New FAQ’s on Maui

Aloha!
Ta-da! There is something new at Mauidailyescape.com. So many readers have been writing to ask questions about moving to Maui that I was spending hours each week answering individual letters. So instead, I spent a few hours compiling “FAQ’s on Moving to Maui” (frequently asked questions). You’ll find the Tab at the top of each page.

It’s my Christmas gift to you (and myself!) because this leaves more time to post on this blog. And I will continue to post new questions as people ask me, so check back on the FAQ’s once in a while. Today I just added a section on “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Selling Everything and Moving” at the bottom of the FAQ’s…so Janet and Gaylynn, those are for you!

The Tab that was called “Moving to Maui” (my own story )is now called “Unexpected Paradise.”

Readers, please do me a favor and take a moment to share how you found this blog, so I can see what I’m doing right….what were your Search terms that led you here?

As always, thank you for your interest in the blog…thank you for your very kind words and comments on how the blog is helping to expand your view of Hawaii and Maui. I appreciate you all, and look forward to sharing the islands with you in 2014. And I ask that if you enjoy mauidailyescape.com, that you’ll please tell a friend!

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Warm Aloha, Jamaica

Aloha from the Isle of Traffic

Aloha!
Did you know that the island of Oahu has the worst traffic in America? Seriously. Google it. It’s held that distinction for a number of years.

Maui is known as the Valley Isle, and Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. Oahu is known as The Gathering Place, which is pretty evident, as the most populous island. But having been here for a week, I think they should change the name to the Traffic Isle.

I LOVE Honolulu…it is probably the cleanest big city I’ve ever been to, and it has everything that Maui doesn’t, like a brand new two-story Nordstom Rack. And dozens of restaurants that we only wish we had on Maui (read: affordable), such as California Pizza Kitchen…which is the first place we head for.

But I honestly don’t know how these people do this day after day. We were on the freeway heading out of Honolulu by 3:30 in the afternoon, and it was bumper to bumper.

Sitting in traffic, spotted a popular new bumper sticker here, which I haven’t seen on Maui yet (thankfully): “Defend Hawaii”….(a picture of an Uzi) and then “Don’t mistake Aloha for weakness.”

Guess it’s on a par with that old stand-by: “Welcome to Hawaii. Now go home.” And: “If you don’t like Hawaiians, why did you move here?”

Yep, lots of reading material while sitting in traffic. I’d like to propose a new bumper sticker: “Peace, Love, and Aloha.”

That is what I’m sending you.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Positive Outlook?

Aloha!
Tourism is still the driving factor in Maui County’s economy, according to economists at First Hawaiian Bank’s 39th annual Maui Business Outlook Forum. But if you’re thinking of moving to Maui and finding a job, or starting a business, read on.

At its lowest point in the recent deep recession in 2010, the county lost nearly 9,000 jobs. About 5,000 of those jobs have returned, mostly in tourism and other service-related fields, and the unemployment rate is still well above the 3% rate before the recession. In my personal experience, I was working a part-time job on Maui when I was laid off. I found out firsthand that these jobs numbers are not totally accurate: I would never show up as a statistic, because I could not collect unemployment as a part-time employee. So it was as if my job never existed. And I could not collect unemployment, even though I’d been paying into it for years!

In it’s third-quarter “Outlook for the Economy” published last month, the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism projected state unemployment rates to be 4.8% in 2013 and 4.5% in 2014.

As for construction, activity has been on a slow but steady climb since 2011 and has made about a 25% recovery after plummeting to its low point in 2010. However, the economists noted, the opportunities are coming from infastructure and commercial construction, and less from residential and timeshares. So if you’re a guy planning to swing a hammer, be aware of that.

The retail sector also is expected to grow. The Maui Mall will add a T.J. Maxx store, scheduled to open in summer 2015.(Yay.) And the Queen Kaahumanu Center is planning to add new “name brand” shops. (That will be nice, especially after we lost both JCPenney and the Gap. Because of that, I tend to shop for basics on the mainland.)

As far as real estate, based on January – through – July numbers this year, sales for both single – family and condo units were well on their way to numbers not seen since their peak in 2007: 1,000 single family units and 1,300 condos sold. “The market is getting back to where it was,” said the President of Realtors Association of Maui, P. Denise LaCosta.”When inventory is low like this, it means prices will rise, and inventory will continue to shrink.” Maui’s real estate inventory has declined 11-14% over the last 12 months.

