Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's the deal with the (808)?

I've had a lot of people ask what the (808) in the name of my blog means. (808) refers to the area code for the state of Hawaii. And "eight" rhymes with "Kate", which sounds kind of nice.

You may have noticed that my URL doesn't match the title at the top of the page. Here's how we got here. I started this blog back in July of 2007 (!!!) when I was still in Minneapolis. When I signed up with blogspot I didn't take any time to develop something literary or meaningful when I signed up for an address. I thought I'd throw my name in there and some other random info, hence kate-mpls. Heck, I'm not even sure I realized that the name of my blog could be my address too. I just wanted to get something up and running and didn't put much thought into it. (There is probably a way to make my URL match my blog title at this point, but that would take a certain amount of effort.)

While I was in Minneapolis, the blog was called "Kate's Blog". (I have worked with very creative and very gifted writers over the years, and I have never been confused with any of them.) That named worked well enough for me, because for all I knew I was really the only one reading it. Once I moved out to Hawaii I decided to try and come up with something new for a title, since all of a sudden my blog became a de facto communication tool for my friends and family to keep up to date on my life. I wanted the title to have something to do with Hawaii, and I ran through about 10 seriously hokey names in my head before I finally settled on the area code idea. Something about Hawaii invokes really cheesy blog names to me. Maybe it's because I feel a little bit like I live on the set of a 1950s Elvis movie.

Even though I'm not 100% happy with "Kate's (808)", I don't feel like straining my brain to think up something else. It will do for now. I suppose I could just keep renaming it with the various area codes that I'll be living in for the next 10 years. That will be my plan until I come up with something better. Unless some one out there has a better suggestion . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's the ice cream man!

It's free ice cream day! Wahoo!

Every once and awhile, maybe once every two months or so, the company that runs the military housing out here on Oahu sponsors an ice cream truck to drive around the neighborhood, passing out free ice cream to everyone. Every man, woman and child pours out onto the street when they hear that free ice cream truck approaching. Census 2010 workers, take note: if you want an accurate count of how many people live in a neighborhood have an ice cream truck drive up and down the streets, blaring "Do Your Ears Hang Low" while handing out ice cream shaped like Sponge Bob Square Pants.

By the way, I am keenly aware of the inconsistency between my last post about working out and this post about me sprinting towards free ice cream. Judge me if you want, but it was free chocolate ice cream. I'm completely comfortable with being judged.

Friday, January 22, 2010


The entire top left quadrant of my back is knotted up. This is what I get for attempting to be healthy. Before the holiday season hit, and I headed to the mainland, Bernadette and I were working out twice a week together. We had been doing that for more than four months, so my body had adjusted to the strength training regime meaning I didn't wake up with screaming pain after awhile. (The first couple weeks were rough, though.)

I don't know if I've mentioned what Bernadette does - she's a personal trainer/massage therapist, though at the moment she works more as a personal trainer at a gym up on one of the Army bases on Oahu. She's a health nut, which is said with the utmost affection. Not only is she informed about the nutritional and physical fitness needs of others, but she's a committed runner/swimmer/cyclist and is in the midst of training for a triathlon for herself. Nut. But her nuttiness was to my benefit, as I put on a few inches around the middle after moving out here. (It was the annoying type of weight gain where the scale doesn't say you've put on more than two or three pounds, but you know something is up because your pants don't fit around the middle anymore and you're looking for shirts with an empire waist.)

When Bernadette and I got back from diving with the Manta Rays on the Big Island in July we decided to hit the gym to do strength training twice a week. I'd much rather do strength training than, say, cardio because cardio is evil. Cardio makes me feel like I want to die. I don't think things that are supposedly "healthy" should make you feel like the end is nigh. Bernadette put together a nice workout regiment that involved mostly strength training and an occasional cardio session (I suffered through them). I even made it through a couple of her yoga classes. (Did I mention she's a yoga instructor too? Yeah, total overachiever.)

Once the holidays got close, Bernadette had guests and then I headed to the mainland. When we finally met up on Tuesday, it had been close to five or six weeks since I had been in the gym. We took it relatively easy that day, since Bernadette admitted she had only done strength training twice since I left. Yes, she runs 15 miles, bikes 50 miles and swims for an hour a day or something else utterly ridiculous - but no strength training. Was her admission supposed to make me feel better? The closest thing I did to working out while I was away was . . . um . . . nothing. Oh wait, I did 12 push ups at the cabin to show my family that I could do push ups now. I'm pretty sure that doesn't count. Anyhow, due to Tuesday's workout, I was pretty sore on Wednesday.

