Electricity and the Lack Thereof

Hale Aloha Luau Entrance
Hale Aloha Luau Entrance

Electricity in Hawaii is just about twice as expensive per kilowatt hour here in Laie as it was in Pocatello. Since there is no coal in Hawaii and no other naturally available fossil fuels, everything needed to cause a generator to turn over has to be imported. Hawaii has no nuclear power plants. It has been making a major push for people to install solar power and has installed a number of wind turbines. They want to double the number of wind turbines but that is running into a lot of opposition and I don’t think that’s going to happen very soon. Consequently, because of the cost of electricity we’ve been trying to be very conservative in our use of air conditioning. Until about a month ago we hadn’t turned our AC on at all. The weather at night was cool enough and the trade winds brought very mild temperatures with them.

When we tried to use our AC, we found to our dismay that it didn’t work very well, resulting in two new window air conditioning units. I’m certain that they are both much more energy efficient than the previous machines. In addition, they have a feature making it possible to schedule when the air conditioner should turn on. So, instead of having it run while we’re at the Visitors’ Center, or waiting for it to cool the house down after we get home, we can set the machines to come on about an hour before we get home and everything is nice a cozy. Further, the AC has been off for the previous five hours.

That has worked very well until today. Electrical power here is somewhat flakey and goes off occasionally. Today it went down for quite a while. Long enough that the Visitors’ Center had warmed up inside to be as warm as it was outside! When we got home I discovered that the timer still worked … it just didn’t count the time during the period when the electricity was out! The units had turned on just as we got home.

Yesterday and today were a bonus days. Last night we had a Skype call with Jared and Tania in Seattle. This morning Nina hooked up on Skype with Heather over in Mumbai, India, and this afternoon we had a Skype conversation with our son James, his wife LeeAnn, son Steven, and daughter Shaundra in Kentucky. Those are quite precious to us as we get caught up a bit on the family news. Steven’s missionary application has been submitted to the Church and he should get is mission call in the next couple of weeks. His twin brother James is in the process of submitting his application, but has some medical things to get taken care of before the application can actually be submitted. It looks like we’ll have two grandsons out on missions while we are doing our missionary service. That’s just plain exciting!

After our shift at the Visitors’ Center and the Skype call with James and family, Nina and I headed over to the Polynesian Cultural Center to take tickets at the Aloha Luau. This is the largest of the three luau venues at the PCC and is held in what used to be the main theater for the evening show. A couple of years ago a new, much larger theater was completed for the evening show and the previous location was converted into a luau experience. The venue was nearly sold out and just about everyone showed up as the entrance opened. We had several very large groups coming in together who had also paid a premium price to be seated at the front. So, for the first forty-five minutes we were just mobbed with people lined up and waiting to get into the luau. Then, of course, the last forty-five minutes was very quite and very slow. But we have to stay at our post from 4:30pm until 6:20pm. After that we can go over to Prime Dining and get our own evening meal.

One thing I don’t understand, though, has to do with people who have paid to be able to go to a luau who then leave the luau early. There is one price for a buffet dinner at the Island Buffet (this is the largest and most popular eating location). A higher price for the Prime Dining buffet (same food as the Island Buffet but with prime rib and a succulent shrimp and crab dish added). Then the highest price is for one of the three luaus. I haven’t figured out paying the highest price and then leaving early! Maybe there’s just too much Scotch blood in my veins. The luau show is a lot of fun and very entertaining.

Well, time to wrap up for the evening. We’re doing well and life is quite cozy (as in warm and humid).

I Can’t Believe It’s Already Saturday Night!

The "Pig"
The “Pig”

This week has just flown by and already we’re at Saturday evening. The days really are running together.

This afternoon after our morning shift at the Visitors’ Center we had another one of our volunteer assignments at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The “Hale Ohana Luau” venue as ticket takers is our favorite assignment. We’re in the shade, we’re beside the canal, and the guests are (almost) always happy, hungry, and tired. Many of them are lined up when we arrive at about 4:25pm. The luau opens somewhere around 4:45pm, so we have a few minutes to visit with the people lined up and ready to sit down, rest their feet, and get some food. That also gives us the opportunity to verify that they’re at the right location. There are three luaus and some of the foreign guests don’t understand the difference between the locations. Tonight two of the three luaus were sold out (one was a bit oversold) and ours had about twenty available seats (the overflow came to our luau). We’ve been told that some people will try to get into a luau that they haven’t paid for and will try various tricks. We haven’t experienced that issue (so far). I really enjoy visiting with the people.