Make of these numbers what you will…A number of readers wrote to tell me they were planning to move to Maui. If you are one of those people, please write and tell me if you found jobs. Shauna?

Other than that, we have drought conditions here on Maui, because it’s been hot, hot,hot with NO rain. I got my haircut today and was talking with my hairstylist, who lives in Haiku. She said that Haiku (rainy, eastern-Maui, jungle) used to only get in the high 70s, and it has consistently been 85 to 87 this past week. She said she is “over summer” and “so tired of being hot!” I concur. As I wrote in a past blog post, statistics now show that Maui is 10° hotter than it was 10 years ago…

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Brief Relief

Aloha!
Regarding my last post about the VOG (volcanic organic gas), and that we’d had unrelenting VOG for 43 days, I wanted to give you an update. Shauna wrote to ask if I had asthma before moving to Hawaii. The answer is no. I’ve written about this in the past, but I really did move to Maui for the “clean” air. So I was shocked to find out that Hawaii has a high incidence of asthma, and particularly the children are at risk. You can check it out at http://www.CDC.gov/asthma/stateprofiles/asthma. An estimated 36,738 children have asthma in Hawaii. Child lifetime asthma prevalence in Hawaii is 18.6%, compared with the 38 participating states rates of 13.3%.

There have also been questions about whether Hawaii is a good place for those with allergies. See also: http://www.allergyclimates.com/2006/06/03/Denver-Hawaii.

I’ve sat in my chiropractor’s office, and listened to parents bringing their children in for adjustments, saying, “I pulled the children out of school today because of the VOG, and they’re doing so poorly, I brought them in for an adjustment.” Many Hawaii schools have open windows and no air conditioning. I spoke with the man who owns Air Filters Hawaii, and he was hired to go to the Big Island and fit the schools over there with air filteration systems for the VOG. I think Maui should be next.

The thing with the VOG is that it’s so in insidious. Most places on the island, you don’t even know it’s there. We can go to downtown Kahului (where the airport is),and not see the VOG at, all because we are IN it. We can go down to Kihei, or to Wailea, on the south part of the island, and it’s the same way. But we come up the mountain and have a view of the valley, and bingo! there it is, hanging over Maui like a gauzy blanket. The shorthand at our house now revolves around the VOG. The question, “Is it thick?” means, is it time to close up all the windows?

I am on the email notification list for the island’s HC&S sugarcane company. This year during our 45 day VOG seige, they would send an email that said they were going to burn in the morning between 4:00am and 6:30am, and then a few hours later another email notification would come, saying “burning suspended due to weather.” They’re not saying due to VOG, but that’s what it means. They canceled the burning so many times I lost track, and the upside to the VOG siege was they were not burning cane. So it’s a choice between VOG and cane-smoke, I guess.

We had a three day VOG reprieve, so we went to the beach. I was so happy to be out of the house I cannot even tell you! However, now I’m thinking I need to do a blog post about “what not to do at the beach.” There was the guy who stood directly in front of me and chain smoked the whole time. Then the guy next to me smoking a cigar. Honestly, people, you can’t do this in your own backyards?

So today the wind is directly out of the south, and the VOG is moving back in. All of our windows are closed, and I am so weary of it, and wonder how long it will last this time. At one point I worked in a law office here on the island, with a large group of women. On voggy days, you could just see the effects all across the office… People with itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and the inability to concentrate. People would think they were coming down with the flu (with the achiness), but it would just be the VOG.

So there’s your report from Paradise today.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the follow button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Jumping the Shark

**Spoiler Alert** If you haven’t yet watched the season premiere of Mad Men and intend to do so, wait to read this. The premiere had 3.4 million viewers. Mad Men swept the best drama category at the Primetime Emmy Awards four
four years running.

Aloha!

Last night’s season premiere of Mad Men opened in Hawaii, so of course it had my full attention. Thanks to Elvis movies (and Bing Crosby’s before him), Hawaii tourism was treated to a perfect storm in the late 1960’s of tourists arriving by droves in ships and planes to spend their hard-earned vacation dollars, and often, to get out of the cold of a mainland winter.

In this season’s opener, Don Draper and wife Megan do just that, as they are in Hawaii checking out a hotel property (Marriott) on Oahu as a possible new client for the ad agency.  Back in New York, Don presents his ad campaign to the guys from Marriott.

