Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Great Synagogues

Tempio Maggiore (Florence, Italy)
I'm sure I visited synagogues in Israel with security, but there are military, police, and guards everywhere in the country, so I probably didn't notice anything at an individual building. In Europe, however, it was a very different story. In Florence, there were armed guards (both inside and outside the bars), lockers, and a metal detector. I can't remember if there were x-rays...probably they just made us put everything in a locker before entering. All of this on a Tuesday morning.

The Great Synagogue (Sydney, Australia)
I had to steal this photo of the Great Synagogue of Sydney as we were there on a Friday night and I either didn't have bring a camera or I figured photographing an orthodox synagogue on a Friday night was bad form. Notice the bars. (Note that the much larger St. Mary's Cathedral on the other side of Hyde Park does not feel the need to erect a fence.) I remember seeing some flyers for a pro-Palestinian protest taped to lamp posts on the street in front. And I remember the security. There were two personnel; one was a twenty something girl...if either were armed, they were concealing. Still, this was the most difficult synagogue entry I've ever had to make...and we were travelling with a six month old Jancie. Here's an excerpt from someone else's visit to a synagogue in London, but the dialogue is pretty much the same.   

“Where are you going?”
“To synagogue.”
“Where are you from?”
I paused, because I’m never really sure of that answer any more. “New York. I work for New York University, I’m visiting.”
“Where do you go to synagogue?”
Again, I faltered. There were too many answers to that question. “Well, I’m originally from Seattle and there I went to Shevet Achim.”
“Who is your rabbi?”
In Seattle? New York? “Well, it’s complicated, but Rabbi Yehuda Sarna.”
“Ok, and do you keep Shabbat?”
“Do you have ID?” Trick question.
“No, but I emailed my passport copy to the shul on Thursday.”
“OK, and is there anything in your pockets?”
        Just my hands, I showed them. Convinced, they radioed inside and the doors opened. 

Dublin Jewish Progressive Congregation

Although it is by far the most recent foreign synagogue visit, my memory of the entrance is the least clear of these 3. It was Ireland, so there may have been some drinking either before or after. Unlike either Great Synagogue above, this one is somewhat hidden and in a residential area. I believe it is fenced, but this was open when we arrived for services. There may have been a member greeting people at the door. Unfortunately, we did not make it to a Belfast synagogue. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

The last time I tried blogging from my phone, there was an official google app. It didn’t work very well, but at least it existed. No more. Prior to the existence of smart phones, I vaguely remember sending posts via email that then magically appeared on my blog. Since I don’t want to go back to those dark ages, I’m giving the desktop version a try on my phone. My phone is very small.

Back to business: Here’s a short 24 minute video of our drive to (and from) Hana, if you’re bored. As you can see, it rained. A lot. I always expect rain when going to Hana, but it was excessive this time. When we eventually arrived at Wai’anapanapa State Park, we were rewarded with some not raining time to set up the tent and this ocean view (from the tent). It’s just about the best $13 you can spend on Maui ($19 for you Mainlanders).
A brief stroll from our campsite brought us to this little blowhole. This is what the Lasko girls look like when they’re listening to me and not trying to get as close to the hole as possible without falling to a watery death.

After a night of torrential rain, wel hiked a good half of the Pipiwai Trail; here’s  the family taking a Cheeto break. 

I’m ending this post here. Using desktop blogger on an iPhone is exceptionally difficult. Apologies if the photo alignment is off.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Shared Birthday

While I have the Pentax hooked up (yes, I have an obsolete camera that neither shoots video nor knows how to upload anything on wifi), I should post some birthday photos. Here are a few that came out reasonably well (at least to my untrained eye). Or if they came out badly, they captured the event well.

If I could find that Hana

Waimoku Falls
Digging through the Pentax, I remember I bought a tripod to try to photograph waterfalls. During numerous attempts (read: angry Nico staring at me and wondering when I'll be done), I realized I really need some better filters to shoot waterfalls.

I was no better at family portraits
The date on the pictures tells me that those were from a July trip to Hana when we were fortunate enough to stay at the Travaasa. Because we're not made of money, we recently went for a more budget experience at Wai'anapanapa State Park. It's pretty much the best $13 you can spend on Maui.
Didn't get a lot of help setting up this beauty

My goofy girls
One nice thing about camping right above Black Sand Beach is you are most likely going to be the first person on Black Sand Beach.
Black Sand Beach
One not so nice thing is that there is nobody there to rescue you in the often rough waters of Black Sand Beach. 

I didn't even have to ask her to wear the floats

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ireland I (Searching for Princesses)

Jet lag is always a good reason to post, especially when there are non-Hawaii vacation photos.

Kinbane Castle [Castle #1]
The cab driver taking us to Kelly's Cellars recommended Castle #1. He was Irish, so he was a little hard to understand, but the gist of it was something like: 'Everyone goes to the Giants Causeway. It's just a bunch of rocks. And the rope bridge? The guidebooks all show it swinging in the wind and they tell you it's 100 feet high. They replaced the bridge years ago. It doesn't swing and it's only like 20 feet high.' It sounded much better with an Irish accent...and he may have been pulling our legs about the bridge, though it is difficult for me to judge these things since I am afraid of heights.

Limerick Castle [Castle #2]
My memory card indicates that we visited Castle #2 while passing through Limerick during our never ending Irish road trip (a stop which also included a snack at the Limerick Milk Market). I don't remember much about Limerick Castle accept that 1) Castles have a lot of stairs and 2) Better preserved castles get to charge admission.

Blarney Castle [Castle #3]
A look back at an old post shows that my photos of the world's second germiest attraction have disappeared into the ethers. Someday, when I am extra bored, I'll go about replacing all those dead links. (The picture would have shown me stepping in Seattle's Gum Wall, which I understand has since been scraped away. It was a pretty gross tourist attraction, but note: it was only the bottom of my shoe that touched it.) FYI: they don't clean the Blarney Stone very in, like twice since 1990. As we entered Blarney Castle, an unfortunate man fell from an un-survivable height (reported to not have been from the area housing the Stone). We elected to continue inward to shield the girls from the commotion. The castle was shut down for several hours afterwards.

Waterford Castle [Castle #4]
Castle #4 was home for two nights. Actually, the Waterford Castle Lodges were home for two nights. I suppose that's not nearly as impressive as staying in the castle, except that the lodges are 3 bedrooms (with a beautiful fireplace downstairs), while the castle rooms could not accommodate the four of us.

On the thrones at Stirling Castle [Castle #6]
I should probably start a new post for Scottish Castles, but I don't think there are very many more, and I am now about as sick of writing about castles as I was about visiting them. It was raining at Edinburgh Castle, so all my photos are on the Sony...which I hope Nicole has somewhere, because I am unable to locate it. [Although the Pentax is supposed to be water resistant, once the lens gets wet, it doesn't take very good pictures until I clean it.] In Scotland, they upsell you when you try to pay for admission: "Are you going to visit any more castles? Because for $19 more you can get into so many more castles..." Or something like that. Scottish people are even more difficult to understand that Irish people. That extra money goes towards extra preservation. Stirling Castle was complete with recreated furniture. Or maybe not complete, but the castle comes at least partly furnished.

Stirling Castle [Castle #6]

With our search for Nessie proving futile,
Urquhart Castle promised to offer a better vantage point of Loch Ness. Apparently, even if your castle is in ruins, you can charge admission if there's a sea monster living in the backyard. 
Urquhart Castle [Castle #7]

Urquhart Castle [Castle #7]

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chickens of Maui
There appears to be a disproportionate number of roosters on Maui. This observation is most evident around three in the morning, but a quick walk or drive around any non-touristy area will quickly confirm it. As driving an electric car can be a little dull (unless it's a Tesla), I've come up with a few possible reasons for the disparity during my morning commute. [Note: I know nothing about raising chickens, have little knowledge of chicken biology, and in no way mean to imply that chickens are anything like humans.]

1) The hens are home keeping their eggs warm. Do hens really do this, or is it something they do when they're in a cage and there's nowhere else to sit? Is it even necessary on Maui? From watching them around the hospital, it looks like each hen lays her eggs in like 12 different holes...

2) Somebody is catching the females and keeping them for egg laying purposes. Certainly a possibility, but there are so many free roaming chickens and I know so few people that keep them that I doubt there would be much effect.

3) Hens are being killed at a higher rate in traffic accidents. Every morning I have to slow down or stop to avoid chickens. Almost always, this is the result of a slow moving hen. Roosters will increase their speed or change direction when they see me coming, but hens nearly always continue on their original course. I do not think roosters are smarter than their female counterparts, I believe it is more likely that hens are just more stubborn.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Permanent Vacation

So about a month ago, I injured my knee. On a stand up paddle board. I didn't think you could hurt yourself on a stand up paddle board. I was wrong. Fortunately, aside from some knee pain, the only thing affected has been my ability to run. Although I run a lot (and have to recover by September for a race), I don't really like running very much. To pass the time, I have been doing an excessive amount of stand up paddle boarding. Some of you might think stand up paddle boarding with an injured knee is a bad idea...

Often, while out on the crystal clear water, I wish I were snorkeling instead of paddle boarding.
The camera makes the water look green

Today I brought along a mask and snorkel just in case I had regrets about the morning activity. This just in: snorkeling from a stand up paddle board presents some difficulties. Most notably, many of the reefs are in rocky areas. If you're worried about your board getting slammed into the rocks, you might want to leave it home...or maybe bring an anchor. Almost as important, nearby snorkelers are completely oblivious to their surroundings. If your board is drifting around, it will probably hit somebody. If you anchor your board, someone will still probably find a way to bump into it. Anyway, after about 15 seconds in the water, this Hawaiian Bull Honu charged me. When I take the camera off of him, that's me taking evasive action.

In other news, the North end of Po'olenalena Beach is occasionally a bit of a nude beach. Old naked man who was out snorkeling: There's no need to give me a dirty look just because I'm out on a paddle board where you're swimming. Put some clothes on if my presence bothers you. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Hate Everyone

Driving home from Costco yesterday (where I had to buy an unplanned pair of tires), I spot a Ford Mustang convertible on Dairy Road. [Note: all photos in this post are stock file footage. Taking pictures while driving a 17 year old Jeep is crazy.] The Mustang is driven by this old couple...Not unusual, except the back seat is filled with suitcases and two Boogies Boards. First I think: That's a lot of luggage for a couple of old people in a Mustang (I assume there's a trunk). Then I think: Boogie Boards are kind of a strange Costco purchase for a couple of old people; but maybe since they went with the convertible, they're super fun/active old people. Maybe they read about the persistent south swell that's been destroying everyone's hopes for snorkeling the last few days. Or maybe Costco is out of beach chairs...
And then I see it. The silver convertible Mustang driven by old people is being followed by a white convertible mustang, this one driven/occupied by teenagers. The two mustangs are having fun honking and waving at each other.
Are they all cousins with their grand parents? Maybe they're brother and sister and they each got to bring a friend. Are they here on an annual trip with the grandparents? I don't care. I hate everybody in Hawaii under the age of 25.
Memories of family trips from my childhood: 1) The time we drove to Death Valley to collect minerals (rocks). 2) The time we drove to Northern California to look for minerals (gold).
The actual driver/passenger were much older than this.
Yeah, you can still buy Boogie Boards.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Friends, Family, and Coworkers

It is with mellow joy that I tender my resignation, effective immediately. I have enjoyed my short time here at Maui Memorial Medical Center, but have found working in an American Hospital (even if it is on Maui) to be entirely too stressful. Fortunately, I have been offered a job managing Woody Harrelson’s All Natural Pharmacy and Dispensary. Please come and visit us for all your Medical needs*.

*Hours are 10AM to 2PM weekdays (weather permitting).

Note: Woody Harrelson’s All Natural Pharmacy and Dispensary will be closed on the following holidays**:

New Year's Day, Lee-Jackson Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday, Confederate Heroes Day, Rosa Parks Day, Lincoln's Birthday, President's Day, Washington's Birthday, Texas Independence Day, Mardi Gras Day, Town Meeting Day, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day, Seward's Day, César Chávez Day, DC Emancipation Day, Good Friday, Patriots' Day, San Jacinto Day, Arbor Day, Confederate Memorial Day, Primary Election Day, Truman Day, Confederate Memorial Day, Memorial Day, Jefferson Davis Day, King Kamehameha Day, Emancipation Day / Juneteenth, West Virginia Day, Independence Day, Pioneer Day, Victory Day, Bennington Battle Day, Statehood Day, Lyndon B. Johnson Day, Labor Day, Native American Day, Columbus Day, Alaska Day, Nevada Day, General Election Day, Return Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Friday, American Indian Heritage Day, Family Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve

**Where a holiday falls on a weekend, Woody Harrelson’s All Natural Pharmacy and Dispensary will be closed on both the preceding Friday and the following Monday.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Things not to do on a cold day

To clarify: Cold in Hawaii is anything under 80 degrees.

I bought a Jeep, because Maui seems like the perfect place to own a convertible and there are not very many convertibles that fit four people...and I really thought yet another PT Cruiser would be a bad idea. Unfortunately, Maui is not the perfect place to own a convertible. It is too sunny nearly all the time. Fortunately, driving a Jeep with the doors and windows off (and a roof over your head) is a nearly perfect experience. I didn't really understand why someone might spend $20,000 making their Jeep into a better offroad vehicle. Maybe I still don't understand the $20,000, but after four miles (in each direction) on a light 4WD trail, I kind of get the appeal.

Had we moved here from California, I probably would not have been that interested in driving an hour up hill to see a Redwood Forest. But coming from New Zealand (where Redwoods were planted 100 years ago in hopes of logging them), it seemed like a fun road trip.

Anyway, if your children are cold at sea level, I would highly recommend making them wear long pants and coats if you're going to take them to 6000 feet.