Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spring fever hits Michigan

The gorgeous weather must be causing spring fever. I have three examples that struck me funny although one was starting to peeve a lot of us in line.  

1)  In Target a woman kept walking while her husband stopped to look at hearing aid batteries. He asked if she needed batteries. "What?" she said loudly. He asked her again, a little more loudly. "What??" she asked again. "Batteries! Do you need batteries?" he yelled while pointing to his ear. She patted her ear and loudly said no, she didn't need them. 

2)  Two registers were open at Penney's both with transactions almost complete. A fellow employee was leaving but stopped to show the cashiers a caricature she had done and a prize she had won. Apparently something was taking place for employees in a back room somewhere. One cashier looked, commented and got back to her customer. The other one stopped, ignored her customer and gave full attention to her coworker. Her customer looked at the rest of us in line and was rolling her eyes. I cleared my throat because I really needed to, but the women behind me must have thought I was sending a message because all 5 of us were suddenly ahem-ing. The coworker who was leaving got the message but the cashier was not too bright or just plain didn't care about customers.

I am sort of giving up diet Coke. That means I won't buy it to have in the house but might get one while I am out.    Twisted logic, eh? This leads to the last incident at McDonald's.

3) An employee was hosing off the drive thru area and apparently the older man ahead of me didn't want to be in his way. He stopped his car at least 6 feet from the speaker and was at an awkward angle where I doubt his car could be seen on the monitor inside.
(red box is where orders are taken)
He was yelling "Hello? Can anybody hear me?" and would turn and glare at me. I stayed way back in case he wanted to straighten his car out and pull in next to the screen. That wasn't happening. He got out and tapped on the speaker. Still nothing. He walked around the corner to the window where you pay, said something and got back in the car.

I heard the woman inside McDonald's apologize and tell him to place his order when ready. His wife, from the passenger seat places the order. I was dying! I could her say "like" and "drink" and "fries" but not the rest. Her husband, obviously related to the woman in Target yells "Did you get that?" before pulling around.

It doesn't take much to amuse me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Profiling your seat mate

Some restaurants and stores have a free bi-weekly paper called The Laughable News. It is one legal size sheet of paper with amusing stories and puzzles on both sides with local advertising in the sidebars.  This story is the lead story and made Bill and I shake our heads and then smile at the final comment. KLM's partnership with Facebook is true by the way, this isn't a joke.

Facebook Before You Fly - Creepy or Cool?

KLM has really adopted the idea of social media like no other airline. In a surprise move, KLM passengers will soon be able to pick who they want to sit next to by viewing their Facebook profile.

The pilot program is being praised for those people who are sick of being stuck next to crying babies or odd passengers - or for those simply looking for mile-high love.

The airline announced its plans to start a "meet and seat" service this year that will link travelers' Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to their check-in information.

Of course, you can see the trouble already. A beautiful lady pickers her seat as 3C, avoiding the creepy dude in 9D. But after she books, along comes an "extra creepy" dude who can't believe his luck. He books himself into 3B. So does the lady in 3C get to monitor who books after her? If so, she'll quickly dodge a bullet and move to 17A. But lets face it, she won't be safe...another creepy dude will just pop into her world.

So what options are there? Will KLM only seat "Friends" next to you? Well, unless you constantly drag a group of your best friends along, it seems unlikely. Another option would be to let you "block" all passengers you view as "creepy", not allowing them to see your profile, or sit next to you.

I can see it now. Soon the whole plane will be a sea of anonymous users, because no one will want other people stalking them. You'll roll the dice, pick a seat, and you'll find yourself stuck next to that crying baby.

Orchids, anyone?

One of our tour stops was at Akatsuka Orchid Gardens.  I am lucky to grow a few houseplants that thrive on benign neglect and occasional over watering so I freely admit that I know nothing about orchids. I wish I had been able to get the names of them, but we were pressed for time and there were many visitors all trying to sniff the blossoms and get good photos.
I thought a series of notecards featuring some of these blossoms, done in watercolors would be pretty, but don't hold your breath waiting for them.


I admit that orchids are not my favorite flower. While the colors and markings in many of them until now have been beautiful, this next one really doesn't do much for me, but wait until you see the sign that accompanies it!
We were told the sister orchid, valued at $20,000, earned that distinction by being perfectly symmetrical.
I still don't think it is very pretty.

This concludes the photos from our Hawaiian excursion unless my friend sends me some that are worth sharing. I'm more concerned about photos that could be blackmail worthy. Thank goodness she doesn't blog!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Boat Pageant at the Cultural Center

Today I would like to share some short videos taken at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the island of Oahu. More information about what is in these videos can be found here on the page of the website that describes the six islands depicted throughout the Center. The islands include those islands of Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. Each name represents multiple islands of that culture.

