He Gets No Respect

The noble Malt wearing the ignoble Cone of Shame.

The noble Malt wearing the ignoble Cone of Shame.

Our favorite Malt has been complaining of late that he does not receive the respect to which he believes he is entitled by the accident of his birth. The problem is that he has been condemned to a short stint in the Cone of Shame due to excessive ear scratching which led to a small infection. He will be fine but hates being the center of comic attention as he walks around bumping into everything in the condo.

But what about this issue of Malts deserving respect? Perhaps we should look back into Malt history.

It was none other than Charles “Chuck” Darwin, who said that Maltese originated about 600 BC thus qualifying the fluff-butts as one of earth’ s oldest holders of Canidea status. But even Chuck could never settle on just one name for the beast.

At one time or another, the Maltese has been called the Maltese Terrier, the Lion Dog of Malta, Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta, Melitaire Dog, the Roman Ladies’ Dog, the Spanish Gentle. The Shock Dog and The Comforter.

The Elizabethans couldn't tell one of these from the other.

The Elizabethans couldn’t tell one of these from the other. So they called both “Comforters.”

All these names hint at the breed’s long history traipsing around the ancient trade routes of the Mediterranean. The names “Maltese” and “Melitaire” suggest that the pup hails from the island of Malta. Aristotle said that the breed was living there during his time (384-322BC).

But Ari could have been wrong. There is good evidence that the Maltese is not really an islander at all but rather a dog of the mountains that started out in Switzerland. Other evidence points to Egyptian origins or perhaps Phoenician.

Maltese dogs appear in art and literature as early as the fourth century B.C. They were treasured by both Greeks and Romans of old and kept at the courts of Turkey and China. A Maltese appears as a symbol of fidelity in one of the renowned fifteenth-century Lady and the Unicorn tapestries.

Notice the Malt on the tapestry. It's a symbol of fidelity or perpetual appetite, one or the other.

Notice the Malt on the table in the tapestry. It’s a symbol of fidelity or perpetual appetite, one or the other.

In Elizabethan times, the Malts were called “Comforters” in the belief that they could relieve pain and cure illness simply by snuggling under the bedclothes next to the sufferer.

And if the dogs didn’t really have a medicinal effect, there’s no doubt that having a fluffy and sympathetic bedmate to warm your toes or provide a consoling lick on the hand when you’re not feeling well can’t hurt.

The “Shock Dog” appellation does not relate to the reaction of owners when presented with the grooming bill, but for their “shock” of long hair. Buying a Malt in the early 1600s would also be a shock – they sold for a five-figure equivalent price.

Mary Sturat was a Maltese fancier and see where that got her.

Mary Sturat was a Maltese fancier and see where that got her.

Rival queens Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, both owned representatives of this breed, and it was one of her Maltese that accompanied Mary to the axeman’s block, hiding under her skirts until after she was beheaded. The faithful pet, its white coat now drenched in its mistress’s blood, was finally rescued by one of the executioners.

Happily, it was spared the Queen’s gruesome fate and (after a bath) lived out its life with a French princess where no doubt it enjoyed a tastier diet and then pooped on the sidewalk like every other French dog in existence. But I digress.

In the 19th century small Maltese were all the rage and bred to be the size of a squirrel. The tiny doglets spent much of their time burrowed in the billowy sleeves and ample, heaving bosoms of their mistresses’ clothes.

The breed continued to draw admirers near and far, especially among the glitterati of the time. Queen Victoria (of cruise liner fame) wrote a letter of condolence to the Duchess of Kent upon the passing of the duchess’s Maltese, Lambkin, indicating the high esteem with which this dog was regarded by its royal acquaintances.

In 1877 the Maltese made its debutante appearance at the Westminster Dog Show. Its popularity as a “trophy dog” in the 19th century helped promote similar breeds such as the Bichon Frise.

Maltese are still celebrity dogs whose owners include folks as diverse as Lindsey Lohan whose dog is named Chloe and Britney Spears who calls her fuzzbutt “Malt Liquor.” Oh wait, there’s no diversity there at all and Brit’s dog is not really named Malt Liquor either, but her fuzzbutt is.

Britney, Lindsey and Leona...celebrity Maltese owners. Poor dogs. Poor, poor dogs.

Britney, Lindsey and Leona…celebrity Maltese owners. Poor dogs. Poor, poor dogs.

Eva Longoria has a famous Maltese named Jinxie. Elizabeth Taylor had a Maltese named Sugar. Heather Locklear has a Malt named Harley and Halle Berry has 2 Malts: Straw Berry and Blue Berry. Nope, lieing again, their names really are Willy and Polly but I like my version better.

Other well known owners of the little white dog are/were Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Lee Remick, Kristin Chenoweth, Mia Farrow and Star Jones.

Leona Helmsley’s (The Queen of Mean) Maltese dog named Trouble, was left a $12 million dollar trust fund. Her will declared that the dog was to be buried alongside her and her late husband in a mausoleum. Leona also left $3 million for the continuous care of that mausoleum. A judge later overturned this, and the dog was given only $2 million dollars. They say late at night at the mausoleum you can hear her dead husband still crying over Leona’s financial decisions.

We don’t pay much attention to our favorite Malt’s noble lineage. He’s only as good as his latest tricks. Speaking of which, here is a short video of Max doing a few tricks. The (cough) “film” was produced and directed by the AJF who is normally computer-averse. She is inordinately proud of this epic and I’m smart enough to keep my trap shut.

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Max Visits The Queen

What? Did you just say we are going to see a Queen?

What? Did you just say we are going to see a Queen?

