Sunday, April 30, 2006

Trip to Hawaii April 2006 - Delta 767

This plane took me from Honolulu to Cincinnati, from where I had to race like a still innocent OJ Simpson to catch a connection to the next flight to Newark.

Delta gave me a bulkhead seat, for which I give them massive props. They did no such favor on the way west. I contemplated killing the guy who leaned the seat directly onto my 6 foot 3 inch knees but decided not to. I would say that I hope that he got run over by a tractor trailer the minute he got out of the airport, but that would be unkind so I will not say that.

Trip to Hawaii April 2996- Honolulu Airport

Honolulu Airport's terminals are built around an outdoor area with a Hawaiian Garden, a Japanese Garden, and a Chinese Garden. The gardens are next to one another.

I have never seen an airport this nice.

You once needed to stop in Hawaii on your way from California to Japan or, later on, to Australia. But now, unless you're flying to the islands of Micronesia, or to Fiji maybe, there is little reason to stop at HNL Airport now. But if you are changing planes there...the gap between flights can be spent in a beautiful garden, feeling the trade winds from somewhere out on the Pacific Ocean.

Trip to Hawaii April 2006- Diamond Head

Trip to Hawaii April 2006, originally uploaded by Phantom Photo.

Despite the overbuilding, if you crop your photo you can easily imagine Waikiki the way it was.

This is the first time in my six visits that I did not go swimming. And the reason was not the fancy convention meetings. The reason was that there was a sewage spill caused by a cracked pipe in the Ala Wai Canal area last month. The tourist honchos said that the water was fine. The cab drivers and other locals said that the water was not OK. I believed the locals.

Hawaii is a special place to me, and it pisses me off that I flew all this way and did not get to swim.

Trip to Hawaii April 2006Hilton Hawaiian Village

HHV, originally uploaded by Phantom Photo.

This, the Rainbow Tower, is the oldest of the big buildings of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I remember reading about it when I was in high school. I loved the tiled rainbow then and I love it now. This big building was played its part in the hyperdevelopment of Waikiki but...I still like it.

Trip to Hawaii - Death of Waikiki

I have been to Hawaii six or seven times now. One of my favorite sections has been Lewers Street and Beach Walk streets. The businesses there were a little less upmarket than the rest of Waikiki, with a smorgasbord, a small fruit market ( Henry's ), a Starbucks, but they were small scale and real.

All these places and others have been torn down and will be replaced by massive concrete structures. I am astonished that Honolulu allowed this. Waikiki is terribly overbuilt as it is. This is a photo of a big concrete parking lot that will be across the street from the Outrigger Reef Hotel. Take paradise and put up a parking lot. A curse upon everyone involved in this transaction.

Trip to Hawaii April 2006- Segway

Trip to Hawaii April 2006, originally uploaded by Phantom Photo.

Guy riding a Segway and blabbing on cellphone on Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki.

Kalakaua was the last king of Hawaii.

I heard that there is a Segway dealership in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which may explain why I saw a number of people riding these things in Hawaii. They seemed to have a lot of get up and go. These things have been a flop so far, but maybe they will ultimately be a success.

Trip to Hawaii April 2006- Waikiki in 1880

Trip to Hawaii April 2006, originally uploaded by Phantom Photo.

From the hallway at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. A photo of a native Hawaiian at Waikiki in 1880, before mass tourism but long after the Hawaiian nation was reeling from US and British contact.

Trip to Hawaii April 2006- Salt Lake City Airport

Trip to Hawaii April 2006, originally uploaded by Phantom Photo.

Changed planes in Salt Lake City Airport. This airport is just the right size...the gate to the Delta flight from Salt Lake to Honolulu was right next to the gate my Newark-Salt Lake City flight landed at. As you can see, the airport is surrounded by mountains that are snow-capped this time of year. Also saw the Great Salt Lake on the way in

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hi from Hawaii

Having a nice time here in Hawaii at the fancy industry conference. The weather is great, but, as is usually the case with these things, have spent all the days in meetings.