Then yesterday I went to a kickboxing class with a friend, whom I shall name "Claudette". (Names are almost always changed to protect the innocent.) Claudette is married to one of the guys Zac works with. Since the new year she has attended some sort of organized gym class six days a week. Spinning, Zumba, kickboxing, step aerobics, etc. She's not a health nut like Bernadette, but she's trying to lose a few pounds and has committed herself fully to the effort. Last week Claudette asked me if I wanted to attend a kickboxing class with her. I don't usually do group fitness classes because I have terrible coordination and usually end up fumbling all over the place, making me feel conspicuous and awkward. But it dawned on me that Bernadette and Ken (her husband) will be leaving in April for their new duty station. If I had any hopes of maintaining some sort of exercise program after Bernadette left, I needed to find something new.

Last week's kickboxing was uncomfortable at best. I am no Chuck Norris. Neither is anyone else for that matter - just so we're clear on that. I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would though and, by golly, I worked up a pretty good sweat during the class. Skipping ahead to this week, even though I still had lingering soreness from Tuesday, I went to kickboxing again and pushed through another hour of kick-a$$ club music (I do love that part) and sweat and exhaustion. Last night I had a hard time climbing up into bed. Yes, I said "up into bed". Our bed is very high, and I am very short. I almost need those carpeted stairs that you see on tv that gives little dogs bed access.

This morning I tried to sit up in bed and it didn't go well. Like I mentioned earlier, the upper left side of my back was shrieking with pain. As I'm working on the computer today I've occasionally got a heating pad wrapped around the sore area, taking breaks to stretch everything out. I'd say I need a massage, but I'm afraid that I massage would reduce me to a blubbering mess at the moment.

And as much as I hate to say it, I feel better after a couple of kickboxing classes and weight training. I don't like exercise, but it does actually make me feel better - in the long run. Because in the short run today, it's crummy. Curse my 21st century sedentary lifestyle.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saturday night on the west coast

I spent Saturday night on the west coast of Oahu, near Waianae. The Waianae side of Oahu doesn't have a great reputation - it's thought of being a little law-less, a little dangerous. Some of this comes from the large concentration of homeless people that populate the beaches with semi-permanent campsites, making it uncomfortable for many people to use those beaches for recreation. Also, the Waianae side isn't as commercially developed as the rest of Oahu, meaning that there aren't as many shiny chain stores and restaurants that make tourists feel comfortable spending money there. (It amazes me that people come to Hawaii and then seek out Denny's for breakfast, Chili's for lunch and Macaroni Grill for supper.)

One of the other drawbacks of the area is that it is a dead end. The road stops a few miles after Waianae, meaning that there isn't traffic moving through the area as people drive around the island. Most traffic turns north before it gets to Waianae since you can loop around the other 2/3 of the island if you go on a different route. As a result you don't get casual drivers coming through Waianae. People live in Waianae and commute out of it to Kapolei or Honolulu and then come back to their large-scale cul-de-sac. There has been some talk of maybe connecting the road on the west side to the north side of the island, but the cost would be high and I've heard that the people in Waianae shout down the idea. I guess they like the quiet of their neighborhood. I can't say I entirely disagree with their desire to keep it low-key and residential, since most of Oahu bends over backwards to appease tourists (sometimes at the expense of locals.)

Randomly, to me at least, there is a military recreation center in Waianae on the beach. There is a collection of cabins that military people can rent out for some R&R. They are staggered in distance from the shore, but the furthest one is only 100 feet from the beach. Not a bad location. Plus, being on the west side, you can watch the sun set over the Pacific. Not a bad way to spend an evening. Bernadette rented out one of the cabins for her birthday and then invited a handful of us to join her in relaxing at the beach and spending the night.

The beaches on the west side are beautiful. (For the record the state is moving the homeless people off of many of the beaches in the hopes that people will be more comfortable using them. Granted this simply means that the homeless have moved to other areas that haven't been reclaimed yet. Why solve a problem when you can just move it a half mile down the sand?) We spent the afternoon sunning ourselves and watching some surfers grab some small waves.

