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Monday, March 7, 2016

More about UHH

 Maybe the most wonderful thing about the UHH campus is the landscaping. Where else can you walk to class among orchids?  All these photos were taken on campus.

Fruit trees including papaya and coconut

Amazing, huge, very old trees.

A small botanical garden with specimens from SE Asia, South America, and Australia

Habitat for feral animals including mongoose and chickens


This is one of the security gates

And a message on the path


Sunday, February 21, 2016

University of Hawaii - Hilo

This is where I work

According to the US News & World Report college rankings, UHH has the highest ethnic diversity of all the institutions in its survey. They say the "index measures the probability that any two people chosen at random from a given school are of different races or ethnic groups." UHH is proud of this statistic (.78) and the university community feels that it provides a vibrant and enriched campus.

That ranking does not even include the more than 200 international students, who come from 37 countries. More than half of those students are from Oceania (with only 6 from Australia and New Zealand).  UHH offers reduced tuition to students from eligible Pacific Island places which do not have their own public institutions granting baccalaureate degrees. These currently include the following: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Futuna, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Belau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Soloman Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis. (I had to get out the map.)

In celebration of this wonderfully complex community, "International Days" are held annually and culminate in two nights of performances.  This year's performances were from: Japan, Okinawa, Philippines, and Burma, Samoa, Kiribati, Palau, and the Marshall Islands; Pohnpei, Yap, Chuuk, and Kosrae (Federated States of Micronesia); France, Ireland, Russia, Greece, Serbia, and one of the MCs is from Peru.

It was pretty amazing. Here are some photos I took.


Kosrae Women

Kosrae Men






Marshall Islands

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


The places to play in the water on the windward side of the island, where Hilo is, are rocky and it is quite rainy. But there are several Ocean Parks along Hilo Bay, and some even have a little beach area. So far my favorite places to swim are Richardson' Ocean Park and Coconut Island.
Here are some photos of places nearby.

This is a lovely place if the tide is high. Otherwise it's too rocky. I saw a Honu turtle here the day I took these photos.

Coconut Island
This is a tiny Island connected to Hilo by a footbridge.  There is a  small sandy beach area where I usually see kids and families. Swimming from there to the rocks near the parking lot is about equivalent to a lap in the pool.  There are some fish, but not as many as other places. The advantages are that it is close and easy to get to and entrance into the water is easy.

The footbridge across the water to the little island. The beach is just to the left.

Kids seem to love jumping off this tower, all the remains of an older footbridge that was destroyed by a tsunami.

Richardson's Ocean Park
When surf is up, there are always several boogie boarders and surfers here. They are fun to watch. Swimming is pretty good is tide is in, but the fish are easier to see when the tide is out. A lifeguard is on duty most of the time.

I saw a mongoose here. Sneaky little beast.

Kapoho Tide Pools in Pahoa, south of Hilo
I have only been here once, but it's a place I'll go again and again. The drive is over an hour and if I get the time, it's worth it--a definite place to take visitors. The water is warm and the stunning variety of coral is beautiful.

Before I started working, I took a couple trips over to the other side of the island, where there are sandy beaches and snorkeling without so many rocks.

King Kamehameha Beach
This is the closest beach to Kailua Kona, largest city on the leeward side of the island. Advantages are the proximity of restaurants and shops, and the little shack right on the beach where you can rent gear or a canoe. The disadvantage is that it is crowded with people instead of fish.

People can fish from this wall. It was scary to swim when there were fishhooks nearby.

Kona Boys gear rental

Mauna Lani
This place is idyllic. I dream about it.

The day I was there, I had a snack of corn chips. When the sparrows found the chips, and then me, we had a grand time together.  I learned the other day that this is illegal. It's frowned upon even to have a bird feeder in your yard. These are sparrows, originally from areas around the Mediterranean. Introduced and feral birds have made survival of indigenous birds a real problem.

Over to Kailua Kona for the day yesterday, I tried this beach. The weather was perfect, the surf was interesting enough for casual surfers but calm enough for swimmers, and there was enough room for me to sit in my beach chair and read in between snorkeling. I saw three turtles. Well, maybe I saw a turtle three times. But it's always exciting to see honu, the Hawai'ian green sea turtle.

There is a volunteer-run effort at this beach to preserve the health of the area. When I arrived, there was a volunteer (the guy in the hat) standing in the water about 10 feet from a turtle. The volunteers took shifts and stood there for about two hours, educating swimmers about the turtles and protecting the turtle from people who might otherwise have bothered it. It is illegal to touch or even bother turtles. Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers must stay at least ten feet from them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Finding a place to live was not what I expected. I thought I'd find a studio apartment in one of the many apartment buildings I had seen on Craigslist. But when I arrived, I found that the decent apartment buildings were fully occupied and had waiting lists. The ones with vacancies were, well, not where I'd want to live. A giant cockroach greeted us at one place where I was shown into an apartment. Not to mention noisy; I discovered every one of them had more noise than I can tolerate. I am too old to want to live with people who have big speakers for their heavy metal or hip-hop.

It didn't take too long to give up on apartments and concentrate solely on rental houses, usually no more expensive than a similar-sized apartment. After a close call with a scammer (whew! got past that one without losing any money), and writer's cramp from filling in several rental applications, I was approved for the one where I am living, and given a move-in date of two days later. Another place I was looking at would have been close enough to walk to work, but it would have been another two weeks before I would have been able to move in. At $100 a night for the hotel, that was a delay I wanted to avoid.

A nice kitchen, two bedrooms, a carport and room to garden. Perfect!

The front of the house

The view across the road

The back yard

African Tulip Tree, Spathodea campanulata in the back yard.

This should clear up my Vitamin Green deficiency!

Inside it already had a few pieces of furniture left by the previous tenants. Best was a bed. And what a bed: a California king size TempurPedic! With these amenities, I hoped my one towel, one plate, one fork, one spoon, and one knife from Target, plus the three suitcases of necessities  I brought with me, would suffice until the movers delivered the rest of my things.

Living Room, laminate floor
Nice kitchen 

What I didn't know was that it would be another five weeks until that delivery. In the meantime, it was an interesting adventure living in such a minimalist way. I was able to keep busy snorkeling, reading, writing, and looking for furnishings I'd need but not shipped.

Finally, on December 31, my things were delivered. I am still getting organized...more later!