Red letter days at our household … we’ve gotten TWO letters from our Marine grandson currently going through bootcamp in San Diego, California. He seems to be adjusting very well to military life as a recruit. His paternal grandfather and his father both served in the Air Force. His grandfather retired from the Air Force and his dad is still in the reserve. His father also spent some time (before becoming an Air Force Officer) as an enlisted man in the Army. I did my six years in the Air Force during the Vietnam years. I’m very proud of my grandson and his willingness to serve our country! The military tradition keeps going. Hang in there grandson … when you graduate in December you’ll find that it’ll all be worth it! Semper Fi!
My second and last political post of this campaign.
Several people have asked for my personal thoughts about the Libertarian Candidate Gary Earl Johnson. In the last post I alluded to those thoughts and want to be a bit clearer. I don’t think Mr. Johnson is “crazy” … other than the fact that he’s trying to run against a very partisan establishment … and doing it for something like the third time.
Mr. Johnson was a fairly effective governor of New Mexico. He was ruthless regarding spending and quite successfully turned a deficit-spending state into a budget surplus state. He wielded the veto stamp during his two terms as governor more times than every other governor in the United States combined during the same period, or pretty close to that. In addition, New Mexico gives the governor “line item veto” authority and he liberally applied his red pen to all spending bills.
The unfortunate part, in my very humble opinion, is that he ignored the opportunity to do much of any kind of strategic investment for New Mexico’s future. Some of the money would have been much better spent looking forward than just savagely axing it. Surpluses are fleeting, but strategic investments pay dividends for the long term. He’s running his campaign on the same idea … simply don’t spend money. The better approach, again in my opinion, is a more balanced approach to whacking several government agencies that have no business doing the business they are in, but at the same time doing something about our fragile infrastructure and our lagging technological innovation.
Third party candidates historically have only been spoilers, throwing the election to the person that the majority of voters didn’t want. Recent examples are Ross Perot and George Wallace. I’ve seen the damage that both of them inflicted on the country and that’s another reason I can’t support Mr. Johnson.
The RNC leadership, tragically, just declared that they will continue to ride The Donald horse, regardless. The only alternative is for thinking Republicans to get behind a write-in campaign for someone who can garner enough votes to throw the election to the House of Representatives. Forty-eight of the fifty states have a “winner take all” situation in that whichever candidate gets at least majority + one of the vote gets the entire electoral collage for that state. A candidate needs 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency. It doesn’t take very many states where the majority vote for one specific person rather than the two “annointed” candidates to prevent any one candidate from garnering the 270 votes needed. It needs to be someone that both the female and male voters can support. I can think of several people who fit this bill, including men and women. But, there is hardly any time left. I’m going to write in a candidate. I haven’t decided who that will be and even when I do, I won’t be talking about it. I’ve now written all I’m going to write on this subject.
I will not and cannot support nor vote for the current Republican candidate for president of the United States. He is demonstrably unfit to be the President. I also cannot support nor vote for the candidate from the Democratic Party. She should be in prison, has little to no regard for our hard-won constitution, plays very loosely with the truth, and is equally guilty of condoning sexual assault as Mr. Trump is of perpetrating it. The Libertarian candidate is also unsupportable. Not only can he not prevail (even in today’s political morass), he’s just plain loony-tunes.
Will someone in the Republican Party leadership finally stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” and bring forth a candidate with a modicome of integrity. PLEASE!
Each week at our senior couples coordinating meeting for the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center we go over the current “Come and Go” list. This document lists the missionaries who will be arriving and their arrival date along with missionaries who are completing their mission along with the expected completion date. The list looks forward some three to four months.
The list we got last Tuesday has our names on it as departing on February 9th, 2017. Seeing our names in print with an actual date is starting to make this “being completed with this mission” seem real. The 9th of February will be here way too soon. We’ve still got a few items on our “Hawaii Bucket List”, but most of them have been crossed off. Today we put together a short list of places we want to have dinner at least once more before we leave … food is a subject near and dear to my heart!