The most fun was watching one young father take his daughter (maybe about five years old) out on his longboard with him. Longboards are surf boards that are, um, well . . . long. I'd guess they're eight feet maybe. Taller than an average man for sure. They're not good for doing cool tricks, but they're nice and stable for riding waves. This father had his daughter kneeling near the front of the board while he kneeled in the middle and paddled out to the break. I think most parents would freak out at the idea of taking a five year old that far into the ocean, but not surfers. Pretty soon the dad had positioned the board to catch a wave and they were riding it back in. As he stood up on the board, his little girl stood up in front of him. Then the dad, in one amazing, swooping motion, scooped up his daughter and placed her on his shoulders. The two of them road in to shore, just like that. I was dumbfounded. I've seen parents paddle out and ride back in with their kids sitting on the boards, kneeling on the boards, and even standing on the boards with them. I had never seen a kid ride in on his or her dad's shoulders. Once they got close to shore he swept her down and they both hopped into the water with huge smiles on their faces. Then they went out and did it again. I really enjoyed watching them.

As it got close to supper time we decided to eat at the bar/restaurant that is located with the cabins. The food was adequate. Well, semi-adequate. Not the best. The bar closed at 9:00, which is fairly early as far as bars go, so we didn't spend much time there. We went back to the cabin and played games for the rest of the night and laughed a lot. I'm not sure if it was the amount of sun we got, or the soothing sounds of the waves crashing in the dark just outside our door or what, but we were pretty exhausted around 11 and headed for bed. That's how it goes on the west side, I guess. Nice and quiet, just like they want it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The dreaded blue screen of death

My laptop is kaput. I don't know how or why (I'm looking at you, Windows) but on Friday my laptop decided to crash and burn on me. I wasn't a happy camper. I took it in to some computer wizards and they're in the process of trying to breathe life back into it. They believe that it's just a software issue (again, you, WINDOWS) so hopefully it will be on the mend shortly. In the meantime I'm using Zac's laptop for all my computing needs.

I meant to blog a recap of my California/Minnesota holiday season as soon as I got back, but you know how that goes. Best laid plans and all. I figured I needed to get something up soon before the peanut gallery started hollering at my lack of posting again.

The Minnesota portion of my trip was lovely. Frigid, but lovely. I got to spend lots of time with my immediate and extended family. I even got to spend three days up at the Dome, celebrating New Year's as we have in years past. It was cold up there, -24 air temp the morning we were leaving, but that didn't dampen the fun. Usually our winter trips to the cabin involve playing cards and snacking throughout the day. We also usually take some nice walks through the woods, but the bitter cold made that less appealing this year. We enjoyed nature from the comfort of the living room, watching the woodpeckers and chickadees devour the suet from the feeders. So relaxing.

I spent a good part of my time in Minnesota with Lincoln. I think he's simply terrific. The more time I spend around him, the more I am terrified that my kids won't be nearly as cool as he is. Maybe that's a horrible thing to say, but it's true. He's healthy as a bear, he's smart as a whip, he has a jovial temperament (generally - he is two after all, and occasionally he's a terror), he's curious and he seems to enjoy everything.

Lincoln can be fairly easy to entertain. When we were at the cabin Lincoln requested that I blow bubbles for his amusement. I grabbed the bottle of bubbles from the kitchen and he directed me to either "Bubbles up", meaning blow the bubbles so they get pulled skyward in the updraft of the fireplace, or "Bubbles down", meaning blow the bubbles where they drift down so he can destroy them like he's a miniature Godzilla. I'm not sure who had more fun, him or I.

For the record, bubbles are awesome. If you blow them outside on a cold, still day they freeze and shatter. If you blow them around most dogs, the dogs go crazy chasing them. (Have a bowl of water available.) And in all circumstances, they are beautiful and calming. My dad used to keep them in his cubicle at work and when he overheard a coworker having a rough day he'd blow a few streams over the walls. It's hard to be stressed out and angry when bubbles are gently raining down on you.

It's good to be back in the routine of normal life. Three weeks of being on the road is hard, no matter how much fun you had. It's especially nice going back to making meals at home, instead of eating out or having large, holiday meals. It's also nice to get back to work, as I find income enjoyable. Now I just need to get my computer up and running and I'll be back into the swing of things. Dumb Windows.