Max Visits the Crater

Wait a minute. Did you just call me a dumpling?

Wait a minute. Did you just call me a dumpling?

Max has been face first in the food dish a bit too much of late.

We’ve started calling him the Dumpling Dog, or “Dumpling” for short.

Occasionally we mix it up and call him Gyoza or Bao, sometimes Empanada or Kreplach and sometimes Maultaschen after the large Schwabian dumplings that absolutely no one recognizes by name.

Anyway, Max the Endomorph needed some attention, a little PX-90 for Maltese, so we took him kicking and screaming for exercise by walking around Diamond Head Crater in the hope it would help generate a canine version of those Brazilian Buns of Steel that we see on late night infomercials.

View of Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach and from overhead showing the crater.

View of Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach and from overhead showing the crater.

As you know, Diamond Head is the most iconic of Oahu images, familiar to most everyone around the world. The volcanic tuff cone is only 767 feet high but occupies a commanding position on the eastern end of Waikiki Beach.

Entry to the trail up to the top.

Entry to the trail up to the top.

To Hawaiians the promontory is known as Lēʻahi, which loosely translates to Mount Tunafish Fin. It was a sacred venue and its surrounding areas were the sites for several heiau, or temples. Papa’ena’ena, one of the most significant, was the site of the sacrifices of both kings and criminals. It was perhaps erected by King Kahekili to celebrate his conquering of O’ahu in 1783.

In 1884, Diamond Head went from private, royal ownership to government property.

Under King Kalakaua, the Diamond Head crater and part of the surrounding lands were transferred from the estate of King Lunalilo to the Hawaiian government.

The reward for puffing up those 99 stairs and the circular staircase.

The reward for puffing up those 99 stairs and the circular staircase.

Diamond Head got its English name from 19th century British sailors who mistook worthless olivine (calcite) crystals on the adjacent beach for diamonds thereby proving that poxy scurvy-ridden sailors should not be your first choice as gemologists.

People who know about these things (often called “smart people”) estimate that Diamond Head is about 200,000 years old. It’s been inactive for 150,000 years suggesting that it is part Maltese. Geologists do not expect the volcano to erupt again which is good news for those of us living nearby.

In 1904 the US Government paid $3,300 for Diamond Head Crater which today would represent about $100,000. This area was developed into Fort Ruger, which was considered to be the eastern end of the defenses of Honolulu and the military bases in the area.

The new and improved trail makes it easy to access the promontory.

The new and improved trail makes it easy to access the promontory.

From 1904 until 1950, Diamond Head was closed to the public at large. During this period of exclusive occupation, significant construction occurred within the crater. Bunkers, communication rooms, storage tunnels and coastal artillery fortifications were built.

World War 2 bunker on top of Diamond Head.

World War 2 bunker on top of Diamond Head.

Battery Harlow on the north slope of the crater and Battery Birkhimer inside the crater were designed to fire to the south over the crater at ships at sea and some of the guns at Diamond Head had a 360 degree field of fire and the range to fire over the Koolau Mountains to the windward side of the island.

In addition to providing protection from sea based attacks, Fort Ruger was to defend Honolulu from ground based assaults from the eastern end of the island which explains the many bunkers and pillboxes along its length.

Some of the old bunkers and defense sites are accessible to visitors although 75% remain off limits due to safety and other concerns.

Today, Diamond Head is a United States Monument. While an FAA air traffic control center was in operation from 1963 to 2001, nowadays there is only a National Guard facility and Hawaii State Civil Defense in the crater.

Entry to the park inside Diamond Head is through one of several tunnels that pierce the wall of the crater rim.

The most popular attraction is the three-quarter mile hike that leads to the edge of the crater’s rim overlooking Honolulu. It’s an easy hike although those who have spent their vacation exercising under a drink with a small umbrella might find some portions to be a puffer.

The toughest slog is up the 99 steps through a tunnel followed by a climb on a narrow spiral staircase. The tunnel is now well lit – until a few years ago you had to bring your own flashlight. Access to the trail to the top is until about 4:30 daily. Sadly, night hikes are not allowed.

Poster art from the Sunshine Festival.

Poster art from the Sunshine Festival. Photo credit to Heritage Comics.com

My favorite crater memories are from early Seventies when there transpired the Diamond Head Crater Festival, better known as the Sunshine Festivals.

The first was held on Jan. 1, 1970, with an attendance of about 12,000.

It was a celebration of peace, love, Hippiedom, dope, music, more dope and did I mention the dope?

Big Brother and the Holding Company, along with local act Cecilio and Kapono headlined the show which started at sunrise. The morning air had a purple haze if you know what I mean and I think you do. But I digress.

Full house at the Crater. That smoke is suspicious.

Full house at the Crater. That smoke is suspicious.

In later years, Carlos Santana jammed at the Crater, Buddy Miles got his blues on and others like Mackey Feary, War and The Little River Band all showed up to party. Man, do I feel old.