This tour was over 12 hours long from hotel to the Center, through all the activities, a Polynesian buffet, an evening show called Ha, the Breath of Life and the return trip to our hotel. I began to run out of room on my camera's card and was depleting the batteries too so I didn't get as much photographed as intended. These clips were taken during the boat pageant. Between camera issues and crowds of people, I didn't film the boats from Hawaii or Tahiti.

Some of the things that surprised my friend Lynn and I the most were how strenuous these dances were, especially the men slapping their chests and thighs. Some of the groups were very loud and facial expressions weren't always what we would consider friendly. There was only so much time for explanation at each "village" where some things were explained but that was before the pageant so these particular questions didn't arise. Then again, some things were undoubtedly explained and I've forgotten them while trying to stay out of the sun (how could I have left the sunscreen at the hotel?!!), baby a blister on my foot and worry about my camera's batteries and card? Let's just say that none of the four of us admit to sleeping on the hour's ride back to the hotel, but we don't remember any details of the ride either.

Some of the chants and music are quite loud so you may want to turn your speakers down before clicking on the clips.

Dancers from Fiji From Samoa From Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand)
From Tonga

I hope these clips play successfully. I haven't used YouTube for personal videos before and have the album set as private. Let me know if you can't see the images and I will make adjustments. Tomorrow I will end this travelogue with photos of orchids....lots of them.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hilo had me quaking

The day before visiting Kona, the cruise ship harbored on the other side of the Big Island and we visited Hilo. The guide told us we were lucky to have clear weather as Hilo is the wettest of American cities and had experienced a lot of rain the previous week.

The excursion here took us to see craters, steam holes and through a lava tube. I had never heard of a lava tube before this. It is basically a cave through which lava flows.

These photos were taken at the Halemaʻumaʻu crater. The Halemaʻumaʻu crater is a pit crater within the much larger summit caldera of Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The crater floor is 770 x 900 meters, 83 meters below the floor of the Kilauea caldera. In feet, that is 2,530 x 2,950 feet for the floor. and 270 feet below. Halemaʻumaʻu is home to Pele, Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes, according to Hawaiian traditions. According to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the crater is currently active, with lava in an open vent fluctuating from 70 to 150 meters below the crater floor. (This info taken from Wikipedia)

 Doesn't this look like smoldering ground fires?
This steam was HOT. That is my friend John in the orange shirt. I couldn't get as close as he did without my glasses steaming up.

 I handed the camera to my husband as we began our descent into the lava tube. I wasn't sure how steep, dark or slippery this was going to get. It wasn't bad but I was very cautious where I stepped. Look up "chicken" in some dictionaries and you'll see my photo.

 Ahhh, light at the end of the tunnel, er...lava tube!
 Above and below are views of the crater from another vantage point.
This last photo is a close up of part of the previous photo. See those specks? Those are people walking across the crater.
Our visit to Hilo was on January 18th. Our tour guide kept saying that something was "cooking" because he had been noticing subtle changes. Was this said to boost interest in his tour or was he serious? On January 22nd, when we were taking a city tour of San Francisco, a 4.7 earthquake hit 5 miles below the Kilauea volcano!

It is nice to be back in our boring little home town where nothing shakes unexpectedly. If only I could have brought home the blue skies and warm weather.....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kona coffee and chocolate

Mmmmm, touring a chocolate and coffee factory in the same day....does it get any better than this?

The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory was the first stop on her tour in Kona. The owners are originally from North Carolina where he was the caretaker of a golf course. What a leap of faith to move to Hawaii and start a chocolate factory!

Driving in past the first few trees
 The cacao pods can be different colors even before ripening

 I had a ring side seat for the cutting demo

 The beans are covered in a milky white substance, adhering to a spiny growth within the pod
 Some people like to chew on this part. This one was old and dry but shown in the demo
 Pulling off the beans

 Two different types of beans split open and displayed on the knife
 Geckos like chocolate too! See him near the bottom, right of center?
 Drying beans
 Tempering the chocolate. It smelled heavenly!
You'll have to click on the company name above to see some of their actual product. We were each given three samples which I would have photographed but with chocolate all over my hands (hey, it was a warm day!) I couldn't operate the camera.

Next stop was Kona Joes where coffee is grown on trellises just as grapes are grown in wineries. It may be impossible to believe if you don't love coffee, but the aroma here was even more delicious than at the chocolate factory!

Labor intensive work, training the plants onto the trellis
 Green, unripe beans
 When they are red like cherries, they are ready to be picked by hand
 The inside resemble a peanut
 Mmmmm, the smell was delicious in here!
 We sampled a few blends. Did you know that darker roasts have less caffeine than medium roasts? I still prefer medium though, and boy, this coffee was good!
 This is hubby and me standing just off from the patio in the above photo. Nice scenery while you work, eh?
We were each given a coffee mug to bring home. I wrapped them in articles of clothing but one broke in my suitcase anyway. That one was Bill's, of course.