The majestic cruise ship Queen Victoria arrived for a one day port call in Honolulu enroute to the South Pacific and a continuation of its around the world voyage.

The Queen Victoria visited for only one day enroute to the rest of her around the world journey. Here she is at Pier 8, Honolulu Harbor.

The Queen Victoria visited for only one day enroute to the rest of her around the world journey. Here she is at Pier 8, Honolulu Harbor.

Max and I invited the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) to join us on a walk down by the docks to take a peek at this ship and join us for an imaginary cruise with the rich and famous.

It was a misty day with mauka showers passing overhead so not prime photography weather but, hey, this Hawaii so how bad can it be?

The MS Queen Victoria, to give her proper name, is a sister ship with Cunard Lines two other “Queens”, the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Mary 2.

Max and my date for our imaginary voyage across the 7 Seas.

Max and my date for our imaginary voyage across the 7 Seas.

This 965 foot Panamax-sized vessel has twelve decks for 2,014 passengers and 900 crew and features seven restaurants, thirteen bars, three swimming pools, a ballroom, and a theater. Yet, at 90,000 tons, she is the smallest of the ships. Launched in 2007, she is also the newest of the Three Queens.

Interestingly, the Queen Victoria is not considered an ocean liner. Rather, she is classified as a cruise ship, the distinctions being fixed routes and schedules, heavier hull plating, larger fuel capacities and storage areas and a different mission: ocean liners are primarily mercantile vessels with pleasure passengers being a sideline. As of 2015, the RMS Queen Mary 2 is the only ship still in service as a true ocean liner.

Cunard photo of QV's central atrium area.

Cunard photo of QV’s central atrium area.

QV, as I call her, is theoretically a classless ship with all passengers being equal.

But we all know that some passengers are more equal than others based on the price of their tickets and so it is on the Three Queens where there are different dinner restaurants.

It all depends on which class you are classless in.

Other than that, the great unwashed from the lower decks are permitted to mingle in all public areas and pollute the rarefied air intended for the better class of traveler.

I want Max to come along with us so we can all play together. There's plenty of room.

I want Max to come along with us so we can all play together. There’s plenty of room.

A 120-day around the world ticket on her floating majesty will pinch your Visa to the tune of $62,000 for a rather modest suite.

You can spend lots more if you are motivated towards plushier accommodations such as one of the four Master Suites which offer you about 2,000 square feet to spread out.

They are located aft, with great ocean views from their private wrap-around balconies, which contain a complete wet bar.

The suites have two bedrooms with walk-in closets; bathroom with bathtub and separate shower enclosure; lounge; and a dining room with seating for six. The Malt approves; two paws way up.

I'll wear out my tuxedo shoes prancing from venue to venue. I wonder if there is a casino?

I’ll wear out my tuxedo shoes prancing from venue to venue. I wonder if there is a casino?

On the other hand, if you are a cheapskate, $20,000 will get you a room on bottom decks for 120 days where you can spend your miserly and miserable existence re-enacting scenes from Titanic, the movie.

Returning home from their world cruises, the Three Queens will line up together in Southampton on May 3rd and then will meet again in Liverpool on May 25th to celebrate Cunard’s 175th anniversary.

When they sail up the Mersey together on May 25 it will be only the fourth place on the globe where the trio of ships has met. In 2011, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria gathered in New York.

The Queens sailing in Lisbon in 2014, photo by James Morgan.

The Queens sailing in Lisbon in 2014, photo by James Morgan.

In 2014, the Three Queens met once again, this time on the River Tagus at Lisbon.

Finally, the Queens came together formally twice in their regular home port of Southampton – once to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and again shortly after their Lisbon meeting last year.

The AJF and I have been on two cruises, one to Alaska and one around the Hawaiian Islands, both aboard lovely Norwegian Cruise Lines vessels.  She is a big fan of this type of holiday; I was less impressed although I enjoyed my time on-board.

One wonders if any Royals have actually used the spa? If so, please pass the Royal Loofah while I exfoliate.

One wonders if any Royals have actually used the spa? If so, please pass the Royal Loofah while I exfoliate.

Neither of us are enthralled by all-you-can-possibly-shove-down-your-gullet consumption which appeared to be one of the major attractions for many cruise passengers but we liked the shows and entertainment, the lectures and lounging. I liked the gym and the AJF liked the spa so all in all we were happy cruisers.

I think it would be different on the Queen Victoria. I told the AJF she would have to wear a ball gown better than any seen by Kate Middleton and I a baby blue tuxedo that would shame Jared Leto. Wait a minute…   The Malt would have a jeweled harness and a collar studded with 500 Swarovski crystals. We giggled.

Is this too feminine or dainty for Maxwell? What do you think?

Is this too feminine or dainty for Maxwell? What do you think?

She told me we would dine on pheasant and keep the glass it came under. Champagne would flow and we would dance as though our hips don’t hurt and we would teach Max to pirouette and properly bow when meeting other posh dogs.

Our imaginary voyage was marvelous and we enjoyed the trip, full of dreams about sailing in a style we will never experience and maybe that’s the best trip of all – the perfect one in your mind’s eye where nothing ever goes awry and Maltese are always welcome.

He dreams of meeting canine princesses and sipping his water from crystal bowls.

He dreams of meeting canine princesses and sipping his water from crystal bowls.

By the time we got home, the princely pupster was tuckered and ready for a nap.

That night we ate rolled cabbages and it was almost as good as pheasant.

Fair winds and following seas, Queen Victoria!

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Max Visits Sandy’s

Kohelepelepe on the right with snorkel-Mecca Hanauma Bay on the left.

Kohelepelepe on the right with snorkel-Mecca Hanauma Bay on the left. Sandy’s is the beach on the far right.