Each year the crowd grew and eventually reached about 75,000 as the event grew more commercial, and in 1979 a state-appointed citizen’s task force asked the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to ban the festivals. Bummer, man. Bunch of fussy old farts that couldn’t even boogaloo.

Less recognized was the 1975 TV program “The Diamond Head Game”. As you will no doubt not remember, the game was set at Diamond Head and the host was Bob Eubanks, star of Dating Game and other socially important programs.

Donald Duck and the Money Volcano. Cultural appropriation at its nadir.

Donald Duck and the Money Volcano. Cultural appropriation at its nadir.

Final contestants were given the great, good opportunity of stepping into a “Money Volcano” to try their hand at catching flying bills of real money in different denominations. Enough to make you want to Bogart that joint.

It was fun to visit Diamond Head although Max did not much care about the history and good times at the Crater. His goal was to stay in the shade and avoid exertion. He seems quite comfortable with the idea of being a Pierogi.

I'm tired, Dad. Can you bring me a stuffed pastry perhaps?

I’m tired, Dad. Can you bring me a stuffed pastry perhaps?

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Max Floats His Boat

“I’m not coming out until you promise not to float me.”

Since 1999, an esoteric Buddhist denomination called Shinnyo-en has sponsored a “Lantern Floating” ceremony on Memorial Day to create a moment of reflection and collective compassion and remember those who have passed.

The name “Shinnyo-en” means “a borderless garden of the unchanging and real nature of things,” and its principal doctrine encourages everyone to develop the ability to act with unwavering loving kindness and compassion. That’s a pretty good thing, methinks.

Lantern close upThe original Lantern Floating was a modest affair, held in a lagoon out near Honolulu Airport but grew in popularity and since 2002 it has been held annually at Ala Moana Beach Park, the major regional park adjacent to Waikiki.

How popular is it? About 40,000 people attend the ceremony. Folks stake out their positions on the lawn areas 24 hours in advance and guard their position zealously. Encroach on someone’s territory and the global message of peace can end with a punch to the nose. People are funny that way. But I digress.

These are the big lanterns that contain the global wishes for world peace, health and other good things.

These are the big lanterns that contain the global wishes for world peace, health and other good things.

Over 6,000 lanterns are launched at sunset.

The lanterns are like little boats. Each has a wood and rice paper container on top and the paper provides space for folks to write their individual messages to their loved ones.

The messages are poignant and personal.

Lost lives, lost loves, hopes and dreams for a better future – the messages range from small, heartfelt pleas and stories to giant themes like world peace.

The Lantern Floating ceremony is quite ritualized. It starts with the haunting sounding of the , the Hawaiian conch shell, blown as a call to come together. For some women (and we won’t mention names,) it serves as the last call to visit the ladies’ room.

That's me in the middle. The AJF went to the rest room.

That’s me in the middle. The AJF went to the rest room.

Giant Japanese taiko drums start booming and a Hawaiian chant or “oli” tells participants to ready their hearts for what is to follow. Hula precedes the entry of the lanterns. All this activity takes place on huge stages set up a week or more in advance.

The first lanterns to arrive are big ones that have messages with big themes of peace for victims of war, water-related accidents, natural and man-made disasters, famine and disease.

Her Holiness Shinso Ito, leader of Shinnyo-en in Hawaii.

Her Holiness Shinso Ito, leader of Shinnyo-en in Hawaii.

These lanterns are blessed by Her Holiness Shinso Ito, the leader of Shinnyo-en and, after food offerings and prayer, the candles inside the lanterns are lit and the lanterns are gently launched to float out to sea on the departing tide.

Buddhist chants and a showering of flower petals accompany the launching, then Shinso Ito rings a small bell, signifying it is time to launch the other lanterns.

It’s a silent and very somber moment as people walk to the waters’ edge, bend down and place their personal lantern into the sea.

There is not a dry eye in the park.

Music plays, hula is performed, chants – both Buddhist and Hawaiian – ring out over the crowd as it moves in a slow and dignified push toward the launching beach.

The main stage at Ala Moana Beach park.

The main stage at Ala Moana Beach park.

Soon all 6,000 lanterns twinkle on the gentle inner reef area and then drift offshore.

A small team of assistants ride in boats to keep the lanterns on their path.

Later, they collect the lanterns along the reef and volunteers refurbish them for next year’s ceremony.

The Lantern Floating ceremony is a unique Hawaii affair that is not truly Japanese and not really Hawaiian. It is also an odd but effective mix of the secular and spiritual.

For example, the AJF snorts about the timing of the ceremony and points out that toro nagashi (lantern floating) exists in Japan but occurs during the obon season when the spirits of the dead are said to return to Earth, roughly in August. Many of the rituals associated with the ceremony have little cultural authenticity but are highly effective at emotional manipulation.

At dusk, the sight of 6,000 lanterns is captivating.

At dusk, the sight of 6,000 lanterns is captivating.

I have to point out that neither of us is religious and we’re only marginally spiritual, although I do adore a dark beer.

Nonetheless, while we both recognize the sophisticated marketing and presentation that makes this ceremony so successful, we also recognize that there is something deeper and more meaningful going on there. Without question, the ceremony provides people with a means to express emotions that might otherwise have no outlet.