One of the performances at the luau has to do with hunting down and finding the pig that will be the meal for the following day. This is quite a dance out through the audience and onto the stage. As we were waiting for other guests to come to the Ohana luau, the person portraying the “pig” for one of the other luaus sat down in the seating across the canal from us waiting for his turn to be “hunted down”. Every afternoon at about 2pm they have a canoe parade along the canal and the place were the “pig” was seated is the stadium seating for the parade. We haven’t been there for that event, yet, but several people have told us it is a lot of fun and very interesting.

At the Zone Conference yesterday we sat at the table with the First Counselor in the Honolulu Hawaii Mission Presidency who is also an executive at the Polynesian Cultural Center. He has just taken on a new assignment to start up the use of social media in the marketing for the PCC. We had a fun conversation and I was pleased to learn that they are finally going to be using this capability.

The Fountain Is Nearing Completion
The Fountain Is Nearing Completion

By golly, the tile replacement project is nearing completion! All the tile is down, most of the grouting and sealing is completed, and yesterday afternoon the work crew began re-installing the lights in between the individual fountain nozzles. One of the fountains is complete, the center fountain is underway, and the left fountain hasn’t been started. Sometime next week we’ll probably see water in the pool and the fountains actually fountaining once again! That will definitely be on the highlight reel!

Another clue that the project is nearing completion is that they’ve finally started cleaning up around the construction area. A lot of trash, empty soda bottles and cans, and scrap material was accumulating around the pool and on the edge of the pool. It sure looks better with the trash gone.

An Un-straight Flagpole
An Un-straight Flagpole

We still aren’t allowed to put a flag on the (very tall) flagpole. The pole is not straight, a fact very apparent in the picture. The contractor thinks it is “straight enough”. The Temple people disagree (as do I, as if my opinion carries any weight…). The dispute has been elevated to Salt Lake. I expect they’re going to require that the pole become straight. This kind of things drives some of the OCD people crazy! Today I had two people ask me why the flag pole isn’t straight up and down. I, of course, had to act like this was a new revelation … “Oh my goodness. What happened? Did the wind blow that hard last night?? ….” Then, it was necessary to ‘fess up and tell them what was really going on. So far it’s been unanimous that the pole must be put straight.

No crookedness allowed in life over here!

The Ward Campout

Ward Camp
Ward Camp

Ever since we arrived almost four months ago, a regular topic for announcements and discussions at Church in the Laie 3rd Ward was the Ward Camp. It’s happening this week. Most of the ward members pack up kit and caboodle and spend the week encamped on the shore a short way from town. We’ve been told that “in the old days” the whole community would camp for the entire summer down at the beach so that people could get to know each other and develop a sense of community. Now days, each of the wards here in town pick a week during the summer and off they go camping!

Nina and I stopped by there yesterday afternoon on our way back to town and visited with some of the folks for a bit. That’s probably the only time we’ll get over there as our Visitors’ Center schedule pretty much precludes any time there. We’re assigned to go to Zone Conference tomorrow morning so we’ll be on the afternoon shift at the Center. Saturday we’re working the morning shift but then are taking tickets at the Polynesian Cultural Center in the afternoon. The encampment started on Tuesday when we were working the afternoon shift. Yesterday was our Preparation Day and we pretty much had the day consumed with everything associated with getting “prepared”. Next year we’ll have to do a much better job of scheduling. It actually looks like they were having a lot of fun!

Roy Tabora Art Gallery
Roy Tabora Art Gallery

We stopped yesterday for a few minutes in a town west of Laie called Hale’iwa. The main purpose was to visit Roy Tabora’s art gallery. One of his paintings hangs on the north wall of the Visitor’s Center and it is an amazing seascape. Many visitors to the Center comment on the painting. He has a beautiful way of showcasing light and sea. Mr. Tabora is in the foreground in the picture and Nina is way in the background talking to the gallery manager. We’d like very much to take one of his pieces of art back home with us. Hale’iwa is definitely a tourist town and we had fun poking through a couple of shops and enjoying some ice cream before heading home to finish things up (I needed to finish ironing my shirts, for instance). We ended up being fully prepared.

Another successful Preparation Day is in the books!

 

A Clean House, a (Soon to Be) Clean Car, and a Burglary!