At least I was able to sneak away to the Ala Moana mall to buy three quality Aloha shirts. They're colorful, but not the tacky " Hawaiian shirts " that may come to mind. The kind I get cost $50 and up, are made of good fabric, and last for years. In Hawaii, noone wears a suit and a tie to work. Even if you work for a fancy bank, you wear an Aloha shirt. You're in Hawaii, and that's how its done here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Off to Hawaii

Off to Hawaii tomorrow morning for a convention. Last year, the convention was in Philadelphia. I prefer Hawaii.

Will make a plane change in Salt Lake City. Have never seen Utah close up before. I hope I enjoy my one hour stay there. Hope the Mormons don't get me.

I first saw Hawaii in 1976, when my flight to Guam had a two hour stayover at the Honolulu airport. Since then, I've been back a number of times. I like the less travelled places on those islands, but I also like the amazing Waikiki. There is nothing like lying down on the beach, feeling those soft trade winds, and seeing Diamond Head a couple of miles away. I'll never tire of it. Tomorrow I will be there.

Ben & Jerrys " Black and Tan " Blunder.. or Not?

Ben & Jerry's the ice cream company is taking some heat because they named a new ice cream "Black & Tan " Students of Irish history will recall that the term " Black & Tans " comes from a violent, and oppressive British military unit who fought the Irish independence fighters in the 1920s.

The fact that the Black and Tans were a bunch of no-good criminals is beyond serious dispute. But the phrase " Black and Tan " is not offensive. It has fallen into common use. I've seen people order " Black and Tans "--one half Harp beer, one-half Guinness stout-- many times in New York Irish bars. I've ordered one myself in Dublin for Christ's sake.

So, to the sniveling milquetoasts who are pretending to be offended: shut up and find something serious to be upset about. And go down to the basement and bring up a six pack of Yuengling's for me.

Ben & Jerry's is innocent here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Flying Outta Here

Will be out to meet the new client in Chicago tomorrow, then back the same day. One day of work in the office on Friday, then off to Honolulu for some more meetings. Important meetings in a nice setting.

So there may be a slowdown in the blogging. But there will be some. Aloha, baby.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Responding to Anti-American Bullshit in Europe

Today's No-Pasaran has an article about the phenonmenon of some Americans who respond to European anti-Americanism by apologizing for being American or by pretending to be Canadian, etc. I made a comment in the thread below the post.

Any American who would " apologize " for being an American or who, in a foreign land, would try to pass as a Canadian is less than a coward.

Some months after September 11, with the fires not yet out in lower Manhattan, I sat down to dinner in Zurich with an English guy and two Swiss. One of the Swiss gents out of nowhere started berating the US for the invasion of --Afghanistan, home of Al Queda-- . This was long before the Iraq War had started, or was even being discussed publicly. I was receiving a moral lecture from a citizen of the country that was profitably neutral in the time of Hitler about the US acting in self-defense against those who had attacked my city and killed my friends.

Needless, I did not apologize to this Swiss gentleman. Some might say that I got in his face a bit, much to the delight of my English dining companion.

Its OK to criticize the US government and any President, but any American who apologizes for his country in a foreign land is beneath contempt.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Irish Easter Rising in Dublin - 90th Anniversary

There are few people today who were alive in 1916. It's hard to imagine the world that existed then.

There were cars, but they were brittle and primitive things, far out of the reach of the common man. Rarer still were airplanes, which were delicate and experimental, nothing like the immense jets of today. If you wanted to cross the Atlantic, the only possible way to do it was by ship.

On Europe's Western edge was Ireland, an small island nation firmly in the grasp of England. Ireland was officially part of the United Kingdom, which controlled a British Empire that still included within it the impossibly vast colony of India, as well as immense possessions in Africa, and throughout Asia. The sun never set on that British Empire.

The European and world catastrophe that was World War I was well underway. The British forces, including many volunteers from every part of Ireland, were well into the slaughter. The Brits were on the right side of this conflict, but it was not as morally clear cut a war as was WWII.

In 1916, Ireland was a poor province inside a United Kingdom that it had never joined voluntarily. Many decades had passed since the dreadful Penal Laws, but there would have been elders who remembered the
Great Famine. Ireland had been under the British boot for 700 years, give or take a century. There were many atrocities, which won't be dealt with here ; there are many and better sources for historical information.

