Thursday, September 27, 2012

Belated 9/11 Ho'okipa Mural + Weekend Announcements

I've been so distracted with the chickens that I've gotten behind in posting "the Ho'okipa pillbox mural" pics.

So, here's some belated mural art for 9/11 - and I'm pretty sure it was painted for 9/11.  A couple of days ago, the mural got updated again. For more information or pics on the pillbox mural, visit the right side labels for "Ho'okipa" or "public art."

A patriotic prayer message. 

More recently redone by earth loving hippies with paint brushes. 

PS. Tomorrow is also National Museum Day, so the Bailey House Museum is free from 10 am - 4 pm. The museum is offering some extra events, but you must print out your ticket and bring a copy to get in for free. Maui Fair continues through the weekend

PPS. Also tomorrow, Big cane burning protest at the intersection of Mokulele and Dairy Road near the commuter parking lot from 9:45 am-11:15 am. If you feel strongly about the issue, and have time, please show up. 

10 Reasons To Go To The Maui Fair

1.You have kids – it’s the closest thing we’ve got to Disneyland on Maui.  

2. You have a weakness for funnel cakes and deep fried foods or you want a particular local food that you know you can get at the Fair. 

"Go, Aunty, Go!"
3. You're a big kid at heart. You enjoy the energy of big crowds. You like going fast on rides and trying to win oversize teddy bears by hitting the bottle.  You love the local entertainment lined up for the fair.  

4. If you’re new to Maui, it’s a way to experience being with a lot of local residents rather than mainland tourists and because of that, the feeling of being on Maui is entirely different.  

5. Student artwork is often really good and surprising.

A "lovely" photo by Maui High student Raquel Lara-Cruz. 

6. You’ll learn a lot of helpful information by stopping at the different community and nonprofit booths – from invasive plants, to the watershed, to Maui bees. I always thought it would be a great idea for the community garden to have a booth at the fair, but organizing the volunteers for the booth is a big task, like herding cats.

Oooh!  The scary brown tree snake that ate Guam.
Let's keep it out of Hawaii. 

7. It’s a good place to take a first date!  There are thrills, things to nosh, live entertainment, opportunities to impress your date, and places to kiss in the dark. 

8. You love plants and want to look at a lot of orchids or many different kinds of fruits and vegetables. You want to know what grows on Maui
Vanilla bean orchid with pods
Did you know allspice grows on Maui?
Bamboo shoots grown on Maui. 

9. If you have a business or nonprofit to promote on a big scale on Maui, this is a great place to reach out to a lot of residents. 

10.You want to support your local church, community group or nonprofit by buying food etc. from them, or by helping at their booth. 

‘Nuff said. 

The parade starts this afternoon. For the full schedule and parking info, visit the Maui Fair's website. Or read here about my take on the Fair from last year

Confession: After convincing myself to go to the Fair this year, I didn't make it. But you can read about the Fair 2012 on MauiShopGirl's site

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let there be chickens

The Biblical version: “The Lord God looked over his domain and saw that it was good in the rain country of Haiku. He spake, ‘Thou livest in Haiku but where are thy chickens? It is not enough to listeneth to the early morning wild roosters that soundeth thee out of bed.  And it is not enough to be thy brother’s chicken keeper. Thou needeth thine own chickens to be fruitful and multiply and to receiveth eggs, and to turn the other cheek when they pecketh at thou.’ ”

Maui is full of wild chickens and loud roosters. 

The Buddhist version: “And the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree and realized

Humbled by Beauty - Again

On the same morning in early September, after seeing the night blooming cereus blooming high up on Haiku Road, I turned on Hana Highway heading towards Kahului.  

Rainbow over Hana Highway
There was a fantastic rainbow over the water so I just had to stop. 

Then I got back in the car, and the rainbow was even better further down the road, so I stopped again. 

Coming out of Maliko Gulch, the only major dip in the road between Kahului and Haiku, my car approached a bluff overlooking the ocean. There's a very safe pull-out here, clearly evidenced by well-worn tire tracks. 

The bluff was covered in night blooming cereus continuing downhill towards the ocean. These flowers are gorgeous, and the size of dinner plates! There's a sharp drop off though, so I didn't wander too far down. 