The Entry
The Entry

Today is our Preparation Day. We’ve spent the morning “preparing”. That means cleaning the house, doing the laundry, doing the shopping, and anything else related. The morning started, however, with one of the sister missionary companionships coming over with their car that needed air in the tires. I have the air compressor in our garage which I use for pumping up tires, both bicycle and automobile. The mission cars all come with the tire-pressure sensors which indicate when the tire pressure is below 25 pounds. When that happens, they come over to get the tires filled with air. If they come a second time within a week or so, then the tires need to be checked, repaired, or possibly replaced.

Our house (one half of a duplex) is quite small so it doesn’t take very long to vacuum the carpet, clean the kitchen and mop the floor, and clean the bathroom and mop the floor. Nina and I switch each week as to who does the kitchen and who does the bathroom since we both do them differently and between the two of us we probably get everything clean over time. All of the inside stuff is done and all that is remaining is to wash the car.

I don’t wash the car very often. We get regular gully-washer rain showers (two so far this morning), so there needs to be another reason. That reason occurs on Friday. Zone Conference is this Friday and that’s when all of the mission cars get inspected. For us senior missionaries, the checks are mainly for maintenance purposes. For the younger missionaries, the inspections are much more rigorous. One requirement, however, is that the car be clean inside and recently washed outside. So, my next task is to wash the car and then most every needful thing for Preparation Day will be completed. We may go somewhere this afternoon for some sight-seeing!??!!

Sometime early Tuesday morning one of the sister missionary apartments was burglarized …. while they were sleeping. The thieves removed several of the louver-window slats, climbed in, opened the front door, and took off with whatever they could see. Purses, cameras, and a DVD player were taken. The purses were later located tossed into the bushes down by the seashore, minus anything of value. The sister missionaries never have very much money. They have a debit card from the Mission that gets loaded each month with their monthly stipend and they pay most everything with the debit card. A couple of them had another credit card. All of these were cancelled before anything had been charged on them. I spent much of my morning yesterday working with the landlord to get the window fixed and the locks changed. In the process I learned how to lock the louvered windows. Ours are now locked!

Two of the missionaries in that apartment are foreign sisters. While they are taking this whole thing in stride, they’ve now been rudely introduced to the American dark side. It was certainly a wake-up call!

Visitors' Center Fountain
Visitors’ Center Fountain
The tile replacement project in the fountain in front of the Visitors’ Center is nearing completion. All of the new tile is down and in place. The final grouting process is underway and it looks like they’ll meet the July 20th completion date. Next week sometime we should have fountains fountaining.

Meanwhile, we now have two new air conditioners in our house!!!!!! They work wonderfully. They cool the air! They make almost no noise! We’ve slept two nicely cool nights. Life is grand!

A Cool Night!

Nina Waiting to Take Tickets at Prime Dining
Nina Waiting to Take Tickets at Prime Dining

After several days of hot and humid weather (yesterday was in the double 90’s), a heavy rain storm blew through the area at about 6pm as the leading edge of a cold front. The temperature dropped 15° within a half hour, along with the humidity. We’re back to the weather we had when we got here last March! Now, I know that everyone going through the unseasonable warm temperatures in the western US or the drenching rain and flooding in the southeast don’t have much in the way of sympathy for our weather here in this corner of paradise. But, tonight not only does this look like paradise, it also feels like it!

Regardless of which transfer, Nina and I work four mornings a week at the Visitors’ Center and two afternoons. Sometimes the two afternoons are on Friday and Saturday, other times, like now, the afternoons are on Monday and Tuesday. That means we open the Center up for business twice as often as we close it down. We’re getting much better at getting open for business and slowly getting pretty good at closing the place down. I haven’t totally decided whether I’d rather work the morning shift or the afternoon shift. Right now I’m leaning towards the afternoon shift because our mornings are less hectic when we’re on that shift. On the other hand, when we work the afternoon shift we come home very tired and still have to figure out what to eat for dinner, get stuff straightened up, and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Tomorrow morning will start much earlier as Elder Boyd K. Packer’s funeral is at 7am Hawaii time. We’ll be showing it live from Salt Lake for all of the missionaries assigned to the Center. I’m looking forward to having a bit of free time tomorrow afternoon!

I ordered an antenna for my ham radio setup. It has finally arrived and I intend to get it operational tomorrow afternoon. I’ve also received the parts for a second antenna that’ll take a week or so to build and then I’ll put that one up. The first antenna is large enough to be noticeable; the second will not be noticeable at all, but doesn’t have the “reach” that the first antenna will have. I’ve been having this internal debate about where to put the bigger antenna. I’d like it to be sixteen to twenty feet in the air, but also need to get the coax cable into the apartment at a location where I can use the radio. Eventually a picture will show up here on the blog when I’ve got everything functioning.