So in 1916, with the Great War raging, armed Irish rebels saw England's difficulty, WWI, as " Ireland's Opportunity " and made an armed stand against British rule.They seized locations in Dublin as part of the Easter Rising. The symbolism of the fight for a reborn, free, Ireland on Easter was not a coincidence. The fact that this rising was doomed to defeat was irrelevant. Irish men had taken a stand for freedom, as they had throughout the dark centuries, and here they set into motion a chain of events that was to lead to a free and independent Ireland not long after.

There is a great deal of material on the Irish Easter Rising on United Irelander both today, and in posts for weeks leading up it.

There's a time for war, and a time for peace. The USA won its freedom through armed struggle, and so did Ireland. Without the Easter Rising and many other armed risings, Ireland would still be a British province, and a poor one.

Great changes have taken place over the past 90 years, and the relationship between Ireland and England/Britain now is very substantially a good one. But, that good relationship of equals, and the freedom that led to it, would not have happened if a few brave men and true had not taken a stand, 90 springtimes ago, against impossible odds, on Easter.

Happy Easter to all.

Movie: " Bombay"

I subcribe to the " " service, which, like Netfix, sends you a stream of rental Movie DVDs via the mail for a low monthly fee. Both services are great, and allow you access to vast libraries of films that you might not otherwise be able to see.

Last night, I saw Bombay, an Indian film that was made in 1995. In the movie, a Hindu boy falls in love with a Muslim girl in the same village. This enrages the families, and the two escape to the big city of Bombay, get married and have two twin boys.

In 1992, when the boys are six, Bombay erupts in murderous Hindu vs Muslim riots after Hindus destryoed the old mosque at Ayodha which had been built atop an even older Hindu temple centuries ago. The Ayodha incident and the murderous riots really happened ; I remember reading about them.

You feel for the characters as they are slowly created over the first half of the movie. There are heartbreaking scenes as these people, including the two boys, are in the gravest danger as the mobs rampage through Bombay, asking " are you Muslim or Hindu "? The wrong answer means you are stabbed or burned alive in the street.

This is a political, antiwar film. Director Mani Ratnam has the characters make explicit statements against religious hatred and for Indians seeing themselves as Indians, as human beings.

This film is made for an Indian audience. It is sort of a musical, where there are many breaks where the characters break out in dance to Hindi songs, joyous or sad, some of which I really liked.

Up until the terrible scenes at the end, the film has lots of humor, including realistic banter between Shekhar ( the husband ) and his co-workers and neighbors in Bombay. Also, nice dreamlike scenes of the river village where the couple grew up.

I would see this movie again.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Glorious Day in New York

Today was as glorious a spring day as you can imagine. Very comfortable outside without a jacket. Large crowds in the building plazas on Park Avenue, eating their lunch slow, not wanting to go back to work.

Remember spring days like this in college. The afternoon classes would be a sea of empty chairs as we hung around SUNY Binghamton, listening to the Dead or the Doors, perhaps consuming a canned beverage. Or six, or twelve.

Not much has changed. Nothing beats a beautiful spring day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WTC: Detective Zadroga, NYPD

Four and one-half years later, another death from the 9/11 attacks.

NYPD Detective James Zadroga died on January 5 of pulmonary disease and respiratory failure. He had lung-tissue inflammation. There was fiberglass in his lungs. A pathologist has ruled " directly related " to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Detective Zadroga was actually inside 7 World Trade Center when it began to collapse. He survived that, and later spent 450 hours looking for survivors, and then recovering bodies. You'll remember that the WTC fires burned well into December. The smoke in the early days and weeks was awful. I could smell it seven miles away in Brooklyn for weeks. Detective Zadroga was at the site, close to the fires, breathing the smoke, and probably not wearing protective gear. It wasn't always available in the beginning, and a lot of the guys did not want to wear them later.

Detective Zadroga's family was on TV last night. His dad quoted him as saying that he would do it all again, even if he knew he would get sick and die. He wouldn't even have to think about it.

He's the latest one to die from the 9/11 attacks. Sadly, he will not be the last.