(So, I am wondering if you agree with Don’s take on Hawaii….?)

DON: I’ve just come back…and there’s a feeling that’s stayed with me…

MARRIOTT GUY: I’ve been there in the winter–its quite a shock coming back.

DON: Well put, but that could be any vacation. This was very, very different. I think we’re not selling a geographic location–we’re selling an experience. It’s not just a different place–YOU are different. You’d think there’d be an unsettling feeling about something so drastically different, but there’s something else…you don’t miss anything. You’re not homesick.

It puts you in this…state. The air and the water are all the same temperature as your body. It’s sensory. The music, the fragrance, the breeze and the blue…Hawaiian legend has it that the soul can go in and out of the body, but that it usually leaves from a leeward point. (Don shows a sketch of a suit coat, tie, and an abandoned pair of shoes, with bare footprints leading away.) The copy reads:

Hawaii…the jumping-off point.

MARRIOTT: What happened to him?

DON: He got off the plane, took a deep breath, shed his skin and–jumped off.

MARRIOTT (considers this): I think people might think that he died.

DON: Maybe he did, and he went to heaven. Maybe that’s what this feels like.

Okay…so what did you think? Many people seem to feel that being in Hawaii is like dying and going to heaven (albeit without the existential overtones that Don Draper brought to this scene.) When I worked as a concierge and saw hundreds of tourists a month, they would all get the same moony look on their faces in describing coming to Hawaii, or being back in Hawaii.

What do you think that “state” of being is, that Don descibes? Do you think, as he said, that you are different in Hawaii?

Oh, and as far as the title of this post, “Jumping the Shark”…that refers to a Hollywood term (created by Jon Heim) that describes the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins to decline in quality that is beyond recovery, which is usually a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of gimmick in a desperate attempt to keep viewers’ interest.

The phrase “jump the shark” comes from a scene in the fifth season premiere of the TV series Happy Days (Sept. 20, 1977) in which the central characters visit Los Angeles and a water-skiing Fonzie (Henry Winkler) answers a challenge by wearing swim trunks and his trademark leather jacket, and jumps over a confined shark. It is commonly believed that the show began a creative decline as the writers ran out of ideas and Happy Days became a caricature of itself (Wikipedia, Jumping the Shark.)

To me, Mad Men just jumped the shark when Don ended up in bed, yet again, with a woman who was not his wife. Seems to me that Matthew Weiner had himself a boring episode (who IS Sandy, the girl with the violin? And why should we care?) so gave it a jolt at the end to wake us all up after two hours of saying “huh?”

Even paradise couldn’t resuscitate this snooze fest for me. So did you see it? What did you think?

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Patchwork of Life

Aloha!

When people start writing to ask, “Are your okay?” I know it’s time to blog again.

Interesting question… are you okay? Having lost my mother, I have to say it’s hard to realize I will never again pick up the phone and have her be on the other end. She was 77 years old. That would’ve seemed old at one time in my life, but this was a woman who still went to water aerobics three times a week, who went to lunch and the movies with friends every single Friday of her life, no matter what. In fact, three of us went to the movies the evening of my stepfather’s funeral…nothing like a good comedy to ease a transition. Mom was all about enjoying life. (Which begs the question, where are all the good comedies? But that is another post.)

I want to write about the concept of chogak po. I am reading the book “Honolulu” by author Alan Brennert. (I don’t know how this one escaped me; it was published in 2009 and was the winner of “Elle’s” Lettres 2009 Grand Prix for Fiction.) It’s about a Korean woman who travels to Hawaii as a “picture bride” in 1914, but she does not find the life she has been promised, and instead must make her own way in a strange land. Chogak po is the Korean word for patchwork cloth, cobbled together from leftover scraps of material. They have an abstract beauty, but the protagonist asks her mother why she does not make more elegant creations, because she is capable. The mother replies, “When we are young we think life will be like a su po: one fabric, one weave, one grand design. But in truth, life turns out to be more like the patchwork cloth–bits and pieces, odds and ends–people, places, things we never expected, never wanted, perhaps. There is harmony in this, too, and beauty.”

I am trying to see harmony and beauty in my life, at a time when so many things I never saw coming and never wanted to deal with are expected of me. It has been four months since my mother passed away, and I am still wading through the paperwork and making daily phone calls in connection with her business affairs. Who knew?