To get to Sandy’s we first have to get past the lady parts.

See, the road from Honolulu to the popular bodysurfing beach known as Sandy’s takes us past Koko Head Crater, a dramatic volcanic tuff cone whose name in Hawaiian is Kohelepelepe which means, uh, cough, “labia minora.”

In the legends of Pele, the goddess of the volcano, one of Pele’s sisters attempted to attract a demi-god by the name of Kamapua’a by throwing her va-jay-jay to this spot. Kamapua’a, by the way, appears in Hawaiian legends in the form of a pig. A handsome pig, but pig nonetheless.

Carving of the demi-god Kamapua'a by Kawika Eskaran at Kualoa Ranch. Irresistable dude, just drop the Kohelepelepe.

Carving of the demi-god Kamapua’a by Kawika Eskaran at Kualoa Ranch. Irresistable dude, just drop the Kohelepelepe.

Look, I just report this stuff; I don’t make it up. Okay, that’s enough morning TV talk for the moment.

Once past the urogynecologist’s dream site the road to Sandy’s passes some very beloved spots favored by our 8 million visitors each year as well as locals.

We pass the famed snorkel spot Hanauma Bay and the Halona Blowhole, where sea water rushes through a submerged tunnel in the lava rock, compresses vast quantities of air and then geysers into the atmosphere in time with the waves.

Next to the Blowhole is a small inlet and beach area that garnered attention as the place of the William Holden/Deborah Kerr love scene in the 1950s movie From Here to Eternity.

Burning passion at Cockroach Gulch. "I love how your fingers feel." "Those are not my fingers."

Burning passion at Cockroach Gulch. “I love how your fingers feel.” “Those are not my fingers.”

Hollywood and the Hawaii Tourism Authority would like visitors to call this idyllic place “Eternity Cove” but to locals it’s known as “Cockroach Gulch” after the sizable population of 3” Periplaneta americana that inhabit a narrow lava tube at the base of the wall framing the cove.

After the Blowhole, we start along the last wild stretch of Oahu coast line, an area called the Ka Iwi Coast. Ka Iwi literally means “The Bones” in reference to its historical significance as the launching point for King Kamehameha I’s campaign to unite the Hawaiian Islands and where Pele, the Goddess of Fire, first arrived and then departed from the island on her travels. Ka Iwi is also the name of the adjacent channel between Oahu and Molokai, our nearest neighbor island and a reliable place to whale-watch in the winter months.

Finally, the Malt arrives at Sandy’s. The name itself is a bit of a puzzle. Most newcomers refer to it as “Sandy Beach” and that makes sense because the sand there is very fine and notorious for getting into everything including, probably, your Kohelepelepe.

Heading towards Sandy's, the part known as Wawamalu in Hawaiian.

Heading towards Sandy’s, the part known as Wawamalu in Hawaiian.

But locals and makule (well-seasoned) guys like me always refer to the beach as Sandy’s using the possessive form which recalls old tales of a fisherman of that name who frequented the rocks near the blowhole. Others say that “Sandys” without the apostrophe is just a local pidgin form. Whatever.

In Hawaiian there is no single name for the beach. The bodysurfing area is called Wāwāmalu which sort of means tumultuous or thundering roar. The other end is named ʻŌkuʻu which means to crouch and probably refers to folks hunched around a healing stone near the ocean.

Ebony and ivory. Watch out, Max, a crab might get ya.

Ebony and ivory. Watch out, Max, a crab might get ya.

In addition to  its super-fine sand, Sandy’s is known for some really rugged shore break surf. How rugged? Well, more injuries occur annually at Sandy’s than any other beach in the State of Hawaiʻi. It is also a formidable consumer of bikini tops.

The problem is that many experienced bodysurfers are always in the water, making riding the waves look easy. Visitors unfamiliar with the beach misjudge the dangers and often get into trouble. For this reason, lifeguards have been stationed at Sandy since 1971 and they are very busy. Searching for missing bikini tops among other activities.

The brown is the water is sand. The water is about 18 inches deep at the wave bottom. Oof.

The brown is the water is sand. The water is about 18 inches deep at the wave bottom. Oof. The photo is of a contest, that’s why they are wearing colored hats.

Sandy’s famous waves are formed by a quick change in the ocean bottom. The sea bottom at Sandy’s is mostly sand patches and shallow rock ledges.

At the water’s edge the bottom drops off abruptly to an average depth of eight to ten feet.

This abrupt change in depth creates the steep, hard-breaking waves in Sandy’s shorebreak, which in turn generate ferocious rip currents.

Besides the shorebreak, Sandy’s has several other popular bodysurfing and bodyboarding sites: Pipe Littles and Half Point in front of the bathroom and a board surfing break called Full Point on an offshore reef near the east end of the beach.

The non-beach dog consents to a short walk bu the a'a lava is too sharp for soft paws.

The non-beach dog consents to a short walk but the ‘a’a lava is too sharp for soft paws. The malt disdains the great outdoors.

In my younger days, I was an avid bodysurfer owing mostly to a lack of the fast twitchy muscles that would have made me a better board surfer.

For years I surfed at Sandy’s but it was never my preferred location simply because of the beating it delivered on every visit.

This part of Oahu was quite remote until recently. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was used for ranching, a practice that changed the ecology as native vegetation like beach sandalwood was replaced by Kiawe (mesquite) and Wiliwili for cattle feed.

It is a harsh land of low, wind-swept dunes and ‘a’a lava – the very sharp crumbly kind of volcanic output not at all like the smooth, flowing, gloopy stuff (pahoehoe) produced by the current eruption on the Big Island.

It's a rugged coastline, the last wild coast on the island of Oahu.

It’s a rugged coastline, the last wild coast on the island of Oahu.

Sandy’s was not accessible by automobile until 1931, when a coastal road following the cliffs from Hanauma Bay was completed.

The new road attracted sightseers and campers, along with the fisher folk, but few swimmers because of the rough seas and rip currents.

The area was ripped by major tsunamis at least four times during the last century, involving the Aleutian tsunamis of 1946 and 1957, the 1952 Kamchatka Tsunami, and 1960 Chile Tsunami.

Last vestige of the rock walls that once divided the ranch lands, destroyed by the tsunamis in the 1930s and 1940s.

Last vestige of the rock walls that once divided the ranch lands, destroyed by the tsunamis in the 1930s and 1940s.

These tsunamis had the side effect of destroying all of the recorded archaeological sites within the coastal plain.

To this day, parts of the Ka Iwi coast line are sterilized by the salt washed ashore by the tsunamis which are reported to have reach 36 feet in height.

During the late 1940s and 1950s, when not dodging tsunamis, bodysurfers taught themselves how to ride the shorebreak and by the 1960s, the beach had become a popular destination.

The malt heads for what little shade is availabale. "I'm ready for my ice cream, now."

The malt heads for what little shade is availabale. “I’m ready for my ice cream, now.” Note the AJF’s cold weather gear. It was below 80 degrees so she bundled.

In 1968, when the City of Honolulu improved the park and added a restroom/shower facility, Sandy’s became one of the most popular beaches among teenagers and its reputation as a dare devil wave-riding site was solidified in the 1970s with the introduction of the bodyboard or paipo.

In the 1980s and 1990s there were many attempts by developers to build on the precious resource of wild coast line. Fortunately, citizen action and push-back defeated the developers. The City re-zoned sections of the land to put it off-limits to moneyed interests and, finally, in 2010 the state of Hawaii protected the last sections by re-designating them from “urban” to “conservation.”

Beach flower.

Beach flower.

In October 2014, Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang proposed changing the name of Sandy’s to “President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park.”

That proposal really got our collective Kohelepelepe in a twist. The plans were dropped due to howls of opposition from the public.

Max enjoyed his visit to Sandy’s but he liked the ice cream cone we bought him even more. He’s not much of a beach dog but he’s always a willing companion as we travel Oahu exploring our island home.

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Max the Catfish

Urban Dictionary:

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

Example:”Did you hear how Dave got totally catfished last month?! The fox he thought he was talking to turned out to be a pervy guy from San Diego!”

or

“I was really falling for that gorgeous gal on Facebook, but she turned out to be a catfish.”

Deceptive dog is deceptive.

Deceptive dog is deceptive.

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Bruce, I Feel Your Pain

Again the Fates conspired to mock what little dignity remains in my life. Here’s what happened:

The Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) was scheduled for one of those regular check ups of female plumbing parts about which we males know little and want to know even less.

It was gynecology time, and I was dragooned to drive her to the appointment because this was a new doctor and new location and she was concerned about finding a place to park in time.

Ever compliant I agreed to the trek and we arrived about 15 minutes early. The AJF was the first appointment of the day. She asked if I would mind coming into the office with her and helping her fill out the reams of forms that a new doctor visit entails.

As an English-as-a-second-language person, the AJF shares with others of that ilk an unfounded insecurity about her comprehension of medical terms and a reluctance to fill out “official” documents without assistance. It makes no sense as her vocabulary, word choice and handwriting are all superior to mine and I tend to doodle on the forms when bored which really annoys the girls at the desk but I digress.

The point is, I foolishly agreed to follow her into the doctor’s office. Turns out the guy is a “urogynecologist”, a subspecialty I never heard of before. That should have been my cue to flee.

Anyway, we are alone in the office. The nice desk lady hands over a sheaf of documents and I dutifully start to complete them – by now I know all the AJF’s details, meds and dates and such, a side effect of being together so long.

The nurse then comes out and says, “Ma’am, I’ll take you in the back for vitals while your husband completes the forms.” The AJF stands and asks me to hold her purse while she goes into the other room.

I am now the only person in the waiting room, but not for long. Soon, in come gaggles of females. Some tall, some thin, some pregnant, some with children but all female. Like hyenas on the Serengeti they sense an interloper in their midst, an anomaly, a singularity that must be destroyed.

There I am: a big, bearded dude in a ball cap, tee shirt, shorts and flip-flops sitting in the waiting room of a urogynecologist completing medical documents with no corresponding female unit in sight and…I have a purse.

They look askance at me and I realize they are concerned they’ve met Bruce Jenner’s doppelganger, only bigger.

Wait, it gets worse.

The nice desk lady says, “Sir, if you are done completing your medical history form, I’ll take that from you.” She said “your” medical history. The implications are clear to the assembled females who start twittering amongst themselves. Children start pointing. I recall the saying that downed Russians used in Afghanistan, “Always save one bullet for when the women come for you.”

It continues to go south.

The nurse comes out and says, “I’ll take you back to the doctor’s office now.” I guess the AJF asked for me to be present to help with the lingo but the nurse makes it sound like I’m due to hit the table and spread ‘em. Come on big boy, put your feet in the stirrups and cough (or whatever gets done there.)

I get up and do a long walk of shame because the office door requires me to traverse the entire length of the waiting room while under the now disapproving stares of about 9 women. Hisses, forked fingers and spit follow me.

I longed to dig a hole, crawl into it and die.

You would think that when we finally emerged all would be understood and my presence accepted, but no. By the time we came out, all the original females had been shuttled off to wherever they go in these offices and the best I can say is that my escape was quick, painless and most importantly, anonymous.

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Max Visits The Pali

The AJF possibly threatening dogicide at the cliff riling.

The AJF, possibly threatening Max with dogicide at the Pali.

In Hawaiian, pali means any steep slope or cliff but when folks on Oahu talk about the Pali they refer to a very specific spot, a small saddle of land on the crest of the Ko’olau mountain range that separates the eastern, windward coast from the rest of the island.

The Ko’olau mountains are not very tall; the highest peak is only 3,100 feet.

By the way, Ko’olau means “windward” in Hawaiian and that 3,100′ peak is Konahuanui which means “man from Kona with big balls” but I digress.

Interestingly, the mountain range is actually the western rim of a massive volcano that slid into the ocean a million and a half years ago. The landslide generated a tsunami wave over two thousand feet high that rose up and covered ninety-five percent of the island of Lanai. Today, geologists find coral high up on the mountain slopes of Lanai that trace back to this event.

The pup and I enjoying the panoramic view from the Pali Lookout.

The pup and I enjoying the panoramic view from the Pali Lookout. The haze is from “vog”, a volcanic smog drifting from the Big Island’s Kilauea Crater.

The Pali is most famous as the site of an epic battle that took place in May 1795 while King Kamehameha I was uniting the islands of Hawaii.

The fight is known as the Battle of Nu’uanu, which is the name of a valley on the eastern slope of the Ko’olau range.  Kamehameha and his 10,000 warriors arrived from the Big Island in 960 war canoes and promptly corralled their enemies at the head of the valley. They pushed them ever further uphill until they reached the Pali, at which point Kamehameha drove them over the edge to fall 1,186 feet.

Painting by artist Herb Kane of a really bad day for  the Oahu warriors.

Painting by artist Herb Kane of a really bad day for the Oahu warriors.

The Pali has always posed a formidable obstacle to folks wanting to get from Honolulu to the windward side.

Records indicate that intrepid, ancient Hawaiians did climb across the Pali but it was truly a death-defying endeavor and only the fittest or most foolish made the trek.

Much later a hiking track was eventually driven through the rain forest and across the lava rock and despite the slippery slopes, people crossed often. The travelers’ technique was to strap supplies and small children to their backs  while traversing the trail.

Building the Pali Road, mid 1950s. This is where the lookout is located today.

Building the Pali Road. This is where the lookout is located today.

The hiking trail was widened in 1845 and in 1897, construction started on a narrow and treacherous two lane paved road.

The road workers found eight hundred skulls piled at the foot of the Pali – all that was left of the warriors who were defeated by Kamehameha in the Battle of Nu’unau.

As you might imagine, there are beaucoup ghost stories and folk tales about this area of the island. Imprecations abound.

Don’t carry pork over the Pali. Beware the apparition of Madame Pele who shows herself as an old woman with long white hair and a small white dog.

Spooky Morgan;s Corner on the old road below the lookout.

Spooky Morgan’s Corner on the old road below the lookout.

Stay away from the huaka’i, the ghosts of the ancient warriors, the Night Marchers lest you make eye contact and must join their march forever.

By all means do not stop at Morgan’s Corner, site of a gruesome (although probably apocryphal) murder or suicide, depending on the storyteller.

This is one of the few remaining stretches of the original road across the island to the windward side. Back then there was no railing.

This is one of the few remaining stretches of the original road across the island to the windward side. Back then there was no railing.

In the late 1930’s plans were made to build a tunnel through the mountain in order to make the road less perilous.

When opened in 1959 this was a huge event for the residents of Oahu.

When opened in 1959 this was a huge event for the residents of Oahu.

Although delayed by WWII, in 1959 the road was completed and was considered quite the engineering masterpiece of its time.

Today, folks cross the Pali with all the bacon they want using a four-lane highway and two tunnels.

The old road is almost entirely gone but small stretches remain and today the AJF and I packed up the Malt and took the slower two-lane route up the famous cliff.

One of the grand old homes in the Dowsett neighborhood of Nu'uanu.

One of the grand old homes in the Dowsett neighborhood of Nu’uanu.

We started with a visit to the neighborhood called Dowsett which is home to many fine old estates, some of the grand dames of Hawaii architecture circa 1925.

These were the homes of the rich and famous of the day.

Another stereotype confirmed.

Another stereotype confirmed.

The area was popular because the higher elevation of Nuuanu Valley kept temperatures cooler in the summer.

 The summer palaces of the Hawaii monarchs were in this general vicinity. Max likes the level streets with nice sidewalks and groomed medians, all under a canopy of tall tress.

Oh yes, there is also an abundance of fire hydrants in the neighborhood which adds to its allure from a canine perspective.

The uphill road travels through a rain forest environment with lots of little waterfalls and dense undergrowth with flowering vines that climb and totally encapsulate the trees.

Water, water everywhere as Nuuanu stream tumbles through giant ferns and mossy rocks.

A local swimming hole called Jackass Gingers, about a half mile off the road.

A local swimming hole called Jackass Gingers, about a half mile off the road.

Passing through the tree tunnels we spot the occasional hiker heading for a small but popular swimming hole and waterfall spot known as Jackass Gingers, named for the plant the thrives in the area.

Small waterfalls and steams abound along the old road to the Pali.

Small waterfalls and steams abound along the old road to the Pali.

The actual Pali Lookout has been thoroughly developed by the State and attracts millions of visitors annually who take in expansive views of the windward coast and Kane’ohe town.

The lookout is known for its occasional fierce winds and it is also a starting point for several hikes ranging from mild and amusing to where-shall-I-send-the-body-if-found.

A couple of historical markers are easy to miss. One tells of the crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress on the Pali just four months after the Pearl Harbor attack and the other describes a world soaring record by a guy named William A. Cocke in his glider “The Nighthawk.”

Bomber Placque

On December 17, 1931, he launched from the Pali and flew for 21 ½ hours through the night, soaring over mountains lit up by the Army’s 64th Coast Artillery Battalion.

The sign commemorating an historic event in the history of soaring.

The sign commemorating an historic event in the history of soaring.

Max enjoyed his visit to the Pali, not so much for the views but because he was an attraction for many of the tourists who bestowed tons of pets, scratches and unearned praise on his fuzzy butt.

Hen and Chicks

Max wanted to play with these chicks and the Mama hen but was warned off by the rooster who lurked nearby.

He met a family of feral chickens and wanted to investigate but was intimidated by the rooster.

That put paid to his confidence level so we retreated to our car and drove home.

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Punxsutawney Max

Max went out this morning and saw his shadow.

Max shadow

That means 6 more weeks of winter.

Waikiki

Poor Max, poor us. But we’ll suffer on.

Hehehehe.

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Ornery Cuss?

You’ve probably seen the GoDaddy ad that was prepared for the Super Bowl but got pulled after folks went ballistic. If you missed it, here’s a look:

I have to admit, not without some shame, that I laughed when I first watched it. What struck me funny was the spot on parody of the touchy-feeley ads that are shoved down our throats on the Satan media known as TV.

On reflection I can understand some of the objections raised about the ad but continue to think that folks really are over sensitive about these things. In this case The Church of Perpetual Outrage seemed to be having an old-fashioned revival meeting, can I get a hallelujah?

But maybe I’m just an ornery cuss who needs to re-calibrate his sensitivity meter.

Max doesn’t much care because no Maltese were used in the commercial. But what do you think?

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Max Reflects on Kalaupapa

So beautiful but with a haunting and troubling past. The Kalaupapa Peninsula, site of the Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement on Molokai.

So beautiful but with a haunting and troubling past. The Kalaupapa Peninsula, site of the Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement on Molokai.

Sun, fun, a mai-tai. Some hula, perhaps a coconut, and grass skirts.

And leprosy.

What? Where did that last one come from?

Settle in kids and let’s talk about a lesser known part of Hawaii’s history.

No one knows when, or precisely how, leprosy arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, but State health records suggest local doctors had probably detected the disease by the late 1820s and certainly by a decade later.

By the way, “leper” is considered a derogatory term and the preferred name for the disease itself is “Hansen’s disease.” I use the historical name “leprosy” when talking about the disease in the past and “Hansen’s disease” for references in the current era. E kala mai, no offense intended. But I digress.

The Hawaiian street name for leprosy was mai pake or “Chinese disease” perhaps because Chinese immigrants were among the first diagnosed, perhaps because Chinese immigrants were familiar with the disease in their home country or because trading ships from China were thought to have brought the disease to the islands.

Whatever the derivation of the name, leprosy cut across all populations in the islands, but Hawaiians were particularly vulnerable to introduced diseases, having no immunities.

Extract from an Hawaiian language newspaper talking about how the government proposed to collect taxes from the people  at Kalaupapa suffering from leprosy. Some things never change, eh?

Extract from an Hawaiian language newspaper talking about how the government proposed to collect taxes from the people at Kalaupapa suffering from leprosy. Some things never change, eh?

By the mid-nineteenth century, the Hawaiian people suffered death and disfigurement at alarming rates.

While not a fast killing illness in and of itself, people afflicted with leprosy usually had short life spans, falling victim to other opportunistic diseases.

Leprosy was especially cruel to Hawaiians. They called it mai ho’oka’awale, meaning the “separating sickness” because it split families apart.

To Hawaiians, a person who is separated from his or her ohana – family – is wholly isolated and has no expectation or hope of support. Such a person is totally alone with no link to the land, the sea or to their ancestors; a horrible condition for a people who framed their personal identity within the context of their genealogy.

Fearing untamed spread of the disease, King Kamehameha V, on behalf of the Kingdom of Hawaii, set aside land for confining leprosy patients and the police were instructed to arrest any persons suspected of having the disease under the 1865 “Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy”.

A facility was opened in Honolulu to treat the ill but people with advanced cases of the disease were sent to the remote, isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula (originally named Makanalua) on the north shore of Molokai, a natural prison accessible only by sea or by hazardous pathways down 2000’ cliffs, some of the tallest ocean precipices in the world.

The Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement opened its doors to the sick and needy in 1866. It was first populated with nine men and three women who were allegedly tossed overboard with few provisions and told to swim for shore. Hawaii was the first nation in the world to institute legally enforced exile for people with the disease of leprosy.

From 1865 to 1873 there was no medical service for those exiles, even though they had been exiled on medical grounds. From 1873 until the 1880s some slight medical service was provided by a new arrival who had been employed as a physician’s assistant in Honolulu.

During the third quarter of the nineteenth century, incidence of the disease occurred in more than 1% of the population in Hawaii and the colony’s patient population peaked at around 1,100. Based on data from the Hawaii Board of Health, the mortality rate averaged 15% between 1865 and 1897.

Fear was the primary motivation for this inhumane treatment of sick people. Folks did not understand the disease. It was deemed incurable and was terribly disfiguring. No one knew how it spread or who was most susceptible. The apparent solution was almost inevitable: lock them up and throw away the key.

The new government policies faced resistance in some places. A so-called “Leper War” started in 1893 on Kauai when a deputy sheriff was shot and killed by an infected person while attempting to force an isolated leprosy colony in Kalalau Valley to be deported. Ultimately that “war” devolved to a Pyrrhic victory and nothing of lasting significance came from the dispute.