After our shift at the Center this morning we went over to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We had an assignment to take tickets at the Prime Dining buffet but went over earlier to stop by the store selling ukeleles to price them. Yesterday we went down to Honolulu to the Aloha Stadium Swap meet (See Nina’s Blog entry from yesterday for details) and priced ukeleles there. It turns out with the discount we get at the PCC the prices are about the same, except at PCC we have to pay for a carrying bag separately. But, at the PCC we can get lessons. I think we’ll buy a “concert” sized ukelele for each of us at the PCC and get some lessons. It wouldn’t be right to spend two years in Hawaii and not learn to play this instrument and bring one home with us, just sayin’.

Life is cool and breezy!

Keys … Do I Have A Key?

Polynesian Cultural Center
Polynesian Cultural Center

As I was sitting down to write this blog post, a couple of sister missionaries knocked on our door. “Do you have a key to our back door?” they asked. I have a key ring with a key to the front door of each of the sister missionary apartments. At least once a week a set of missionaries lock themselves out of their apartment. This time, however, the situation was potentially a lot more difficult. They had thrown the deadbolt on the front door and then, for some reason, exited out the back door of their apartment. After closing the back door, they realized the door was locked. Their key didn’t seem to work to unlock the back door and it also definitely didn’t work to unlock the deadbolt. Hence their question: Did I have a key to the back door?

I didn’t. I also didn’t have a key to the deadbolt. I asked them to try once again to see if their key would open the back door. Reluctantly, they trudged out back and tried. Wonder of wonders, after several tries, the door suddenly unlocked! I’ve no idea what we would have done if it hadn’t worked. We came back home and tried our only key on the back door. It doesn’t work on that lock. I also don’t have a key to the deadbolt on our front door. So, now I need to have a conversation with the Facility Management people who take care of the apartments and make sure I have a key for every lock, deadbolt, front and back, of each of the apartments. If it’s possible to lock themselves out of their apartments in unusual ways, someone will find that way! And, now that I know I don’t have all of the needed keys, the longer I wait the higher the likelihood that someone is going to get “permanently” locked out. Ugh.

Yesterday Nina and I had planned a routine day and serve our normal shift in the morning at the Visitors’ Center. However, we got a call at 6:45am that one of the bicycles needed air in a tire and the seat needed adjustment. We got that done. Then the apartment next door called to say that they had a big puddle of water on the floor in their bathroom. The previous day their toilet wouldn’t flush. I’d checked that and found that the little chain that lifts the stopper in the water tank had come loose and fixed it. Supposedly all was well.

However, the puddle of water was a mystery. They told me that they had heard “water sounds” in the bathroom and didn’t know what those were. I couldn’t find a leak. We cleaned up the water and went to the Center. Because of the 4th of July and a planned picnic for all the sister missionaries that evening, we closed the Center at 4pm so people had time to get ready for the party. As a result, we were relieved from duty at 1pm rather than the normal 2:30 pm. We liked that as we also had an assignment to take tickets at the Polynesian Cultural Center from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, so this would give us a few extra minutes free. Except it didn’t. The sisters called again to say that they were still getting puddles of water and it was now out into the carpet in the hallway. So, we came home, changed clothes, and went over to investigate. What I found was one of the gaskets around a bolt connecting the water tank to the toilet had disintegrated and water was dripping onto the floor. The tank would slowly empty, eventually the filler mechanism would trip, and the tank would fill back up with water (hence the “water sounds”). There are two bolts, one washer was completely gone and the other nearly so. A quick trip to Ace got me two washers ($4.99). One bolt came out and was readily replaced. The other would not budge. It took an hour of working with the bolt, drilling holes so that the screwdriver could get purchase, and a lot of sweat, and the bolt finally came out. Another trip to Ace Hardware. This time I had to buy a gasket kit to get the bolt ($14.67). A half-hour later the problem was solved. No more water on the floor and no more mysterious water sounds.

We had a nice time taking tickets and came back to a really fun picnic, games, and root beer floats to end the evening. Another Fourth of July well celebrated!

Life is sometimes hectic!

In Memorium

My Aunt Leone (my father’s sister-in-law) and my Uncle Ted (my father’s brother-in-law) both pass away this week.

