Circles of Life

Recent events have reminded me of the circle of life.

Lyrics of the Burt Bacharach song used in Lost Horizon:

The world is a circle without a beginning
And nobody knows where it really ends
Everything depends on where you
Are in the circle that never begins
Nobody knows where the circle ends

I recently visited the mainland and reunited with friends. One had a daughter who was born while I was there decades ago and now is about to have her own child.

At my high school reunion I was reminded of Veterans who gave their lives for our freedom. I also saw some educators who were there in the 60’s but now retired.

I also found that a classmate of mine from those times, just passed away suddenly this week, well before his time.

As all this was happening, my island was undergoing its own circle of life. Kilauea Volcano was active, rumbling like thunder and seeping lava from cracks in the earth. At least 30 buildings were destroyed and about 2,000 people are currently displaced  as lava flowed near their houses.

Some may wonder why live near an active volcano? We wonder why people live in tornado alley or on an eroding cliff-side at the beach?

In the case of Madam Pele the volcano Goddess, she does what she will. It is not her fault that there are homes and people in the way. This particular island is comprised of 5 volcanoes and this is the currently active one. Had it not been for all of the lava, our island would not exist. It is 4,000 square miles and extends from the sea floor, 20,000 feet up just to sea level and then another 14,000 feet to the top.

Madam Pele is only active in one small area on one edge of this island. She is destroying homes as she adds more acres to her home.
 
The circle of life…
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Why They Stopped Calling On Me

I used to work for a large computer company in the I.T. department. Our computer room was very large (like a football field).

We once had a combined meeting of programmers, support persons and so on, both male and female. I was in the back with fellow workers.

Before the meeting started, I had been talking about a maid service I had read about.

During the meeting, my bosses’ boss mentioned that we needed to keep the computer room clean and I made a snide comment to a co-worker. My bosses’ boss saw that I was being inattentive and cracking a joke and called me out. “Mark, do you have something you would like to share?” to which I said “No, I’m sorry”.

Apparently irritated and wanting to make a point, he asked again and I apologized. “No, come on, share with the group”. I replied that the comment was not appropriate and he again said “We are waiting” to which I finally thought, well he really wants to know…

“I just joked that we should hire the topless maid service that was on the news today.”

I still remember the burning look from him when he realized that pushing me to share this with the group, was not his best decision.

I was never asked to share with the group again.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Sorry that I have not been posting as much lately.

The big news is that my neighbor is coming back to the Big Island and I have been trying to mage it and my farm at the same time. Well, I negotiated a deal for him with his farm and it should help quite a bit. His farm is about 5 acres and has a lot of old coffee trees on it (old it  good thing). Unlike corn or wheat, coffee is planted and if cared for, will last decades before the trees need to be replanted.

As we have gotten older, we find it is more difficult to do manual labor. Due to the lease we hold, we must farm on our land and coffee can be labor intensive.

So the deal I set up is that for the next 4 years, a guy and his team will weed whack, prune, spray, fertilize and pick all of the coffee on the neighbors farm, in trade for all the coffee. If he wants to sell his own coffee, he can buy it back and market price and would make a profit on that after the sale. However, what that means is that he has no out-of-pocket expenses for 4 years, his property will look great and he has no worries. All of the coffee cherry his farm produces will be listed as his (for the lessors documentation) even though he won’t keep it. So essentially, the team does all the work and he pays them with the coffee cherry.

The team may include woofers, which are people who work on organic farms in swap for a place to stay (http://wwoof.net/). He may host some of these workers on his farm or perhaps I will. The rest of the team are local workers.

Besides managing his farm, I have been working with another neighbor to replace his back door and check brakes and transmission on a truck.

I am still working a temporary I.T. position for a large farm and managing websites for about a dozen sites.

Lately, I am streaming some series I missed over the years like Andromeda, Episodes and a few others. Recent series and shows include Green Wing, The I.T. Crowd, The Good Doctor, Shameless, Beyond, Heartland, Workaholics and The Ranch.

The dogs want out so I have another task at the moment.

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A Different Time, A Different Place

I grew up in a different time, in a different place.
 
Many of you know that I attended military school in the 60’s. We were taught to respect firearms and in the high school years, I had and carried a rifle, like all cadets. We also had swords or sabres. I spent time at the rifle range and acquired proficiency awards.
 
We started and ended our days surrounding the flagpole while the flag was raised or lowered. We were taught (actually required) to salute the flag and to respect what it stands for. During parades we passed in review and we would face the stadium and see alumni and visitors salute or place their hand over their heart areas the colors passed, It was something we did.
 
We were taught respect for others. We did not talk back to teachers or administrators. We had discipline. We learned that there were consequences. If someone misbehaved, they were ‘allowed’ the opportunity to take their rifle and march back and forth for hours while their peers passed by on their way to activities or headed to home for the weekend. When we had demerits we were confined to the campus. We learned quickly to follow the rules and behave.
 
We were required to study and get good grades. It was fairly easy to do that because of the way classes were held. We took one subject for 8 weeks and then had that final before the next class. We did not have those 50 minute mini classes with a 10 minute free for all in the halls which public schools seem to think is ‘education’. Kids spend 10 minutes settling down, 10 minutes getting ready for the end of class and so on. This can explain why most if not all of our alumni went off to college.
 
We were required to march and follow instructions. We had some athletic requirements, yet most students joined one of the many teams or activities. We also had hobby clubs (my favorite was radio among others). We attended chapel every weekday and Sunday. Some cadets were allowed off campus to attend their specific religious institution. We were also encouraged to help our community.
 
We respected other athletic teams and schools who came to participate in events on our turf. W also had away games and were instructed to behave and represent our school with pride.
 
Many of the sports-related alumni from my school went on to the NFL among other places including the Olympics. You would know many of their names. I daresay they they would not take a knee or hide in the shadows during the Nation Anthem.
 
When I attended in the 60’s we had something like 23 countries represented. That has not changed over the years, rather has probably increased.
 
At the end of each day, the bugler played taps. It was a reminder that people died to keep our freedom. Our school has a memorial to those cadets who gave up their life protecting the freedom of others.
 
Even though it was a military school and some went on to serve in the armed forces, many did not. It was not a requirement, however many did serve and with honor, including the time I attended during the Vietnam War.
 
I think what has changed is that people became more permissive. We have parents, politicians and judges who are afraid to hold people responsible for their actions. If someone was caught smoking without permission or talked back, we marched for hours. Yet in today’s society a person can riot and steal from a store and has no consequences (they were upset). A child can be a drunk driver who kills people but gets probation because his parents never taught him the link between behavior and consequences.
 
I have seen parents who believe that everyone is a winner just for showing up for a sport. While that sounds great to them, it does not teach the children that in life they can excel or fail and that by failing they learn lessons to help them deal with life. When there are no consequences, there is no learning and therefor the child will continue along the same path.
 
I am glad that I attended a military school. I had no desire to join the military upon graduation, however, I can assure you that the discipline I learned and the understanding of consequences has stayed with since.
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Waiting For The Missile

I had been through the 1971 scare that all radio and TV stations broadcast, so I knew it *might* be a mistake. Back then it was a Saturday morning when we expected a test to come down the wires, instead, it was a warning.

In this case, it might be a mistake, however we have already been testing air raid sirens because of North Korea. I really don’t think N. Korea would be crazy enough to attack because I feel they would be wiped off the map.

Still… So I tried to gather the dogs but they knew something was up. The more I tried to sternly tell them to come to me, they wouldn’t. I had to open the gate to get them out of the pen and into the basement room but they thought it was time to run up the property for their morning run. Finally I got them into the enclosed room and tried checking news outlets via cellphone.

The local station was talking about trash collecting, but I could not tell if there was a text scroll on the screen or not. I tried CNN and Reuters but was having troubles with the dogs jumping around and trying to see the tiny screen.

I called a neighbor who didn’t answer the phone and texted him. I called a friend on the mainland and got no answer. I left a message that we *might* be under attack but that it also could be a mistake. I called my younger sister, could not get her and sent a text. About this time I thought that if we were under attack, I might still have time to get dog food and my medicine, but opted to stay put.

The wind blows from my island towards Honolulu and thus generally if a bomb goes off pretty much anywhere in the islands, fallout would be headed away from me. I would be able to make a run upstairs later. I comforted the dogs and waited. It had been more than 15 minutes which is the amount of warning they think we would have. Certainly we would have fired rockets to intercept and we have a missile base in the islands and we have been expecting a possible strike, so we would have been ready.

When the all clear message came out, I let the dogs loose in their run and went inside to watch the news on the big screen. I will set up some supplies downstairs soon, although I still don’t think they will be needed, however we also get hurricanes in the islands and so on, so I still will be better prepared.

Even though I was reasonably sure it was a mistake, I was still nervous for hours. I had been loaded up on caffeine and my blood pressure meds had not kicked in yet to slow me down a bit (they make me tired), so the adrenaline was going full steam for quite some time.

Over the past few years I have had two major operations (one being a quadruple bypass) and flipped a truck over. I think they all rated about the same for excitement.

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Missile Attack

OK, WHAT A WAY TO SCARE US!

My Verizon phone is set to receive emergency alerts. Less than 1/2 hour ago it gave its warning tone and a screen pops up:

INBOUND MISSILE HEADED TO HAWAII THIS IS NOT A DRILL. TAKE COVER NOW!

I grabbed the dogs and took them to the room under the house and started notifying people I knew who might not have seen the alert.

When I brought up local news on my cellphone, I saw no warnings or anything else.

Seems the State or local officials made a mistake broadcast.

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Again, I Can See Clearly Now

There are times you hear of a product and think it may be hype. Here is a case where it isn’t.

My truck headlight covers are plastic and use halogen lamps that plug into the back. This is in stark contrast to old style headlamps which were one self-contained unit with a glass face.

Because the front is plastic, it is effected by the elements including sunlight and grit hitting the thing. This makes the front milky and stops much of the light from getting through. You might even fail a vehicle inspection.

You first thought might be to replace the cover, which can be very expensive. Instead, consider just cleaning the plastic. I watched multiple video on Youtube, each showing how simple it was to use Meguiar’s PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish. It retails for about $8 a container and that container can do quite a few cars. I don’t think I used more than a couple teaspoons on my truck lights.

You should clean the light with water or in my case, I just wiped off any dirt and grime. Then I put a small squeeze of the stuff on a terry towel and rubbed it on and in, using circular and back and forth motions. Before it totally dried, I wiped it off and looked. The difference was dramatic. Even if this only lasts a couple months, it was so simple and quick that it was well worth the time.

 

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You’re Cold? I’m Cold!

SO, you are cold huh? I know the feeling.
 
People laugh when we residents of Hawaii complain about the cold. Yes it is true that we get snow, but it is far away and up above 10,000 on our volcanoes. Still the winter temps (day and night) drop by 5 degrees during the winter.
 
When I moved here, my first night in the house was shocking. It went down to the low 60’s. While that does not seem cold to many, I had no long sleeved shirts, no long pants and no real blankets. Add to that no insulation in the ceiling, walls or floor and the only thing between me and the cold air was a piece of plywood and a bit of carpeting.
 
Windows! We use lots of glass here both to allow looking at the view and to use as air conditioning. We open the windows during the day and close them at night. We often have louvered windows which allow drafts to flow in and out.
 
So I went into town that next day looking for help. At K-Mart I looked for an electric blanket. The sales lady said “What? No such thing!” when I told her it was a blanket you plugged in. A co-worker explained to her that it was like a heating pad but bigger. I ended up buying one online.
 
I now have an oil-filled heater that looks like an old radiator. Yes, we could us things like that all over, however keep in mind that our electricity is perhaps 3 or 4 times as expensive as yours. With just a computer, LED bulbs instead of incandescent ones, TV, hot water heater, deep freezer, fridge and washer and dryer, my electric bill is over $150 a month. It is not difficult to double that cost.
 
We love being in a place where during the summer and for that matter, most of the year, we can keep the doors and windows open, wear shorts, t-shirts and flip-flop type slippers and feel comfortable. However, most of the year is not winter.
 
So yes, we can swim in the ocean and stay warm during the day year round, but winter is colder for us. We still have snow at the higher elevations today and it is freezing up top. We have had blizzards up there and it can be lethal, just an hour or two drive away.
 
Our island is about 90 miles by 90 miles, the size of the state of Connecticut. We go from sea level to 14,000 feet in just 45 miles. So every 1,000 feet you go up the volcano, it gets colder. I notice the difference in temperature between my house and sea level. I’m just a couple miles from shore, but 850 feet up. It is about 5 degrees colder here.
 
So while my house is not covered in snow and ice and I generally don’t need anti-freeze in the truck, it IS uncomfortable here during the winter. So yes, we moved here for the warmth but is can elude us.
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Life Is A Roller Coaster

Life is a roller coaster.

You stand in line all excited and when you get to the front of the line and about to get on for the ride. It is then that you discover that you are bald and crapped in your pants.

Still, you get on the ride and it slowly goes up and up and up. You feel exhilarated. You have no cares in the world. The view is spectacular!

Then there is a sharp turn, maybe to the left or maybe to the right, but turn you do.

“Huh” you think. Life takes those turns at times.

Then your ride takes a dramatic downward swoop. Your heart beats wildly and you are not sure if you will make it out alive.

You will soon climb up again from the bottom and will go through a few more peaks and valleys.

As the roller coaster ride nears its end, you begin to exit and notice a few things…

You and all of your fellow riders have the experience and want to tell the expectant riders still standing in line about the ride. However, they are excited and getting on and are not looking back at those who have already ridden. They will have to experience the ride on their own and hopefully make it through.

We seasoned rider are older and wiser. As we exit the roller coaster ride we also realize two things.

We are bald again and we just crapped in our pants.

So goes the ride of a lifetime!

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A Quiet Friday Before Christmas

OK, so it is Friday morning (5:45am) and I have been up for an hour because the dogs wanted out early.
 
In just over an hour I will check in on Riviera.Fm, the internet radio station where I participate as part of the at-home jury for the Hit or Miss show. They play music for 2 hours and we vote on whether the song, if released today, would be a hit or a miss. Well, I THINK we are having the show today; perhaps with Christmas music?
 
Then I grab breakfast, take the dogs out for a walk, do some laundry, head to town to drop off an invoice and perhaps, maybe, buy a TV that is on sale. I also have to drop off a check for road dues for our access road.
 
A neighbor asked me to help with some barcodes so I’ll print a few and pass them along. I also have to bag some flavored coffee I am sending my Sister to hand out to her customers.
 
I will be picking up a few things at the store along the way. I’m out of caffeinated cola at the moment and need to pick up some things to make my Christmas pot luck specials. There *may* be a pot luck at the ocean tonight (the snorkeling spot called 2-step) but for sure there is a pot luck dinner tomorrow at 4pm at a neighbors.
 
If I have time and it doesn’t rain (like it has the past few days) I’ll mow some of the farm.
 
Just another quiet Friday in Paradise….
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