Five days a week, when possible, I take a one-mile walk in the morning after getting up and before breakfast. The first quarter of the walk is a pretty intense climb up the side of a mountain to a large fresh water storage tank. The next quarter is back downhill from the tank. The last half mile is around the neighborhood and the nearby cul-de-sacs. The climb itself is (for me) pretty intense with some significant elevation gain.
The last half mile is relatively flat. I keep thinking that the climb at the beginning will get easier. So far, not so. I’m panting heavily as I near the top. On the way back I take a picture looking eastward out to the ocean (today’s picture at the top of this post). It’s a vigorous and pleasant walk. I’ll be doing it again tomorrow!
See you next time. Ta ta for now!
Yesterday during a particularly quiet period at the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center early in our shift, a fellow in a suit and tie came up to me and said, “For me, it all started here thirty-five years ago. I’m sure the missionaries never knew.”
Well, that definitely piqued my interest, so I invited him to tell me the story.
Thirty-five years ago, in 1981 about this time of the year, he and a buddy had come to Hawaii and were driving around Oahu. They saw the Temple from the highway, wondered what it was, and stopped. “The Visitors’ Center was a whole lot different then than it looks today,” he said.
They took a tour conducted by an older man who was a missionary at the Center. In the back corner where we now have the FamilySearch exhibit at that time was a talking mannequin … a kind of an automatron. After the mannequin give its spiel, the senior missionary bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon. “That really spoke to me,” he said. He bought two copies of the Book of Mormon (in those days people had to buy the book in the belief that if someone paid money for the book, they would think it had more value) for fifty cents each, one for him and one for his friend. He started to read it a few days later, quickly became bored with the book, but took it with him when returned home to California the following week. Then two young men missionaries knocked on his door. He recognized the name tags as similar to the one the senior missionary at the Visitors’ Center had worn and invited them in. “Two and a half weeks later,” he said, “I was baptized.”
This was his first time back to Hawaii since then. He had done a session at the Laie Temple earlier that morning and walked through the Visitors’ Center to see what it looked like now. “I’m sure that missionary never had an inkling that I had any interest in Mormanism. I don’t even remember his name. I just remember how I felt when he bore his testimony.”
Every day people tell me how beautiful and peaceful it is on the Temple grounds and in the Center. “There is a special feeling here…” I hear very often. It certainly is sacred ground and when people just stop and listen with their heart for a few seconds, the spirit of the place manifests itself. Through the Church’s computer systems we learn each week that some five to ten people that the sister missionaries have referred to local missionaries have been baptized. We will all be shocked in the next period of our lives when we meet the hundreds of people who were touched by our testimonies of the Book of Mormon or just by the spirit they feel when they are on the Temple grounds and later acted on that feeling and come to say, “For me, it all started when I stopped by the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center … and you never knew.”
It’s been a good week! Ta ta for now!
The fall slowdown at the Visitors’ Center is in full swing. This morning between the time we opened at 9am and 11:30am we had fewer than twenty people come into the Center. The afternoon is always busier than the mornings, but we had plenty of time this morning to spend with the few guests who came into the center.
One fellow came in and in talking with one of the sister missionaries, said that he sang opera. He was enticed to sing something (“It’ll be very loud,” he said. “We like loud!” replied Nina). He then sang The Lord’s Prayer. It was just delightful! He was able to fill the Christus room with his beautiful voice singing the traditional setting of that hymn. His visit was a real treat.
We’re having issues with the air conditioning at the Center. As a result we’re keeping the temple engineers busy coming down to reset the system and cool the building off again. Eventually they’ll be rather fed up with the issues and will get the contractor to fix the system!
We also had another outstanding experience this week on Monday and Tuesday. The managing director for the Church’s visitors’ centers was here for two days and gave us six hours of very beneficial training. He had a number of other meetings and other obligations, but spent some very quality time with us. He was there as the mainland Chinese tour buses made their daily appearances where the Center fills up with Chinese tourists very interested in learning a bit more about this Church. Although he knew about this phenomenon before coming, there’s nothing like seeing it first hand. One take away he had is that we need more exhibit information written in Chinese characters … a lot more! We have none at present. Everything is in English.