And there was still a rainbow over the ocean.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stone Cookies - A Local Favorite

Stone cookies don't appear on Maui all the time. Their appearance is unpredictable, based on the whims of the bakers, the buyers, and the delivery people. "Oh, let's see, hmm, when shall we bring stone cookies to Maui? When the winds are blowing from Kona, the moon is halfway in the sky and waning, Haiku has had 3 sunny days in a row (ha!), and the lehua trees are blooming under a double rainbow."  It's pretty random. They are made on the Big Island, in a little town called Mountain View which is close to the volcano.  Even on the Big Island, the bakery hours are a bit whimsical, since they often close at 2 pm or whenever the cookies are sold out.

Stone cookies from Mountain View Bakery,
the stuff of tooth-breaking legends.

During a school trip from Oahu to the Big Island, the bakery was a special and scheduled stop in the itinerary. Just about everyone in my 7th grade class poured out of the bus, bought at least one bag of stone cookies, plus extras to give to relatives and friends back home. 

Aptly named, the cookies are hard like stones, bigger than my fist, and they last very well unrefrigerated. There are at least three varieties - original, chocolate chip, and raisin. 

Most locals dunk them into cold milk, hot chocolate or coffee. They are not really intended to be eaten straight because you might break a tooth. Or you could gently gnaw a chunk very slowly until it softens up. 

Where to buy stone cookies on Maui?
Look at the sale racks at Longs Drugs or Pukalani Superette. Every now and then, you'll see a display of stone cookies on sale.

Yellow and white bags of stone cookies on sale.

I spotted them recently at Pukalani Superette and they might still be available there.  Good luck!

Here's another short article that includes some history of the stone cookies

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Local Beef can be Affordable

There are several places on Maui to buy local beef. It is sometimes more expensive than beef imported from the mainland, but it can be less expensive.

Some advantages to buying local beef, i.e., from cows raised on Maui.

Maui Cattle Co. Beef at Pukalani Superette. 

  • Local beef is healthier.
  • The animals have had a better life than animals raised in CAFOs (aka commercial feed lots) and have had access to pasture and grass and sometimes ocean views!
  • The environmental costs of raising and transporting beef locally are also less. 
  • A summary of reasons to eat grass fed beef can be found here
I was told when I asked about hormones in the beef, that Hawaii state law prohibits local beef to be produced using any growth hormones.  Also, if you’ve watched the documentary Food Inc, there’s a scene in which the narrator says that a single commercially produced hamburger can contain portions of meat from hundreds of cows mixed together, and some of the cows have tumors in the meat or other diseases. Yuck.

Where to buy local beef: 
PukalaniSuperetteMana FoodsWhole Foods MarketHanzawa's Grocery in Haiku, and Rodeo General Store in Makawao. Sometimes Longs Drugs carries local beef in their frozen section. Haiku Grocery may carry some local beef under the Maui Cattle Co. label, but the store-packaged hamburger is no longer local as of this year.  I’ve never seen local beef at any of the chain supermarkets. Local hamburger or ground beef is sometimes as low as $2.99/lb (this is less expensive than most supermarkets on Maui) but usually it’s more. Other cuts can be up to $8 or $9/lb but you can buy cuts like beef chuck and then tenderize the heck out of it using shredded green papaya. And it will taste great!  If you need to find certain cuts of local beef like beef chuck or livers or kidneys OR buy in larger quantities, definitely ask Pukalani Superette, because they can let you know what days certain things arrive to their store and they are wonderfully helpful. 

Update 1/24/13: Originally, this post mentioned a specific local institution to buy Maui beef directly, without a middleman, but shortly after I posted it, the business requested that I remove their name and not mention them. They said they just didn't want the publicity. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Night Blooming Cereus Up High on Haiku Road

Pine needles and night blooming cereus on Haiku Road. 

I felt like a tourist who had sighted a humpback whale for the first time. The kind of Maui tourist who also slows her car to a crawl oblivious to the long line of cars behind her, because the sight is so astonishing.  People on Maui are so nice that they don’t even honk when tourists do dumb stuff. I felt smacked by a miracle. Luckily it was early enough that no one was behind me and there was plenty of room to pull over.