One bright spot is my friend, Suzanne, who went through this a year before I did, and has been my mentor and guide. There was a time in my life when I was ahead of all of my friends in doing the important things such as buying a house, starting a business, etc. and they were constantly relying on me to guide them through the intricacies of those things. I used to think, “When is it my turn? When do I get someone to explain things to me?” I am just so glad that when it has come down to important decisions such as the timing on when to sell my mom’s house, I have had Suzanne to say, “Take your time…don’t let anyone push you or hurry you. As Executor, you are in control.”

Moving to Maui is much the same as that patchwork Korean cloth. Everyone thinks life here is going to be perfect (it’s Paradise, right?) and they have a grand design in mind when they come. But in truth, it turns out to be full of things no one can understand until they have fully lived here…not just part-timed it, or vacationed here. Vacationing in Maui means hanging out with other tourists and doing tourist things. Living here means reality: understanding pidgin and the local ways. Accepting that everything moves at a glacial speed.

Some things just can’t be fully understood until we’ve lived them ourselves.

A hui hou! Thanks for stopping by…If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the homepage.
Aloha, Jamaica

Be Safe

Be Safe

Aloha!
To all of my readers on the East Coast, I send out a heartfelt wish for your safety and a swift return to normalcy. I hope you are not without power. Be safe!

To those who have opened up a discussion about the tsunami warning in Hawaii, I offer the following thoughts. One reader, TC, happened to be on Maui during the tsunami warning and asked if the level of panic observed is normal here.

When you live on Maui for a while, the enormity of being a spec in the middle of the ocean grows. It feels a bit like being a flea on an elephant. We are the farthest from any landmass of any Archipelago. (Not just Hawaii, but Maui.) For those who have lived through dock strikes, or a hurricane, or a tsunami, it becomes readily apparent how dependent we are on the outside world for absolutely everything, from toilet paper to rice, to bottled water.

A fire alone can shut down the whole west part of the island. I’ve seen it happen. There is no getting in or out, because there is only one road in, and they now close down the northern route so it will not become clogged with people and cut off emergency vehicle access. More than once I had to get a hotel room and sleep on the west side when I couldn’t get home from work, due to a disaster.

People are very attuned to this when authorities say a tsunami is coming. They immediately picture no electricity, no food, no ships getting in with supplies for God knows how long. The thing about a tsunami is that there is essentially no warning. An hour or two maybe, and then it’s a call to evacuate. Tsunamis travel at 500 mph plus-the same speed as a jet. There is little response time, no planning ahead.

Mike was a fireman on Oahu for 12 years and amazingly, spent less time fighting fires than he he did rescuing people from the ocean, and on occasion, from big waves washing over people’s houses. That’s just what the North Shore is like in the winter time. He says the level of panic of people fleeing during a tsunami warning also has to do with responsibility. Responsible people realize that if they don’t act, they are jeopardizing the life of someone else (such as Mike) who must then come in and rescue them.

One disconcerting fact that came out during the news reports on television for this tsunami warning: there are no buoys between Hawaii and the mainland. None. So when the earthquake struck Canada and reverberated out, they had nothing to look at to check the rising tide between us and them. So we had to prepare for the worst.

The following facts are from this good website: http://ptwc.weather.gov/faq.php#6

1. How fast do tsunamis travel?
Tsunami wave speed is controlled by water depth. Where the ocean is over 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) deep, unnoticed tsunami waves can travel at the speed of a commercial jet plane, over 800 km per hour (500 miles per hour). Tsunamis travel much slower in shallower coastal waters where their wave heights begin to increase dramatically.

2. What does a tsunami look like when it reaches the shore?
As the leading edge of a tsunami wave approaches shore, it slows dramatically due to the shallower water. However, the trailing p art of the wave can still be moving rapidly in the deeper water. This results in a “piling up” of the tsunami energy, and the tsunami wave height grows. The wave looks and acts like giant river of water on top of the ocean that floods the shore.

3. Where and how often do tsunamis usually occur?
Major tsunamis occur about once per decade. Based on historical data, about 59% of the world’s tsunamis have occurred in the Pacific Ocean, 25% in the Mediterranean Sea, 12% in the Atlantic Ocean, and 4% in the Indian Ocean.

Stay safe, and treasure each day. If you are a reader on the East Coast, please let me know you’re okay!

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica