Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Six things I like about Kauai

1. The Princeville (aka Haolewood) dump is open seven days a week until 5:30, it’s free and you never have to wait. Most dumps that I’ve been to charge by the ton, have long lines and inconvenient hours.

2. Surfing and current surf conditions are a legitimate topic of conversation. You will still be treated as an adult if you bring them up.

3. Call me crazy but I LIKE the tourists. Sure they create traffic jams and crowd the beaches but it’s kind of cool being around so many people who are so excited about being here.

4. Everyplace has its song: “New York, New York,” “I left my heart in San Francisco,” etc. But Hawaii has inspired virtually its own GENRE of songs. There are countless songs extolling the natural beauty and aloha of Hawaii. They are just like love songs except they are about a place instead of a lover and they make new ones and play them on the radio all the time.

5. You can say “dude” as much as you want without fear of not being taken seriously. “Dude” has always come naturally to my lips but I learned to suppress it in order to “pass” as the kind of person who does not say “dude.” No longer! You can also address someone as “brother” without sounding hokey.

6. I’ve probably seen more waterfalls and more rainbows in a few months than I had in my entire life before coming here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gone Hiking

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bumper Stickers, Changing the World and Tow-in Surfing

Before I moved to Hawaii I lived in Berkeley, California, the world capital of bumper stickers. In most places everyone is entitled to his or her point of view but in Berkeley it’s not enough just to have an opinion. What good is that? You’re not really in the spirit of things unless you distill your opinion into a few (preferably biting) words and paste them to the back of your car. But just one bumper sticker might warrant sideways glances from your neighbors; a true Berkelite couldn’t sleep at night until the whole back of their car forms a mosaic of provocative slogans so complete that a tailgater would have no clue as to the vehicle’s original color. Even those noble urban bicyclists who forgo fossil fuel in favor of pedal power are obliged to cover the frames of their bikes with conciseness raising slogans despite the fact that the only way to read them would be to place your disembodied head in a sort of orbit around the tubular frame.

But it’s hard to keep up. There’s always some new group of oppressed people whose plight really needs to be brought to the attention of those five or six people in town who may not have already heard about it. And the world is changing all the time. “Re-elect Carter” just doesn’t seem to speak to a younger generation. So in the interests of simplifying I have come up with a couple of good bumper sticker slogans that are timeless and general enough to capture the gist of any issue a citizen of Berkeley might want to draw attention to. Consider it my little gift to the city I once called home. I propose that the simple one word statement “Indignant” could replace the whole range of bumper stickers found in Berkeley. But if one statement seems almost TOO concise I’ll supply a few variations to round out the selection.

“More indignant than you” puts a little bit finer of a bead on the feeling many are trying to convey with their stick-on message. Or maybe “indignant about something more obscure than you” would capture the mood. For those who really want to bring home the message I suggest “indignant that you’re NOT indignant.”

My least favorite bumper sticker reads “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.” I’m a well-educated, thoughtful and caring person whose consciousness of MANY issues has been raised and raised again. I am paying attention and sometimes I do feel outraged but things are the way they are and being in a perpetual state of outrage about them is not appealing to me nor does it help anything. I want to decrease the outrage and increase peace I feel. The paradox of change is that I have to accept the world for what it is before I can do anything to make it a better place. Surely the most lasting changes start not with outrage but with calm resolve.

If I gave the impression that I was about to unveil a master plan to bring about meaningful change to the world I apologize because that’s a little beyond the scope of this blog.

The bumper sticker I have seen the most of around here reads “GMO free Kauai.” But my favorite is “Eddie would Tow” which is a variation on the more commonly seen “Eddie would Go.” Both stickers refer to Eddie Aikau, a legendary Hawaiin beach lifeguard and big wave surfer who died in 1978. “Eddie would Go” simply reminds us to be fearless. Eddie would surf in almost any conditions regardless of how dangerous they might be, and so, it would seem to imply, should anyone who sees this bumper sticker. “Eddie would Tow” is a much more subtle argument. Tow-in surfing, in which surfers are pulled like water skiers by a jet ski into waves so big they might be impossible to surf conventionally, has only been around a few years and certainly did not exist during Eddie Aikau’s lifetime. Old school surfing purists consider tow-in surfing cheating and some believe in goes against the spirit of the sport. The “Eddie would Tow” bumper sticker implies not only how Eddie would have weighed in on this particular controversy of the surfing world, but in invoking the name of such a revered hero seeks to bolster the legitimacy of surfers who have found a way to “go big” that is comparable to the pioneers of big wave surfing’s first attempts to push the envelope of what was possible.

Maybe it’s just because it’s something new but I find it refreshing to live somewhere where bumper sticker dialogs revolve around what it means to surf instead of what place the US should get out of this week. Does that mean I’m not paying attention?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pow! Right in the Kisser!

Before I die I want to be slapped in the face. Not hard. I don’t want a broken jaw or anything. The blow I’m looking for isn’t meant to injure me; it’s more of an expression of unbridled disgust, preferably delivered by a woman. Perhaps someone reading this has been the victim of such a swat. Or maybe some of you have even perpetrated a smack of disgust and you wonder why anyone at Planet Haolewood would ASPIRE to be involved in such a sordid exchange.

It’s all about finding balance. I’m a nice guy, not the sort of fellow you would imagine saying or doing something so offensive that he deserves a pop in the kisser and there’s the problem. It’s not good to be too easy to pigeon-hole. There are probably many guys out there who need to work on REDUCING the number of disgust-inducing words and actions they produce but for every Yang there is Yin and maybe, in the interest of cosmic harmony, I’m the guy who needs be just a little bit MORE offensive. I’m not saying I want to make an open-palmed crack across my face a regular occurrence in my life, but if it NEVER happens, not even ONCE, then might I be considered a little too cautious? Surely there are ideas floating around in all of our minds that if expressed openly would inspire such a violent response. And while polite people usually keep such thoughts to themselves or at least make them more palatable before giving them utterance, isn’t it a little unhealthy not to let one slip through just once?

What I’m really talking about here is taking a chance. I’m not really convinced that I will ever achieve my unusual goal but think of all the provocative things I could say and do while I pursue it! Politeness is a fine characteristic but at what point does it become just a fear of saying what we really think? Maybe someday we’ll live in a perfect world where frankness never leads to a slap in the face but in the meantime I just hope who ever ends up slapping me isn’t wearing too many rings!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's a jungle out there!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Is blessed a one-syllable or two-syllable word?

It was three months ago today that I arrived in Kauai with the intention of living here for a year and seeing how I liked it. So far so good. It’s a fascinating place; Everything here seems so unlikely. In this part of the world the ocean is the main event. Land is a freakish anomaly. It was the last place on earth to be discovered and populated by humans and sometimes it seems like we aren’t really meant to be here. We are land creatures after all and the territory which surrounds these tiny islands for thousands of miles in every direction is totally inhospitable to us. Maybe theses islands belong to the sea and we are just trespassers.

But if this is the forbidden island then there has never been a more tempting place to trespass. Hawaii seems as if it were made specifically for humans to enjoy. The climate is ideal and healthy living seems to come naturally here. And it’s not just physical health, the landscape just seems to inspire a more spiritual attitude.

And then there are the people. They seem a bit like flukes, too. It seems like everyone I have met here, even those born here, are people who have experienced some kind of random streak of good luck and decided to go with it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just seeing myself in them. I guess the short version is to say that the place and the people seemed to be blessed.

Bless is a level one Cleric spell in Dungeons & Dragons. It’s not a very powerful spell; even a novice cleric can master it. It just gives who ever the Cleric chooses a “+1.” That orc still might defeat you in battle or you still might no be able to find that secret door, but you’ve got just a little bit better shot at it if a cleric has cast bless on you. So maybe that’s how it is here. You’ll find all the challenges and joys of being human just as you would any other place but there’s a +1 that makes everything just a little better.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I Would Rather Sit by a Waterfall than Sit at a Bar: A Short Rant

I don’t like bars. Why would anyone want to spend time in a bar? I can’t imagine anything more boring than an establishment whose purpose is to provide a place for people to sit around and do absolutely nothing. I have probably spent less time in bars than the average person of my age and I’ve never enjoyed it. The only exceptions were when I played pool or when I hung around pubs in London and played cards. I enjoyed myself because I was playing pool or beating my friends at Hearts. The bar was just a convenient location.

As a place to socialize it’s just a notch above a firing range. How many people are tearing up their vocal cords and ruining the hearing in the shouting matches that pass for conversations in bars right now? I would prefer a quiet café or a park or a beach. Maybe people go to bars to meet people but the only people you are going to meet in a bar are people who like to hang around in bars! And why would I want to meet them?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Yesterday was the last day of work before my boss left on a two week vacation so it was a bit of a hectic and as it turned out LONG day. A few minutes after I got home my phone rang and I saw it was my boss no doubt calling to tell me one last thing he forgot to tell me before but instead he said merely, “Middles is epic.” I had just cut into an avocado which I had planned to make into the guacamole which forms the centerpiece of my favorite food, the burrito. But upon hearing these words I dropped the avocado, shoved a hastily prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my mouth and headed out the door with my surfboard.

My boss lives a short walk from a spot at the beach where he can easily scope out the surf conditions at his favorite surf spot, Middles. The North side of Kauai doesn’t get much surf during the summer and Middles lies dormant but every once in a while there will be a fluke swell that lights up Middles like a visit from Santa in July. The National Weather Service website hadn’t said anything about it and these summer swells tend to disappear quickly so it’s a good idea to take advantage.

Middles, aptly named, lies in the middle of Hanalei bay and it takes about ten minutes to paddle out to it. “Epic” turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration. The waves weren’t that big but the lack of wind gave the ocean a glassy quality and the only sound during the lulls between waves was the little splashes of the other surfers hands paddling through the water.

I’m a little hesitant to write about surfing because I just don’t think I can do it justice with the written word. I’m afraid it would be like a postcard of The Grand Canyon; it’s just not the same as being there. But I suppose a postcard is better than nothing so imagine a visit to a chiropractor, a masseuse, a personal trainer, a psychiatrist, a priest and a lover all wrapped into one and you’ll have an idea of what a good day surfing feels like. It can be all of those things and yesterday was especially nice since not only were the conditions sublime but it also came as a complete surprise.

I didn’t get out there until six and it’s only light until about 7:30 so as the clouds burned pink with the afterglow of sunset the other surfers paddled in and I was left alone, the last one out, waiting for one more wave to carry me home.