Time is flying by! Ta ta for now….
Nina’s sister Pamela Mills arrived at the Honolulu Airport late Saturday morning, September 3rd. She’s been saving up for this trip for quite a while, consequently we tried to make this trip as memorable as possible for her. She rented a bedroom across the street from the Polynesian Cultural Center for the eight nights she was going to be in Hawaii.
We did some sightseeing in Honolulu, including the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, locally called the Punchbowl cemetery, as well as taking the Pali Highway across to the windward side of the island. During the week Nina and I still had most of our assignments at the Visitors’ Center to take care of, although the other senior couples freed up as much of our time as they could. Some of the other adventures during the week included:
The Makapu’u Lighthouse. This was intended to be one of several stops along the southeast side of Oahu that day. The hike is about three miles round trip with close to a thousand feet of elevation gain. It was hot and humid, but we all made it to the top and back down again. After that we just made our way back home with a stop for lunch/dinner along the way. The path to the top of the hill above the lighthouse is paved and the last half of the path has a number of places to sit and collect one’s breath. From the top of the hill the islands of Maui and Molokai were barely visible on the horizon.
The Dole Plantation. Pineapples grow in bushes near the ground. A bush produces a pineapple and, after that one is picked, produces one more about six months later. After that, the bush is finished. The Dole Plantation not only has a huge number of acres under cultivation, but has a nice souvenir shop with all things pineapple. A further attraction is the twenty-minute train ride around a part of the plantation. All of the Chinese buses that stop at the Visitors’ Center have the Dole Plantation on their agenda, meaning the last Chinese bus that stops at the Center arrives before 4pm.
Aloha Luau Show. Nina and I were assigned to guard the exit at the Aloha Luau. We spent the afternoon that day at the Polynesian Cultural Center and Pam came with us to our assignment. After the roasted pig is taken out of the imu (underground oven), it is paraded around for the audience to take pictures, and then is taken right past where we sit when we have the assignment. Pam was not particularly thrilled by the pig, as evidenced by the expression on her face!
Byodo-In Buddhist Temple This temple is up against the mountains in a very large cemetery. It’s a beautiful building in a beautiful setting. We enjoy going there and walking through the grounds, the temple, and the gift shop. Pam came to visit us when we were living in Japan back in the late 1990’s, so this was a nice reminiscent taste of Japan for her. The two of them noticed that I was quite enamored with a dragon souvenir and bought it as a gift for me. I’ll post a picture sometime in the future.
A Helicopter Ride. Heather and Ty had given Nina and me a paid-for forty-minute helicopter sightseeing flight around the island. We hadn’t used that gift, primarily because of Nina’s fear of heights as well as just not making it a priority. Pam decided that this was the perfect opportunity and she’d take the helicopter ride with us. The short version is that we all had a superlative time. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how much fun and how exciting the trip was … and there was no sensation of height, or at least the fear of heights did not manifest itself. We flew all along the windward side of the Island, dropped down into Pearl Harbor, and then came back up through the middle of the island, landing back at Turtle Bay 41 minutes after we left. I want to do it again….
And, eight days after arriving Pam was back at the airport headed to the mainland. She planned to spend five or so days with her daughter Ashlyn and son-in-law Eric in Salt Lake City before flying back home to Kirtland, Ohio. The once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii was over seemingly before it even got started! We had a great time and I’ve plenty of photos from every one of those activities. Maybe I’ll put up a blog entry with many of these pictures.
Meanwhile, ta ta for now!