Discussing it at work with M, as she spoke of a conversation she'd had with Kieran, whose son is a NY Cop. The son spent a lot of time on " the pile " looking for people. She mentioned Detective Zadroga's passing, and that it would maybe have been better if his son hadn't spent so much time there. Kieran said of his son, thankfully still in good health.. " You couldn't have kept him away. Even if you tied him to a chair, he would have found a way to get right back out there. "

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Razr and Blackberry

So, a few weeks ago, I gave in and got a Blackberry. The one to the left. Actually, my employer paid for it. I could have had one over a year ago, but I couldn't be bothered. It was one more thing to handle, one more expense to keep an eye on.

But everyone who had one swore by them. One attraction was that when on a short business trip, you can keep an eye on your e-mails without carrying the heavy, cumbersome laptop around. So, two weeks ago I gave in.

So far, I'm very pleased with it. The manual is atrocious to nonexistent, but the controls are so well designed that you can easily figure functionality out.

I did not want too much clutter, so I switched my mobile phone service to the Blackberry device, with Cingular as the provider. They're the same company that does my company's Blackberry data service. Bad move. Don't know it was the fault of the Blackberry or of Cingular, but the signal was not nearly as good as I had enjoyed with Verizon Wireless for two years plus, via a regular cell phone.

So, still in the trial period, I switched out of Cingular and went right back to Verizon Wireless. Verizon has a lousy DSL product, but their wireless network in the US is by far the best. Their CDMA technology does not work in Europe, but I don't care. I live in America, and can live without the damned phone when I'm in Europe.

Don't know why I left Verizon Wireless , a rare lapse from my normal infallibilty.

Today, I recieve my new Verizon phone, the Razr V3c. Its beautiful. Its thin. Ot has a camera and video capability, which will occasionally be useful. It has Bluetooth wireless technology, though I won't be needing that anytime soon.

This could be the start of a beautiful relationship. I signed a two year contract with Verizon Wireless so this phone better be good!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Duke " Rape " Case

Sorry that there have been few posts recently. My computer has been down.

Not that I've been unable to look around the Internet.

Like many, have been following the " Duke University Rape Case ", where some have blamed the school's lacrosse team with gang-raping a black woman, a stripper.

DNA samples were taken from almost the entire team. The prosecutor was ready to hang 'em. Only one little thing. According to the defense lawyers ( and I don't know why they would lie about this ), the tests came back negative for everyone tested.

You'd think that this was good news. But some of the liberal persuasion were ready to convict the college students as soon as the story broke, and some of them won't change their minds, evidence be damned. See, from majikthise. I've made few comments here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Baseball's Back

Its the changeable time of year. This past weekend was glorious, but the past three days have been chilly here. Today, around lunchtime, there was a discernable snowfall in Manhattan. It didn't stick.

The baseball season has just started. The Yankees opened in Oakland, winning the first game and losing the second.

The Mets opened at Shea on Monday afternoon, winning 3-2, aided by a bad call by the home plate umpire. Soriano was supposedly tagged out sliding home, but Mets catcher Lo Duca clearly dropped the ball.

They played again tonight. It's wrong to play night games in April--its too damned cold. Its 41 degrees now. I don't mind walking in that weather, but I don't want to be sitting around for three hours in it.

The Mets had led 4-0 into the sixth. Brian Bannister was making his first major league start for them and had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings.

Then ex-Yankee Nick Johnson hit a three run homer in the sixth. Super new relief pitcher Billy Wagner came on in the ninth, and gave up a deep home run to left to Ryan Zimmerman. This ensured that young Bannister would not get the win. It was Zimmerman's first major league home run.

Washington has scored five runs in the tenth, leads 9-4, and its looking mighty grim in a cold, fast-emptying Shea Stadium. Jorge Julio has been rocked. If Wagner had made one better pitch, the game would have been over and everyone here would have been happy. What the hell. We'll get 'em tomorrow.

Monday, April 03, 2006

April 2006- Majikthise Wins First Phantom Award

Effective immediately, there will be a monthly Phantom Award given to anything I feel like giving an award to. The first Phantom Award is giving to lefty blog Majikthise.

Host Lindsay Beyerstein tilts a lot further left than I'll ever do, but she runs a literate blog, and contributes to the discussion.


View from 103 Quoted in Slate Magazine

Online magazine Slate quoted our " 911 Calls " article this past Friday, which led a number of hits from Slate readers. Welcome!