Early morning two Sundays ago, I was driving down Haiku Road, towards the same stretch of Norfolk Pines below the white fenced Baldwin Estate that I had passed many times over the years. Around the bend, there they were, like big white fireworks suspended in a net of pine.

I had known about the cereus vine climbing up the pine trees, but didn’t know if it ever bloomed because it was so shady. About a month ago, I saw expired flowers along the trees, and realized it did bloom after all. But I had missed the big show. With all this extra summer rain, more than normal - yes, even for Haiku! - maybe the cereus is blooming more often this year.

In the middle of the photograph, there is a speck on a leaf which is a big carpenter bee pollinating the flowers. 

It’s humbling to see such unexpected beauty. Little did I know that I would be humbled by beauty twice in one day. This is what happened next

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Maui Smug Revealed - A First Hand Account

Note: This are not exactly minutes or a summary, more like my rambling impressions from attending my first ever meeting. 

My first mistake was not bringing a laptop. Why didn’t we think of it? Actually, DH did mention it but I spaced it in trying to get out of the house on time. I don’t own an iphone or an android, so all my mobility is wrapped up in what Peter Liu, host at the Maui Social Media Users Group (MauiSMUG) meeting, calls “the archaic version of a mobile device.” Ok, maybe he didn’t use the word archaic, but close enough.

Anyhow, I recommend a laptop. The tables are equipped with outlets and holes down the middle for computer cords. So bring a laptop, ipad, or at least a smart phone, so you can hide behind something if your n00bness or newbness is showing. Also, if you can’t keep up with the conversation, then you can surf the web on the wifi network.  A laptop is easier to manipulate than a smart phone because you can have 10+ tabs open at the same time. We watched Peter Liu open more and more tabs on his laptop, conveniently projected on the big screen.  I wondered how many he would open by the end of the meeting. It seemed like 15 was the bare minimum, although I didn’t really count. I was too busy trying to keep up with all the techno lingo and Peter-Liu-isms.

Maui Smug attendees on August 30, 2012 watching Daria Musk demonstrate studio mode on Google+. 

I had always been curious about what happens at the Maui SMUG meetings since I’ve never been able to get any good intel on them, even with the twitter hashtag for #MauiSMUG. The SMUG moniker really fits… because anyone who can nimble-finger a computer and has secret knowledge is bound to be a little smug, don’t you think?  

Peter Liu-ism #1: “Resist the urge to automate.” I think he said that at least 3 times. I interpreted that to mean to not post or comment on things the same way/time all the time, and to keep one’s social media involvement lively and different.

People introduced themselves and provided their twitter handle. DH got a few chuckles by saying he finally set up the Commodore 64. I think he spooked one of the attendees later on when she asked for his twitter handle, and he said, “Twitter, what’s that?” As if only psychopaths, felons and nutcases do not have twitter handles. (Actually I bet all of the above have twitter handles.) I am, for better or worse, the computer person in our household, and that is a sobering thought.

During the intro, one attendee talked about how he provides social media support to companies, and Peter asked if he “builds assets.” Pssst, what does that mean? Oh, building things like Facebook pages, or websites.

Most people there seemed techno-fluent because the first discussion question from Malia Bohlin was about workflow and how to organize one’s social media workflow.  I didn’t even understand the question because it was three or four levels beyond me. But Peter Liu or someone else there said that weekday posts are generally shorter and quick to absorb, and for longer posts like how-to’s, then he generally saves them for the weekends.

Someone asked about when to post. I’m lucky if I feel the energy to post at all, much less ponder when!  Peter or Erik Blair suggested 10 am for the target audience in their time zone.  Erik said he has audiences across the world, so has to adjust for their time zone, which can mean sometimes working really late or really early.  Early risers often take a break around 10 am and late risers tend to go online around then. Monica Aguilar jumped in and said in her work, she was told to post 3x a day, Monday – Friday, at 10am, noon and 3 pm. 10am was explained, and noon is for lunch break, and 3 pm is for a midafternoon break. Peter said that the weekend readers are sometimes not as engaged in reading posts. Then Peter mentioned something called Flipboard, which I hadn’t heard of, which grabs interesting RSS feeds and recirculates them.