Uncle Ted Larsen
Uncle Ted Larsen

Uncle Ted was the husband of my father’s younger sister Larella. They had lived most of their married lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico after starting their family in Preston, Idaho. While Uncle Ted and Aunt Larella lived in Preston, I had a lot of association with them and their children, my cousins. Unfortunately, after they moved to Las Cruces, we only saw them occasionally with many years in between each occasion. Nina and I were able to visit them once in Las Cruces and when my Uncle Delon died, I was able to visit them a second time when I drove mother and dad down for the funeral. I’ve gone through my pictures on my computer, and I don’t have any pictures of Uncle Ted! So, I’ve “borrowed” one from Facebook posted by my cousin Mary Ellen.

Uncle Ted was quite an athlete, playing golf and tennis well into his 90’s. He was always incredible energetic and a lot of fun to be around. He treated his nephews and nieces well and we all felt he thought each of us were kind of special. Of all his children, I know his oldest son best. I knew him as “Barry” growing up … and he knew me as “Kay”. When we became adults both of us took on our first names to the rest of the world (he as “Ted” and me as “Roland”), but to each other we’re still Barry and Kay. Barry posted the information about Uncle Ted’s passing on Facebook on June 30th at 3:08pm:

This afternoon shortly after 2:00 pm my father passed away in Las Cruces, NM. His funeral will be in Preston, ID in the very near future. Not quite sure when yet.

Since then the funeral services have been arranged for July 8th in Preston, Idaho. While we won’t be able to be there, we send our love and condolences to the family and will be thinking of them on that day. Aunt Larella is still alive in an assisted living center.

Uncle Ross and Aunt Leone
Uncle Ross and Aunt Leone

Aunt Leone was the wife of my dad’s younger brother Ross. I do have several pictures of Aunt Leone, others are posted below (there are many, much better pictures from her family on Facebook). She was one of the sweetest, most compassionate people in the world. And she could throw a party!! All of their children are much younger than me, so I didn’t have much real association with them while I was growing up. But all of them, from oldest to youngest, are wonderful people and a real tribute to their mom and dad. Uncle Ross and Aunt Leone took care of my grandfather Smith, who was the epitome of the word “stubborn” (a trait that passed down to my dad, who quite proudly carried the nickname “Stub”). There were times when that caregiving had to have been almost overwhelming, which (in my humble opinion) certainly earned Aunt Leone the title of “saint”. Well and truly deserved.

Aunt Leone passed away last evening at the hospital in Preston from pancreatic cancer. I first saw the information on a Facebook post by her daughter Stephanie (one side of a set of twins):

My beloved mom passed away late last night after months of fighting and suffering through pancreatic cancer. I will miss her every day. So much of what is good in my life is from her, and I am eternally blessed to be her daughter.

Her suffering, pain, and trials are over and she’s certainly been warmly welcomed by family and friends who were waiting. I don’t know the arrangements, yet, but will post something when they are known. Again, Nina and I send all of our love and condolences to the family, none of whom, I’m sure, were ready for this event, as if we could every truly be “ready”.

Aunt Leone and my mother
Aunt Leone and my mother
Aunt Leone and Uncle Ross
Aunt Leone and Uncle Ross
Aunt Leone and Uncle Ross
Aunt Leone and Uncle Ross
Aunt Leone and My Mother Arlene
Aunt Leone and My Mother Arlene

 

Transfer Day Hustle

Full Moon Over Laie
Full Moon Over Laie

We are in the process here of transitioning into the new summer weather pattern according to a couple of locals. Rather than having the trade winds blowing 90+% of the time, they die down to maybe 50% of the time and mostly at night. With lower winds we get far fewer clouds, as evidenced by the picture. Very few clouds in the sky this evening and the constellations are quite clear tonight. Every first Wednesday of the month is a ham radio net for the windward side of the island. It was delightful to sit outside and listen / participate in the hour-long net. Ham radio is alive and well on the island of Oahu!

Today was the actual transfer day when some of the sisters changed companions and / or apartments. Four new sisters arrived, two have gone home, three came in from the field and three others left. We’ve now the opportunity to get familiar with the new companionships. These days bring as much turmoil into our lives as it does the sister missionaries!

Normally today would have been our Preparation Day. However, because of some airline schedules, Elder and Sister Priday needed to swap days with us, so our P-Day will be on Friday. Further, the whole evening has proven, once again, that there is no “normal” over here. Among other things, the sisters down the way from us turned on every appliance, it seems, and circuit breakers definitely complained. Nina had a great time chasing down the new sister missionaries to get their muumuus fitted. On the other hand, dinner was just plain perfect.

This is a good day!