major leagues this year.
13) If you come out of the club house wearing cleats you will play. If you are wearing sneakers.... you will not.
14) The best players only play 4 or 5 innings. Then they go home. The AAA players play 3 or 4 innings, towards the end of the game.
15) Baseball players don't smile often. Management never smiles. It's a game after all.
16) Star baseball players don't walk from the clubhouse to the field. They are driven in a golf cart.
17) Too many fans have too many baseballs/bats for autographs. I still don't understand fighting to get these autographs. I don't even know the names of most players, let alone having them sign something, like my shirt. Why waste a good shirt?
18) Most star players don't want to show credentials at the entrance gates, and they cannot tell me what their favorite baseball movie is!
19) If you get a message on your phone that the toilets in left field have overflowed, move quickly and decisively to right field.
20) I have a better appreciation for the word "NO" and it's definition. Most people at baseball games do not. And I was there to help them better understand just what "NO" means.

Overall, it was a great experience for me to spend these six weeks in the sunshine in Arizona, watching baseball. I could understand what it meant to so many kids to see players stretching, calisthenics, batting practice, running, jumping...all in the name of the game. And that's really all it is. A bunch of young kids wanting to just play. That's how I'd like to remember it. Not the money, the fame, the fortune. Nope. Just the game...for all it's worth...
Play ball!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MLB Spring Training: "Hey, mister can you autograph my cap?"

Well, after about six weeks into MLB Spring Training, someone finally asked for my autograph. Don't know why. I was sitting in the 'owner's box' alone, at an Oakland vs Seattle game.

This little kid about six, knocks on the door, and says: "Hey mister, can you sign my baseball cap?". Gee, the only signature that I have that has any worth, is on a bank check. And sometimes, that doesn't even have any worth.

In this case, I really didn't know what to say. If I said 'no' this kid might have been totally turned-off to baseball role models.Not that I am one, frankly. If I said 'yes', sometime when he got home, someone would say: "who the hell is this guy"? So, it presented somewhat of a dilemma. Thus, I agreed to sign the cap. And I did: "To Ryan, Best....Willie Mays".

Monday, March 22, 2010

MLB Spring Training: How to Get into the BallPark for Free...

During MLB Spring Training in Arizona, I've found a number of unique ways to enter the ballpark for free. They are relatively simply procedures:

1) Wear a uniform of one of the teams. You could even carry a baseball bat (they are allowed but water bottles are not).
2) Get a bright yellow piece of cardboard. Write something on it and hang it from your rear-view mirror.
3) Carry an oversized video camera with you and wear your baseball cap backwards. Look disheveled.
4) Drive a Black Escalade or a 4-wheel Jeep Wrangler with really big fancy tires. They will think you are a baseball player.
5) Flash any kind of ID that looks like something 'official'. Try your drivers license.
6) Tell them outside the ballpark that you really have to use the rest room. There are no rest rooms outside the ballpark.
7) Use the "vendor gate" and show up with an empty box of hamburger rolls.
8) Tell your girlfriend to dress up in her very best, short-skirt outfit and she tells them that she is a 'player's wife'. Best if she is a 'trophy female'.
9) Say "this is my first day of work with the food service company"

Other then that, just pay the $7.00 admission and have a good time!

Friday, March 19, 2010

MLB Spring Training: Hey Stupid, You Left Your Lights On

I can't imagine a major league baseball Spring Training game where, during a game that starts at one o'clock in the afternoon, someone would actually leave their headlights on and the car running...just to get to the game.

Well, it happened three times the other day. One person I can understand. He was a Japanese tourist in a rental car. He was in a hurry to get an autograph from Ichiro Suzuki, the star outfielder for the Seattle Mariners. He not only left his head lights on, but he left the car running, with the keys lock inside. No matter, he left the car in the parking lot just that way, and was running for the stadium gates, the last time I saw him.

Two other people did the same thing. One from Colorado and another from New Mexico. Head lights left on in the middle of the day. Why might I ask, were the head lights on in the first place? It was 80 degrees and sunny! Nevertheless, there they were. Three cars with head lights on, doors locked and no one in sight. And of course, the Japanese tourist who left the engine running too!

I just hope he got Ichiro's autograph, because the tow truck company is going to charge him a lot more then that autograph is worth.

Some Thinkers