Peter Liu-ism #2: Social media is really about having real life conversations on the web.

Then Peter Liu confessed, sometime in the beginning, that he moved to Maui and planned to never look at a computer again. Famous last words, since he is now running a social media boot camp and wears a shirt with his twitter handle on it!  His wife, Kathy Becklin was also there, sitting behind her laptop. A dual-tech couple.

Suzanne Frew asked if anyone knew about a feature on Facebook that is so new, that most people don’t have it yet. For fan pages, there is now a “target icon” in between the clock and the location icon on the lower left if you want to target a post to a particular audience, filtered to their interests and profile. Peter scrolled around looking for the information on this new feature and finally found it on a power user’s site.

Erik Blair had a lot of fun with this target icon idea – “That means if I’m single, I can send a post to only the single women,” then he added with a grin, “or the single men, depending on how I’m feeling on a Saturday night.”

The target icon would allow posts to be directed only to speakers of a particular foreign language. There was a quick show of hands to find out how many people had posted in a foreign language (a few) or two foreign languages (two or maybe three? people).

My big question for the group, since I wasn’t ready to ask about RSS, was how to make a picture on Facebook go across the page, across both columns in a timeline? There’s a star in the upper right corner that will “highlight” the post and make the picture bigger. Cool. Who knew?

Then a shaggy-faced, slightly ruddy, mischievous looking fireball stormed in with his Macbook, and threw himself into the conversation. He opened his Macbook which had all sorts of stickers on the back, like twitter and MauiTime. He talked about which I thought was maybe his deliberate techno pronunciation of, but is actually like itchy with an “N” in front - a site that is creating a new format for the web, that isn’t just the “back end.” This was definitely a bit complex for me. Back end? Whazz’dat?

Then the fireball gathered more energy and started talking about Medium. Medium? What? Medium he said is from the same team that launched Blogger, now taken over by Google, and Twitter. If you think of Blogger as the long form and Twitter as the short form, then Medium is well, you guessed it.  It’s another publishing platform, where users can choose their passions, create a collection. Anyone can contribute posts to the collection, and groups can form naturally. Readers can just read or can become contributors. Medium is still in its beta stage, so only certain people can post. Peter Liu quickly found the site, created an account and scrolled up and down.

The fireball then asked if anyone had used or maybe it’s alpha dot app dot net or app dot net, an app to help you find other apps. Who knows? Or whether anyone had used an app called Oink, an app that had failed.  The fireball said oink or maybe he was now talking about some other app, was like Foursquare meets Yelp meets Instagram. Oh, I think I just strained a brain muscle. Yes, it hurts, especially since I don’t have any muscles in my brain.

Peter was opening more tabs on his computer, and went to looking up 3rd party developers while mentioning “If This Then That” IFTTT from the other side of his mouth. This must be some other app or ??? that I haven’t heard of. Meanwhile, attendees were taking instagram photos of the meeting and posting them, and Peter stopped at one point to take an instagram photo of the group. DH occasionally would whisper conspiratorially, “I think everyone in here is from the Bay area!” But that wasn’t true since Jody Yoshida was there, and she’s a local girl.

Peter-Liu-ism #3: “Everyone’s in a perpetual stage of beta these days.” Peter pointed out that it’s not just Medium that it’s in beta development, but all websites, all apps, etc. are in a beta stage. The fireball added, “No company’s finished, no product’s finished. Everything’s in flux.”  I kept wondering who was this bearded guy who hadn’t introduced himself but seemed to know a lot and talk a mile a minute. Suzanne said, “That’s Tommy Russo of Maui Time.” Oh... Even DH knew who that was. He is like his paper, kind of rowdy and excitable and talkative. I just found out he even has a mention in wikipedia

There was some discussion around using HootSuite vs. Sprout Social, and Suzanne proposed that there be a special topic around that in the future. This could be possible, but some other folks mentioned that HootSuite etc and Sprout Social are pay-for services for people who are really running an online business. I think Peter Liu or someone else mentioned that you could put in a keyword and use it to search Facebook, Twitter, Google + and it doesn’t have to be in the public only feature, the search can work in limited privacy like “friends” or “friends of friends.” Which is potentially very useful. (Note: Roxanne Darling, who wasn't at the meeting, mentioned in a post that she loves Sprout Social.)

There was some lamenting about Posterous. I haven't gotten into Posterous, but apparently it no longer can auto post instagram pics or something like that to twitter and facebook. (Note: I thought this site had become extinct, but Peter's comment in the comments section below explains it better.)

Peter Liu-ism #4: If you’re hiring someone to do your social media, they need to have some skin in the game because they are the voice of your company. “Skin in the game?” This must be a sports term, my understanding means “experience” or “having something of one’s own at risk.” Erik or one of the other attendees said that you want someone who is going to respond to those posts and interact, and be available 24/7. People don’t want to wait 24 hours to hear back from you.

Peter Liu-ism #5: When people tell me they have to do social media but don’t want to do anything with it, because it’s this “new nuisance thing,” what they’re really telling me is they don’t have time to have conversations with people about their business.

The conversation drifted into how some employers “get social media” meaning they understand it and the need for it, and support their consultants in creating an effective strategy and others don’t get it. Monica said that she would love to do more cutting edge campaigns using pinterest or google+ not just facebook and twitter, and that she doesn’t understand how some businesses can say ok to facebook, but no, twitter is too much.

Tommy Russo showed off his new app, called snaptat, a mobile app showcasing tattoo pics. He mentioned doing a search on twitter for anyone who had a tattoo pic, complimenting each person, and then sending them a link to his new app, saying mobile is where it’s at.  Then Tommy confessed something very hmmm netherworld, sort of like taking the dark matter of the universe and coalescing it into a dark matter creature, and only for $7.50 + $4 in shipping! I won’t reveal his secret, because the group thinks he should do a blog post on it. Erik Blair had a smaller, similar secret to confess, and I won’t mention that either. Ask either of them when you see them.

We spent some time looking at Tommy Russo video clips of where he lives on, watching his route from his house in Wailuku to the beach to film the tsunami that didn’t happen last year in March, although the water did rise and get funky. Watching these video clips made me feel like a gawker of The Truman Show.  Suzanne then talked about using social media to help with disasters, citing sites like Even if a disaster is happening elsewhere in the world, social media volunteers can spread information by tweeting or texting or posting, which helps out the staff and volunteers at the scene of the emergency. Peter Liu and Tommy Russo said they created a hashtag for the tsunami last year and tweeted each other updates, but there is no official crisis commons social media support group for Hawaii yet. Peter also scrolled up and down and twitter to read FEMA tweets from FEMA director Will Fugate.  Also, Tommy said that in case of disaster, the Maui Time office in Wailuku could be a safe/functioning  information hub since they have three kinds of internet connections. 

Then we talked about Google+ hangouts to watch a singer named Daria Musk demonstrate Studio Mode. I’m not a big Google+ user, since I’m still learning twitter. Daria is a singer songwriter who started using Google+ hangouts to do live concerts and has become a hit internet music phenomenon. The whole point of the demo was to show how Studio mode can be used for concerts as opposed to voicemode. Or maybe we did Google+ hangouts before Tommy Russo’s video clips.

My head was pretty thick and cloudy by then, kind of like Tommy Russo’s dark matter secret, full of gibberish and nonsensical endings.  The meeting ended at 6:45 pm, so it was almost 3 hours long. Some people went to an after party at Thailand Cuisine to talk more social media talk, but we rushed up to Pu’unene to talk with the Maui Makers and get some help on DH’s motorcycle rebuilding project, where we ran into none other than Tommy Russo again! This time not talking about tattoos or tsunamis or medium but chicken tractors and his recovering dog with a mysterious illness. What a strange place Maui is. From the geek netherworld to chicken tractors, from the air conditioned high tech digital world of Hi Tech Maui to the red dust at Pu’unene – but there were ipads and Macbooks there too. 

BY THE WAY, anyone who was at the meeting or knows any of these sites is welcome to correct or clarify what I've written, most of which was in a blur of smeared gray matter. Or let me know if you would like other links to be added.  It would be most appreciated. 

I asked Peter Liu and Erik Blair  if anyone takes notes at these meetings and shares them, but they didn't think so. Erik offered to remember past meetings at a nice breakfast or lunch locale.