The Malt visits the Father Damien statue at the Hawaii State Capitol building.

The Malt visits the Father Damien statue at the Hawaii State Capitol building.

Amidst the great suffering there were stories of great heroism, none more significant than the dedication and work of a 33-year-old Belgian missionary Father Damien de Veuster who arrived in 1873.

Father Damien lived and worked in the colony and described himself as “the happiest missionary in the world”.

His work at Kalaupapa has been recognized as a model of compassionate care, and there are statues of Father Damien in the US and Hawaiian Capitol buildings. He was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in October, 2009.

Father Damien with the Kalawao Girls Choir, at Kalaupapa, Moloka'i, circa 1870s, via Wikimedia Commons

Father Damien with the Kalawao Girls Choir, at Kalaupapa, Moloka’i, circa 1870s, via Wikimedia Commons

After twelve years among the residents of Kalaupapa, Father Damien began to notice symptoms in his foot.

One day, while preparing a bath, he unknowingly placed his foot into scalding water. His skin blistered, but he felt nothing, a well known symptom of leprosy.

For what would be the last three years of his life, leprosy ravaged Damien’s body. What started as pain in his foot turned to open sores on his left hand and disfigurement of his face. All the while, he continued his priestly work, pushing the limits his deteriorating body imposed.

After his diagnosis as a leper, he was shunned by both civil and church leaders. Father Damien died of leprosy on April 15, 1889, at the age of 49. His body was buried in Molokai, but in 1936, at the request of the Belgian government, it was exhumed and returned to his homeland.

Sr. Marianne Cope took over from Father Damien in caring for the Kalaupapa community.

Sr. Marianne Cope took over from Father Damien in caring for the Kalaupapa community.

Another great story of compassion is the beautiful and caring Franciscan nun from Syracuse, Mother Marianne Cope.

In 1883, her religious order received from Hawaii’s King Kalakaua a personal plea for help in caring for leprosy sufferers. More than 50 religious congregations had already declined his request for assistance.

Cope and six other Sisters traveled to Honolulu to answer this call, arriving on November 8, 1883. The Sisters’ initial task was to manage the Kakaako Branch Hospital on Oahu, which served as a receiving station for leprosy patients gathered from all over the islands. The hospital processed the more severe cases and shipped them to Molokai. Later, she established the first general hospital on Maui.

In November, 1888 Cope moved to Kalaupapa, both to care for the dying Father Damien who was already famous internationally and to take over Father Damien’s burden in caring for the leper community. She had met the priest shortly after her arrival in Hawaii, when, while still in good health, Father Damien had gone to Oahu to attend the dedication of the chapel in the hospital she was establishing.

When Father Damien died, the government officially gave Cope charge for the care of the boys of Kalaupapa, as well as her original commission for the female residents of the colony. Acceptance of this assignment meant that she could never return home to Syracuse yet she agreed enthusiastically to dedicate her life to helping the sick.

Our favorite Fluff Pup visits the statue of Marianne Cope. Btw, the giant yacht in the upper left corner is Larry Ellison's "Musashi".

Our favorite Fluff Pup visits the statue of Sr. Marianne Cope. The giant yacht in the upper left corner is Larry Ellison’s “Musashi“.

Cope never contracted leprosy; she died on August 9, 1918, due to natural causes. Her remains were returned to Syracuse in 2005. She was canonized, in other words declared a saint, by the Catholic Church on October 21, 2012.

A statue of Marianne Cope is located in Waterfront Park in the Kakaako neighborhood of Oahu. Flowers frequently appear at the statue, sources unknown.

By 1900, the number of new patients in the islands began a slow decline. While still stigmatized the peninsula became a destination for the adventurous tourists of the day.

The Kalaupapa Settlement as Jack London would have seen it.

The Kalaupapa Settlement as Jack London would have seen it.

Jack London wrote about his visit to the island colony in 1908, saying that, from a distance and thanks to its reputation, it seemed “the pit of hell, the most cursed place on earth.”

But after landing and spending time with the residents – watching horse races and listening to dinnertime sing-a-longs – he found himself to be “having a disgracefully good time along with eight hundred of the lepers who were likewise having a good time.”

The early visitors were looked on as daring and intrepid souls even though it is now generally agreed that up to 95% of the world’s population is genetically immune to this mild but persistent infectious disease and even among susceptible individuals the incubation period for leprosy is up to thirty years.

Antibiotic treatments for the condition began in the 1930s to block transmission of the infection and medical advances and drugs eliminated the contagious effects of leprosy in the 1940s.

Although Hawaii’s official policy was not retracted until 1969, the forced isolation of leprosy patients ended about twenty years earlier. At that time, celebrities such as Shirley Temple and John Wayne went to Kalaupapa to perform and helped to change the public perception of the now curable disease.

Today, there are no active cases of Hansen’s disease in Kalaupapa or on Molokai. The few remaining residents (I think there are about 9 people) are elderly former disease patients and their descendant families. They are far outnumbered by those in the cemetery, where there are an estimated 2,000 unmarked graves in addition to those with headstones.

Kalaupapa village today. Part of the US National Parks.

Kalaupapa village today. Part of the US National Parks.

They are also outnumbered by the approximately 100 staff members, from doctors and nurses to National Forest personal, who also call Kalaupapa home.

At its prime, there were a total of four churches and eight bars. Today, the four churches are still there yet only one bar remains.

There’s a gas station that sells fuel for around five bucks per gallon, and each resident is entitled to seven gallons a week.

Many folks don’t realize you can visit Kalaupapa which is now a US National Park. Visitation is strictly limited, however, and unless you are invited by a resident, tours must be arranged through Damien Tours or the Hawaii Department of Health.

The view over your mule's ears as you descend the sea cliffs of Molokai.

The view over your mule’s ears as you descend the sea cliffs of Molokai.

For $199.00 per person you can take a mule ride down a narrow trail along those perilous sea cliffs to the Kalaupapa peninsula.

The trail is the only land access. There is a 1,786 foot drop along the 2.9 mile trail with 26 switchbacks.

Folk are left speechless by the beauty or terrified by the exposure on a near vertical hillside for the 90 minute trip.

There is a maximum of 18 mules on the trail per day so you need to plan in advance, way in advance. Age and weight restrictions apply.

If you prefer, you can arrange to hike down and back up the cliffs for about $69.00 per person.

It will help if you have a high level of cardiac fitness to do the hike. If you don’t, and if you hate heights, there is a scenic flight in from Molokai’s main airport.

All trips include a tour of the village which is like stepping into the 1960’s. Since only one barge arrives a year with supplies, much has stayed the same for a long time.

Hunting for pet food that has fallen under the display racks at Petco is max's idea of high adventure.

Hunting for pet food that has fallen under the display racks at Petco is Max’s idea of high adventure.

Max is afraid of heights. He says he will take a pass on an adventure to Kalaupapa, a unique piece of this island state.

Instead, the Malt prefers to forage at the local pet shop for the bits and pieces that a vertically challenged dog can find under the racks of dog food.

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Starting the New Year With Music

Fat Malt in Shorts

Max likes to watch the New Year’s shows in his briefs. We don’t know where he could have possibly learned that behavior.

One of our New Year’s traditions is watching the various music specials beamed live from Japan on the Nippon Golden Network.

As each year passes, the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) and I recognize fewer of the singers, everyone looks younger and I find myself yelling at the TV , in a geezerly manner, “get those darn kids off my lawn.”

The Japanese music acts seem to be getting stranger and stranger. Submitted for your consideration are a few of the top acts. In deference to your tender ears and even more tender sensibilities, I will not link any Youtube videos.

"KIs my ft 2 - what were we thinking when we named our group?"

“Kis My Ft 2 – what were we thinking when we named our group?”

Here we have the boy group Kis My Ft2. Yes, their name is indeed pronounced Kiss My Foot, Too.

Judging by their performance on Music Station I’d say they can kiss my royal…well, let’s not go there, I have a resolution to uphold.

Now meet the ever delightful Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Smile for the audience Kyary.

Smile for the audience Kyary. Very nice. Very appealing. Very scary.

She recently came to Honolulu for a concert at the Waikiki Shell. Nobody knew if she was real or some animatronic doll but she sold the place out and had a huge group of loyal fans fly in from Japan just for the show.

To be successful, Kyary, you have to dig deep.

To be successful, Kyary, you have to dig deep.

Here’s another shot of Kyary. She is either signing “I Love You” or picking her nose, I can’t tell for sure.

Large girl groups continue to be popular.

No, I don’t mean the girls are large. I mean that the groups have many members.

The most famous is AKB 48, a favorite for almost 10 years and a marketing masterpiece whose 48 young ladies are all under the age of 21.

Don’t mock them; they raked in nearly $150 million in sales last year and were Japan’s #2 highest grossing group. Actually they have four or five teams of AKB 48 each with its own “brand image.”

Cute young ladies being marketed to "prepubescent girls and older men".

48 cute young ladies under 21 being marketed to “prepubescent girls and older males”.

Their marketing material says the group is designed to appeal to prepubescent girls and older males who purchase the group’s merchandise. That just creeps me out.

Of course success breeds copycats. Other numerically significant girl groups include acts SKE 48, NMB 48, HKT 48, SNH 48 and JKT 48.

I kid you not and that’s just groups that have the number of members listed in their names; there are tons of other girl groups with dozens of performers in each group.

The samurai foxes of babymetal.

The samurai foxes of Babymetal.

How about Babymetal? Three adorable waifs who like to dress as marauding samurai foxes, among other things, and perform the Japanese version of heavy metal music which doesn’t quite seem right because they are obsessed with using complicated, repetitive hand motions designed to make the singers look “cute.”

In Japan’s fevered and crushingly competitive music scene it’s important to have a distinct look even if the look seems to have no relationship to your band’s name.

How do sing while wearing a wolf's head. I guess you simply howl.

How does one sing while wearing a wolf’s head? I guess you simply howl.

Witness the boys from Man With A Mission who parade onstage wearing wolf heads. No doubt crying to the Blue Corn Moon and asking the grinning bob cat why he grins.

For hip hop music, the holiday shows offer Funky Monkey Baby or Maximum the Hormone. Sadly, the group School Food Punishment broke up last year. We miss them much like we miss mouth cankers.

Oh well, I guess the Japan groups really are no stranger than those in other countries. A quick look at the not quite definitive website The Weirdest Bands in the World includes groups such as The Radioactice Chicken Heads.

How to make a buck in the music biz without distractions such as talent.

The Radioactive Chicken Heads. How to make a buck in the music biz without distractions such as talent.

Other unusual group names that delight and amuse are  Anklepants, Army of Gay Unicorns, Autopsy Report of Drowned Shrimp and my personal favorite, Rancid Penguin Molestation which specializes in a musical genre called “pornogrind” and whose marketing materials are too offensive to link to in this silly blog. Sigh.

Max has indicated he is starting a group called The Hungry Maltese who will play for food.

Or maybe that’s just his solo act.

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