Heather and Ty stopped in Hawaii for a couple of days on their way back to Mumbai, India after their annual home leave. Top of their list of things to do was a session at the Laie Hawaii Temple which we took care of the very next morning. After the session we walked through the meditation garden at the back of the temple. Two beautiful banyan trees grace the garden and the relative size is shown in this picture with Heather standing underneath the tree. A lot of students come up to this garden during the school year to get a bit of peace and quiet and to enjoy the sweet spirit on the temple grounds. The gardeners (all four of them) do a world-class job of maintaining the grounds, the flora, and the fauna.
Heather’s time on home leave was more than hectic. So much to do in so little time, including doing the initial planning for Danielle’s Temple Wedding in December. That meant that Heather and Ty were quite content to just sit around for a while and just plain “talk story” (a Hawaiian idiom used very often, meaning to sit around and “chew the fat”). We also did all of the important tourist things as well, including spending Wednesday afternoon at the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor stop was number two on Ty’s list. His grandfather Hal Hardy had served during WWII in Honolulu and throughout the Pacific on a Navy LST (landing ship transport).
We took the opportunity to ride the Laie Tram Tour from the Polynesian Cultural Center over to the Temple and back. That gave Heather and Ty a brief overview of the history of Laie as well as a chance to meet and visit with some of the sister missionaries we work with. After we got back from the tram ride, we walked through the Polynesian Cultural Center. All of the islands were closed, which made for a very nice, peaceful walk. No crowds, no noise! Along the way we met up with some folks working on a biology project … catching fish from the PCC canal to use in a hydroponic project (the “fish poop” feeds the plants in the hydroponds). They were being very successful with their fishing using Taro Rolls for bait.
on Saturday, September 3rd, Nina’s sister Pamela arrived for an eight-day visit with us. She’s been working and saving for this trip for the past couple of years and was really psyched up to finally get here and experience Hawaii with us.
On our way back from the airport to the North Shore, we stopped at the Pali Overlook on the Pali Highway going from Honolulu to Kaneohe. This is a Very Popular Tourist Spot … which by itself is an understatement. This highway started out as a very treacherous footpath that was upgraded and expanded over the years to what became a nice 4-lane highway in 1957. Since that time two more highways have been punched through the Kualoa Mountains which bisect Oahu.
We joined the dozens of tourists (it was well after 6pm in the evening) to take pictures on the overlook. The city of Kaneohe is on the background left, the city of Kailua in the background right, and the Marine Corps Base Honolulu directly in the background. There’s a humorous (unless your a victim) sign as one walks up to the overlook warning visitors to beware of bees in the high winds.
About five mornings a week I walk up the hill at the end of the road by our house to the water tank and back (about a half mile) and then continue down the hill and around a cul-de-sac and back home. The whole thing takes just over a half hour and is right at a mile. The climb is very strenuous and takes the most time. Already, though, it’s getting a bit faster each day. However, after all I ate this evening at the monthly Break-the-Fast, I’ve probably regressed significantly. The sun is just peaking over the horizon on the right side of this picture.
Every few weeks we get to witness a marriage proposal at the feet of the Christus in the Visitors’ Center. Today was another of those opportunities made even more interesting because Nina’s sister Pamela was there to see it happen. The young man had arranged for a friend to come to “take some pictures”. He took a couple of pictures, then told the fellow that his shirt wasn’t tucked in correctly, using that as a way to slip the fellow a box with the engagement ring inside.
With the ring in hand, the fellow dropped to a knee and proposed marriage! The girl was stunned, surprised, and although I’m sure she knew the proposal was coming some time, was delightfully dumbfounded by the sudden proposal. He actually had to repeat his proposal so she could be sure she had heard him correctly!
The proposal was accepted, followed by a Very Big Kiss. Lots of applause from people in the know as well as all the other visitors at the Visitors’ Center. They fellow and his now-fiancé took many more pictures, while she hung onto him quite tightly; clearly she wasn’t going to let him get away!
Marriage proposals happen fairly often at the Visitors’ Center, but usually around the end of a term at school. The fall term is only a few weeks underway and this is the first proposal of this school term. The other event that occurs fairly regularly is students opening their mission calls.