Max, by the way is Dog-agnostic, (which may be a dyslexia issue.)

For some, Lantern Floating is a way to remember a deceased loved one; for others, a way to send hopes and wishes into the cosmos. Some claim it provides closure for difficult stages of life or enables that final good-bye.

A lantern leaves the shore. Photo credit to Star Bulletin.

A lantern leaves the shore. Photo credit to Star Bulletin.

At the very least, it is a fantastically beautiful affair with the thousands of small flames covering the ocean and the flood of sincere, deeply personal emotions is tangible across the beach park.

For the one night, global compassion and caring seems possible, a better world seems within reach.

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Max Gets His Art On

All noble and famous folk but nowhere to add a Malt.

All noble and famous folk but nowhere to add a Malt.

Did you ever stop and consider that public art would be much improved by the addition of a Maltese dog?

Me neither.

But that didn’t stop us from running around the financial and government districts and blending the small white dog into some of our favorite sculptures.

Ever since

Ever since the “Aloha from Hawaii” concert in 1973 (I was there!) we have had a statewide obsession with The King.

We eschewed the more common statues in search of lesser known pieces of art.

No, I am not referring to the full size depiction of Elvis at our main arena, Blaisdell Center. I’m not referring to the usual collection of noble personages whose visages have been preserved around town.

We decided we would actually insert Mr. Max into the scene rather than just taking static photos of him alongside the art.

Max says,

Max says, “Nice kids but a little stiff.”

With Mom & dad 2

Max says, “You’ll pay for this.”

So we first have him at the Department of Transportation building leading a family into the future.The kids relied on his keen sense of direction. As for the parents, they don’t mind him, uh, hanging around.

On Bishop Street, the Wall Street of Honolulu, is a much beloved statue of a guy in aloha wear sitting at the bus stop reading the paper while three little mice perch on his left shoulder.

Max was ready to settle in and wait for the next bus out of town.

Max was ready to settle in and wait for the next bus out of town.

Titled “What’s Next?”, it’s a very realistic scene. Even years after installation, new bus drivers stop, thinking he is a fare, then close the doors in irritation when they realize he’s a statue. He has a cult following and passers-by put food, lei, newspapers, pennies and cigarettes on or around him.

Note the three mice on his left shoulder and the big rat standing behind wearing sunglasses.

Note the three mice on his left shoulder and the big, bearded  rat standing behind and wearing sunglasses.

As the now defunct Honolulu Advertiser noted in 2002: embedded in his aloha shirt are actual headlines from the daily papers such as “Moon Men Warmest Welcome from Hawaii,” “Rapid Transit Streetcar Track in Kapiolani Park,” “First Airplane Ride Flight in Hawaii,” “Hokulea Sails to Tahiti.”

“Guess what I left behind on this guy’s paper, Dad?”

All are rendered from the printing plates of the millennium issues of local newspapers. Sculptor Jodi Endicott pressed the plates, or rubber stamps made from the plates, into the concrete or onto pieces of clay that were set into the concrete. One headline, reading “U.H. Lab Clones Mice in Major Scientific Step,” is impressed beside the aforementioned brass mice resting on the man’s shoulder.

Max experiencing the finer points of equine digestion.

Max experiencing the finer points of equine digestion.

Across the street, in front of the First Hawaiian Bank Tower (the tallest building in the state) are a couple of horses who apparently succeeded all too well at Jenny Craig. The emaciated equine looked so sad that we fed him a Maltese. “In the belly of the beast” took on a whole new meaning. The Pupsicle was not amused.

Exploring the grounds at the Hawaii State Library.

Exploring the grounds at the Hawaii State Library.

A little further along, we stopped by the Hawaii State Library, a lovely building on spacious grounds dominated by massive monkeypod trees. While Max pondered if the big tress were suitable as a leg-lifting location, we captured him in a two-piece modern art sculpture entitled Parents and a Young Woman.

“Parent and a Young Woman”, Yeah, right. How about “Hole in Statue With Maltese Dog Stuck Inside”?

Max and I examined this piece of work from several angles and from inside out and have determined it is beyond our limited comprehension. “Large Pieces Of Bronze With A Hole In The Middle” would have been my title.

Let freedom ring. Let the wild Malt sing. Let today be known as a day of reckoning.

Let freedom ring. Let the wild Malt sing. Let today be known as a day of reckoning.

By now the Flufferpup was getting antsy so we stopped for a final shot of him sitting under the Liberty Bell. Well, the Aloha Bell, our version of the famous Philadelphia landmark.

In compensation for what he considered dog abuse, we went to Petco where we promised him a treat, but only if he could balance it on his nose.

Now that’s what I call art.

The Pupperoni thinks this balancing trick is getting out of hand.

The Pupperoni thinks this balancing trick is getting out of hand.

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Max Visits The End Of The Road

Are you trying to get rid of me?

Are you trying to get rid of me?

The Malt was frankly suspicious when informed that today’s jaunt would take him to the end of the road.

For a dog who soaks up luxury and leisure pursuits, that sounded a bit too challenging to Max.

But after a few rounds of hold-the-cookie-on-your-nose, the wee Furbeast was ready for some exploration of his island home.

Today’s end of the road destination was Mokulēʻia.

Mokulēʻia means “isle of abundance.” It’s a small, rural town located on the western side of Oahu.

There are probably 2,500 people living there; it’s about as remote as one gets on Oahu. It’s where the road ends, literally, as one tries to circumnavigate Oahu counter-clockwise.

There was once a railroad around this far western point of Oahu and the dirt road used to go all around this part of the island, too.

I drove it in a beat up 1949 Chevy as recently as the late 1960s (OK, that’s not very recent) but erosion caused the path to slide into the ocean.

One can still ride bikes or hike around the coast but no vehicles are allowed.

Taunting the Malt with the old cookie on the nose trick.

Taunting the Malt with the old cookie on the nose trick.

Due to its remote tropical setting, that rather strange television series “LOST” filmed several scenes on the beaches of Mokulēʻia.

Fans will recall scenes of the beached fuselage from the fictional Oceanic Airlines flight 815.

The prop airplane drew a lot of attention as it sat on the beach for months because the crash appeared so authentic.

The television series Hawaii Five-0 also uses this area in various episodes where a wild coast is required.

The Mokulēʻia beaches are still a bit of an Oahu local secret.

The folks who come out here are self-contained. They don’t seek or want food stands or souvenir stores.

They bring tents and wind shelters, giant coolers and barbecues ranging from little hibachi to full scale Weber gas grills that they carry off the back of their pick up trucks.

A local

A local “secret.” Well, not really but it’s a great place to avoid crowds.

It’s a mix of local folk and military folk with a smattering of tourists and all intermingle, generally with great success and mellow moods.

Mokulēʻia is also known as home of the Dillingham Airfield, formerly Air Force Base, which is a joint military/civilian airport currently used for glider riders and skydiving. Its military use is as a training location for night vision devices.

The airfield’s history goes back to the 1920s when a communications station called Camp Kawaihapai was established. At that time there was a railroad along the southern and western ends of Oahu and it was used to transport mobile coast artillery to the site.

Aerial of Dillingham Airfield.

Aerial of Dillingham Airfield.

By 1941, the Army leased additional land and established Mokulēʻia Airstrip with Curtiss P-40 fighters deployed there when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, the runway was paved and extended to 9,000 feet long. By the end of World War II, Mokulēʻia Airfield could handle B-29 Superfortress bombers and was the longest air strip on the island.

Parachute jumping over Dillingham. Not for me. No, thank you. Photo credit: Honolulu Magazine

Parachute jumping over Dillingham. Not for me. No, thank you. Photo credit: Honolulu Magazine

In 1948, the airfield was inactivated and renamed Dillingham Air Force Base. Nike missiles were installed in the 1950s, one of four sites located on the island.

The Nike-Hercules guided missile was a nuclear-capable weapon but was obsolete by 1970.

In 1962, the State of Hawaii leased Dillingham for general aviation use. In the 1970s the base was transferred from the Air Force back to the Army.

The state signed new leases with the Army in 1974 and 1983. In the 1980s, hangars, a control tower, and a fire station were built.

Just a dog and his beach, walking in the sunshine. The dog, not the beach.

Just a dog and his beach, walking in the sunshine. The dog, not the beach.

Adjacent to the airfield is the Mokulēʻia Forest Reserve.

The Reserve is home to the Mokulēʻia Trail, a 10 mile trail that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult.

The trail is primarily used for hiking, mountain biking and road biking and is accessible year-round.

Dogs are also able to use this trail although certain porky Maltese dogs have been known to faint at the idea of a long outdoor hike.

One mile beyond the airfield is the entrance to Kaʻena Point, the westernmost tip of land on the island of Oahu. Spelling and pronunciation count with this name.

His feet got too hot.

His feet got too hot.

Kaʻena with the ‘okina (the little backward apostrophe) can mean “the heat” or “the hottest part of the flame” and refers to those things that are glowing, raging, enraged.

On the other hand, kaena without the ‘okina means to brag or boast, to be conceited or proud. If you have hiked Kaʻena you will appreciate the little backwards apostrophe – Kaʻena can indeed be hot as the gates of Hades and you will not be doing much boasting.

Though long uninhabited, Kaʻena was once an important community for fishing, feather-collecting and salt-making.

Nowadays, Kaʻena is a State Park and a nature preserve and a very significant cultural location.

The path to the jumping off spot where souls leave this world to enter a new existence.

The path to the jumping off spot where souls leave this world to enter a new existence.

It represents to Hawaiians the place where the souls of the dead leap off to join their ancestors in the next realm of their existence.

There are several such leaping off spots on the Hawaiian Islands and each is a special place full of stories and legends and, frankly, creepy as hell as night.

Kaʻena is also a living example of native Hawaiian ecology.

The area is abundant with native coastal plants and a total of 11 plants found at Kaʻena are on the Federal endangered species lists.

The reserve is a haven for the rare Hawaiian monk seal, and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) can often be found resting along the coastline.

Aerial of Ka'ena Point. Photo by go-hawaii.com

Aerial of Ka’ena Point. Photo by go-hawaii.com

In the deep waters, just off the point, spinner dolphins play and hunt for food. During winter and spring months, humpback whales are a familiar sight offshore.

Layson

The Layson Albatross. Though found from Japan to Alaska and across the Northern Pacific, 99.7% of all nesting sites are in Hawaii.

Kaʻena is also home to birds such as the Laysan albatross and wedge-tailer shearwater and of course there is an abundance of fish of indescribable color and variety. For those seeking a little turf with their surf, there are plenty of mongooses and feral chickens darting across the roads, too.

After wandering around the road’s end, we watched the gliders for awhile but alas there were no parachute jumpers to be seen. So after some beach exploration the AJF announced she would like to stop at Kualoa Ranch for a bite, so we bundled into the car and headed 50 miles east where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch which, of course, included feeding Max his fair share of grass-fed local burger.

And then came bath time.

I'm wet, angry, betrayed. But the burger was good.

I’m wet, angry, betrayed. But the burger was good.

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My $1,000 Toilet Seat

It looks so innocent for something that just (cough) flushed a grand out of my wallet.

It looks so innocent for something that just (cough) flushed a grand out of my wallet.

UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!

You guys giggled about my purchase of this noble throne but the headline of our local paper today proclaims:

Hyatt Waikiki’s $100M renovation includes Japanese toilets

The story (behind a paywall) goes on to tout the many benefits and attractions of the super flusher.

So neener, neener, neener…I was just ahead of my time.

——————————————-

This whole thing began because the Alpha Japanese Female (AJF) believes that the Western world is inhabited by barbarians who do not appreciate the finer points of excretion. You see, in Japan, the majority of households have a “Washlette,” a technologically advanced magic toilet seat. Perhaps you’ve seen or experienced a Japanese wonder toilet seat. No doubt you’ve heard of them. They have remote control devices that offer more water features than the fountains at the Bellagio, heated seats, bidet functions and built-in deodorizer fans. Some models play whooshing white noise in an effort to obscure other, more ebullient sounds and some boast seats that respectfully rise as you approach them. Night lights, too.

Toto means very expensive toilet seat in Japanese.

Toto means very expensive toilet seat in Japanese.

The Washlette was invented in 1982 by Japanese company, Toto. Today, more than 70 percent of Japanese homes now feature a toilet seat with enhanced capabilities. In contrast, only 30 percent have a dishwasher. That statistic clearly indicates the priority Japanese have about washing things, but I digress. Not so in ‘Murika where we rate our toilet seats on functionality and weight bearing capacity, as opposed to luxury. Even in Hawaii with our high Asian population, my very informal survey, conducted with the utmost discretion, indicates most of our toilets cannot perform tricks. This is kind of odd. We spend so much cash on granite counters, stainless steel refrigerators and hardwood floors but so little on a little basic ass comfort. As the AJF points out, either we are barbarians or maybe we are just ignorant of the benefits a Toto can provide. So let me tell you about my $1,000 toilet seat.

Always polite, the Japanese models use the toilet fully dressed. The details are left to your imagination.

Always polite, the Japanese models use the toilet fully dressed. The details are left to your imagination.

Having finally acceded to the AJF’s demands to upgrade our commode status, we visited our local Washlette showroom and browsed the various models, an experience that inevitably led to bad jokes, immature behavior and embarrassing questions. For example, I referred to the toilet seats as “Japanese picture frames” which got me a swift whack across the back of my head. The salesman was a pro and simply smiled politely at our nonsense. We quickly concluded that if digital defecation was the objective, so to speak, we wanted the top-of-the-line model. $1,021.00 plus tax. Being a canny shopper with Amazon Prime I was able to bag the toilet seat for $780.00 including free delivery. But…it’s not that simple. One needs to have a special electrical outlet in proximity to the throne which set us back another $300.00. After that, I was comfy doing the rest of the installation myself and it was a snap. So what does a grand worth of Japanese picture frame get you? First of all, we skipped the automatic lid lifting feature. We quickly realized that there were two scenarios involving the small white dog. The first was that he would be terrified of the automatic device; the second was that he would think it was entertaining. Neither option appealed. Fortunately Max is too short to be a bowl drinker, if you know what  mean and I think you do. As you approach the toilet, the Washlette turns on a bowl light and sprays the inside of the toilet with a preparatory mist of electrolyzed water. This magic elf water is said to keep the bowl cleaner – the manual euphemistically says it repels “dirt.”

More controls than the Starship Enterprise.

More controls than the Starship Enterprise.

OK, we’re going to get graphic about the Washlette’s more, uh, intimate functions. The timid and those with weak stomachs are advised to turn back now. Did I mention that the seat is heated? Oh yeah, baby, and your posterior meat never realized how good that feels until you’ve given it a try. Smush your butt ham on to that elongated oval and settle in. Using the Washlette’s remote, you can adjust the seat’s temperature up or down until your haunches are happy. When the time comes, there’s the bidet function, the killer app of Toto’s masterpiece. The “money shot.” This is why one goes “top of the line.” For reasons unknown, most Americans seem to be intimidated, perhaps fearful, of a “bidet.” Why is that, do you suppose? Is it the French name? Maybe it’s that Puritan ethic that drives us to eschew a warm, moist butt-cleaning and stick with dry paper that often has the texture of tree bark. Do we feel a need to punish ourselves for the nasty act? Maybe we think that paying attention to this bodily function is somehow deviant or a waste of time better spent on other bodily parts like nose hair?

Metaphorical description of the bidet function on the

Metaphorical description of the bidet function on the “high” setting.

Unlike our brethren in Europe and Asia, ‘Murikans won’t even accept moist towelettes in lieu of the dry stuff. A market survey showed that moist wipes are only 3 percent of U.S. toilet paper sales and, of households that do buy moist toilet paper, 54 percent hide it out of sight in a bathroom cabinet. This makes no sense, particularly when no one would forego baby wipes and treat their newborn to dry wad. Go figure. But, back to the bidet. It’s awesome. Hands free, with a steady stream. A pressure washer for your undercarriage. There are two positions: “front” and “rear” ( I think the latter designation is a Toto pun but can’t prove it.) The front position uses an icon of a lady perched on the seat while the rear features a male icon. Do I need to spell this out any further? I thought not. You may augment the liquid cleansing process with dry paper if you wish, in whichever sequence you desire. Oh yeah, you can also use the remote to control the pressure of the flow and the water temperature. You want a gentle spring shower, no problem. A master blaster gushing an outpour like a Yellowstone geyser, you got it. There are buttons to modify the oscillating or pulsing characteristics and even the position where the spray makes its lunar landing on your moon. The remote allows two people to program their preferred settings so a single touch activates the perfect cleaning cycle. A bull’s-eye every time.

Like a warm hug from Tokyo.

Like a warm hug from Tokyo.

When clean, the Toto will treat the user to its “drying cycle” which features an airflow adjustable from summer breeze to Class 5 Typhoon and cool zephyr to roast-your-buns in temperature. As you leave, the toilet whispers “sayonara.” Nah…I made that last part up. Being a polite blogger I will spare you my more personal experiences and observations except to say I cannot now conceive of life without my $1,000 toilet seat. It may be as close as I will ever come to life among the 1%ers. More importantly, the adage “Happy wife, happy life” has again been validated. Join movement

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The Ultimate Meat Meld

It’s official. Hormel Foods will release a new version of Spam exclusively in Hawaii.

It's here! The taste treat we've all been waiting for. Combining 2, yes 2, highly processed porcine leftovers in one juicylicious can.

It’s here! The taste treat we’ve all been waiting for. Combining 2, yes 2, highly processed porcine leftovers in one juicylicious can.

Yes, we’re talking a Portuguese Sausage-flavored Spam that unites two of the islands’ favorite meat products in one can with an expiration date measured in centuries.

Only in Hawaii. Well, that makes sense since Hawaii consumes more Spam per capita than any other state.

How much? Well, roughly 5 million pounds a year which is the equivalent of 6 cans for every man, woman and child in Hawaii.

Oh sure, there is that dark secret that both Guam (16 cans per person per year!) and American Samoa have us beat in per capita consumption.

But neither is a U.S. state so we ignore those statistics, scream “neener, neener, neener” and declare proudly, “We’re #1!, we’re #1.”

Spam is available at McDonalds, Burger King and Jack in the Box and at just about every restaurant from greasy chopstick dive to fine dining establishment. It gets the gourmet treatment by foodies: truffled Spam, Sriracha-sauced, with jalapeno quesadillas and even sandwiched in a glazed donut.

The annual Waikiki Spam Jam is a big deal. Thouisands turn out. The locals go

The annual Waikiki Spam Jam is a big deal. Thousands turn out. The locals go “yum” and chow down on delicacies like fried rice with Spam. Most visitors consume anti-emetic products, shake their heads and cry, “How could you?”

We have street fairs dedicated to Spam; in fact the annual Waikiki Spam Jam occurs on May 2nd.

We sell Spam tee shirts, accessories and home products and swag of all designs.

We have teriyaki Spam and we list Spam as a food staple for emergency preparation kits along with rice and bottled water.

Of the 13 Spam varieties sold in Hawaii, the top sellers generally are the Classic, Lite and Less Sodium varieties.

There is so much one can do with Spam. Presentation is key. Who wouldn't love to wake up to some fried eggs and Spam-Man?

There is so much one can do with Spam. Presentation is key. Who wouldn’t love to wake up to some fried eggs and Spam-Man? Love the thong.

This is primarily because they are sold in multipacks at membership stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club.

On the other hand, most grocery retailers sell cans, especially the flavored ones, individually. But the company doesn’t reveal the rankings of flavored Spam products.

Got to keep that trade secret stuff secret, dontcha know.

Get some Spam today. Your family will thank you for it. Father, usually a grump, will be lots more fun.

Spam Ad

If you need some Portuguese Sausage-flavored Spam, let me know and I’ll send you a can or two, or four hundred.

Posted in Max's Stories, Random Stuff | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Caption This

Take me to the park.

Take me to the park.

Max and his Mom went to the park yesterday and I happened to snap the pic shown below.

I sent it to the kids and asked for their captions. The responses ranged from “Short Conga Line” to some truly rude comments that the AJF is certain to remember on birthdays and at Christmas.

I still have not figured out what is going on between these two. Feel free to submit your own caption. The winner will get imaginary internet bonus points.

I've given up trying to understand what is transpiring.

I’ve given up trying to understand what is transpiring.

Apparently they worked out their communication issues and the dog was given his instructions.

It's far easier to communicate when facing each other.

It’s far easier to communicate when facing each other.

Sorry for the drive-by post! Just wanted to say “hi.” Max will be making a new submission very soon. Promise.

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Max Checks Out The K-Videos

Max the Furbeast decided he wanted to stop by the Pagoda Hotel and see if a fish food treat might be cadged from Uncle Fish.

Along the way we passed our favorite Korean video shop and paused to see what new releases were available.

Doesn't this poster just radiate love? Especially the vampire-like dude going after the young girl's wrist.

Doesn’t this poster just radiate love? Especially the vampire-like dude going after the young girl’s wrist.

The Discovery of Love looked promising. Clearly these young people were enthralled with the notion of romance. It shows in their beatific expressions. Ah, young love, so sweet and yet so hard on the ears.

Blade Man, on the other hand, looked as if he needed more instructions in the careful use of his blades. Perhaps Bandage Man would have been a better title.

Somebody needs to tell Blade Man that he needs some career counseling.

Somebody needs to tell Blade Man that he needs some career counseling.

No worries. Uncle Fish was finally located and some tasty fish protein was scored by the little white dog.

Max can track down Uncle Fish even in the the maintenance areas of the Pagoda Hotel.

Max can track down Uncle Fish even in the the maintenance areas of the Pagoda Hotel.

Posted in Max's Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

If dogs could read or text

maxwellthedog:

Couldn’t resist a re-blog…just to make you smile.

Originally posted on Tailbook:

offtheleashreadingmaterial

Off the Leash on Facebook. Wait. There’s more.

dailyfat is awesomenessfleatlessgoing outimportant mail from bankknock knockpostman and dogdog memorystick

View original

Posted in Max's Stories | 10 Comments

Bombing Lava

Photo: Mauna Loa looms above the city of Hilo and Hilo Bay. This view is from Mokuola, commonly called Coconut Island. Mokuola and the rock in bottom of photograph formed from a lava flow erupted by Mauna Loa about 1,400 years ago. A flow from Mauna Loa entered what is now Hilo in 1881, and another neared the city in 1984. (S.R. Brantley, USGS)

Photo: Mauna Loa looms above the city of Hilo and Hilo Bay. This view is from Mokuola, commonly called Coconut Island. Mokuola and the rock in bottom of photograph formed from a lava flow erupted by Mauna Loa about 1,400 years ago. A flow from Mauna Loa entered what is now Hilo in 1881, and another neared the city in 1984. (S.R. Brantley, USGS)

The city of Hilo on Hawaii’s Big Island sits in the shadow of the world’s largest shield volcano, Mauna Loa.

There are many tales about Mauna Loa’s eruptions and the dangers those lava flows posed to the pretty little city by the bay that dates back to about 1100 AD.

This is one of the stranger stories: the time when the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) bombed the volcano to stop a threatening magma flow before it could reach Hilo.

Our story begins with the eruption of Mauna Loa that started on November 21, 1935. It came as no surprise to those working at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Like most Hawaiian eruptions, it was preceded by two flurries of earthquakes months prior to the outburst of lava. Each flurry tracked the upward migration of lava within the volcano. The largest recorded earthquake was so strong it was felt on Oahu. The actual eruption began at 6:20 PM with 300’ curtains of molten rock fountaining on the northeast side of the volcano’s caldera.

News photo of the lava bombing.

News photo of the lava bombing. (USGS photo.)

By December 8, the vent began producing the smooth, gloopy form of lava called pahoehoe. Following a northerly heading, the pahoehoe flows had ponded in the low area between Mauna Loa and the giant dormant shield volcano Mauna Kea at which point it turned to follow the natural drainage toward Hilo.

On December 26, the flow was moving about a mile per day and Hawaii’s leading volcanologist, Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, Director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, concluded that the threat to Hilo was limited.

Nearly a month later, however, the situation dramatically changed when ponded lava, located less than 20 miles from Hilo, broke through the natural levees of stone and began a rapid flow directly toward the city.

Jagger, neither a Meister nor Mick, believed something had to be done or the lava flow would cut off Hilo’s water supply and possibly burn the city. Seeking a solution to nature’s wrath, he had been experimenting with using TNT hauled by mules up the side of the volcano to dynamite lava tubes and divert the flows. Problem was, he was running out of time and the mules were not getting any faster. Dr. Jaggar estimated that the lava flow would wipe out Hilo on January 9, 1936, unless it could somehow be stopped.

Practice bomb drop from "Keystone" bombers, the last of the Army Air Corp biplane bombers.

Practice bomb drop from “Keystone” bombers, the last of the Army Air Corp biplane bombers. (USAAC photo.)

Another volcanologist, Guido Giacometti, suggested using US Army Air Corps bombers to deliver precision explosions more rapidly.

The plan made perfect sense in a “here, hold my beer for a second” Guido-sort of way.

I mean, dropping bombs on an active volcano – what could go wrong?

In any case, as time was of the essence, a call was placed to the 23rd Bomb Squadron, US Army Air Corps in Hawaii where the operational planning was tasked to a Lt. Colonel George S. Patton, who would go on to WWII fame.

It was a gorgeous Hawaii day on December 27, 1935 when the first of two flights of five bombers took off to bomb the volcano. Each plane carried two 300 pound practice bombs and two live bombs with 355 pounds of TNT; in other words, twenty bombs for a total of 7,100 pounds of dynamite. Picky chemists and pedants will note that TNT and dynamite are not exactly the same things but I digress.

The 23rd Bomb Squadron patch showing the bombs dropping into a volcano. Victory was declared.

The 23rd Bomb Squadron patch showing the bombs dropping into a volcano. Victory was declared.

The USAAC’s “Keystone” bombers themselves were a pretty rag tag group of outdated, obsolete airplanes that the USAAC hoped to replace.

The B3-A was a twin-engine biplane bomber, among the last biplanes used by the United States Army. Each 48 foot-long airplane was operated by a crew of five and had a less than dazzling cruising speed of 98 miles per hour with a service ceiling lower than the 13,679-foot summit of Mauna Loa.

The U.S. Army planes dropped bombs, targeting the lava channels and tubes just below the vents at 8,600 ft hoping to divert the flow near its source. The results of the bombing were immediately declared a success by the good Doctor Jaggar. In the resulting news reels, the USAAC was credited with saving Hilo and its waterworks. To this date, the 23rd Bomb Squadron still officially takes credit for saving Hilo from destruction by lava.

Doctor Jaggar who claimed his plans saved Hilo in 1935 by arranging the bombing of a lava flow.

Doctor Jaggar who claimed his plans saved Hilo in 1935 by arranging the bombing of a lava flow.

Jagger wrote that “the violent release of lava, of gas and of hydrostatic pressures at the source robbed the lower flow of its substance, and of its heat.”

Indeed, the lava stopped flowing on January 2, 1936.

However, the efficacies of the lava bombing and the science behind the idea have been disputed ever since the 1930s.

The modern scientific conclusion is that Dr. Jaggar’s assessment was vastly overstated and the lava flow stopped entirely by coincidence.

In effect, the small Mk I bombs were a pointless and futile effort.

Just five months later, in a bizarre twist, the Mauna Loa volcano again erupted, once again threatening Hilo. Once again, US Army aviation assets were called in for the job, this time using more modern B18s. Their bombs proved equally ineffective; in other words, a thorough waste of otherwise good munitions in the view of later scientists who have studied the matters closely. That wasn’t the end of the “bomb the volcano” trend, however, and bombs were similarly used to “thwart” another Hilo-bound Mauna Loa flow in 1942. Mauna Loa can be such a tease.

So, could one successfully use bombs to divert lava flows? The question remains alive today and was floated in discussions relating to the current lava flows from Kilauea Carter than have threatened Pahoa as recently as this year.

The answer is not completely clear. In the late 1970s, a volcanologist from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recruited the military to drop thirty-six bombs on historical Mauna Loa flows along the northern part of the mountain, within an Army training area. Doctor Lockwood assumed the strength of the hardened old flows was comparable to active flows, which often develop a solidified exterior mid-eruption.

Look at tiny plane. Now, look at world's largest shield volcano. It wasn't a fair fight but Madame Pele has a sense of humor and stopped the flow.

Look at tiny plane. Now, look at world’s largest shield volcano. It wasn’t a fair fight but Madame Pele has a sense of humor and stopped the flow.

The result of the experiment was awesome demolition, where bombing pockmarked flows with mini craters.

The largest craters formed in areas where the rock was less dense.

It was proof enough that bombing could work using the far more powerful bombs available.

In theory lava bombing might work but frankly today’s residents of Hawaii would never stand for a bombing of what Madame Pele has created. “Let the lava flow” is the only acceptable mantra today.

Final note: to watch a brief newsreel of the actual 1935 lava bombing, please click on this link. I could not afford the fees to embed the nifty video but you can see it at the link for free.

Obligatory dog photo. Max cares little about the topic.

Obligatory dog photo. Max cares little about this topic.

Posted in Max's Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments