Our Maui Condo Connection

About an hour ago I booked a tentative reservation at HawaiiConnection.com. Within 5 minutes of submitting, res manager Ed called me to say the email was on its way. WOW. Service!
Hawaii Connection

Thank you for visiting the Hawaii Connection web site. Our company was founded in 1978 and 2009 celebrates our 31st year in business. We represent more than 125 condominiums and hotels on the four major Islands in Hawaii of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Our website utilizes advanced pricing technology so that you will always receive the best rate, promotions and offers available.

When you call us, you will be talking with a specialist who has visited the properties and has first-hand knowledge of the properties. In 2009, our specialists average almost 14 years of experience each so you can always find someone who can answer a question from first-hand experience.

Our company has served hundreds of thousands of our loyal customers over the past 31 years in Hawaii. Since we were asked to take our first reservation back in 1978, we strive every day to make sure that the Hawaii condo, hotel or suite that you are booking will allow you to have a memorable vacation and book with us again next year.

I’ve used this website, www.hawaiiconnection.com, at least 4 or 5 times in the past to book my own vacation condo rentals. I haven’t been in vacation travel in nearly a decade, but I would totally use this site for my bookings if I were. It may look old-school with lots of text and small photos, but it’s fast, easy to use, and a snap if you really know your clientele and have a good grasp of Hawaiian hotel and condo properties, locations, and relative comparisons. They don’t require a deposit right away, although we will have to be under deposit within 10 days and prepay in full at least 45 days prior.

ALL PAYMENTS FOR ALL CONDOMINIUMS, HOTELS AND CAR RENTALS MUST BE MADE TO HAWAII CONNECTION (NOT to the properties). Payment can be by check (only if received 21 or more days in advance), certified check or by credit card. We offer a 3% discount for payment by check. Please deduct the 3% discount when sending payment. We will need a signature before we can disburse vouchers. Late booking fees may apply. Vouchers can only be mailed to the address of record of the credit card holder.

Cancellation policies vary widely with each property. A good general rule is a three night cancellation penalty. We will let you know at the time of booking if a stricter penalty is enforced. A full refund of all monies paid is generally available if cancellation is made 45 days prior to scheduled arrival (Christmas holiday period by October 1). No shows and early departure refunds are solely at the discretion of the management companies. Condominium programs, however, are NOT like hotel programs in that the condominium that has been reserved for you has been set aside. The owner of the unit depends on the reservations for his unit income, and the management company may be required by contractual agreement with the owner to offer no refund. All refund decisions by us are final.

They offer a 3% discount to anyone paying in full by check rather than credit card – nothing to sneeze at if you are staying long-term. Popular properties, even in this economy, can book out far in advance of prime whale-watching season. I’ll know more about cancellation policies for the property we’ve selected (actually, that we’ve stayed at before) once I get the confirmation email.

Which, holy cow, has already arrived. Very impressive. I think that if I can swing the vacation bid process to convince my teammates at work to let me have the dates (I will let them know we’ll have to be under deposit) this may work. Problem is, I’m the last person to go through the bid process as the newest member of my relatively small team, so I’ll have to get their cooperation for this to work.

But, with luck, we’ll be Maui-bound in February. And as the weather this year has been cool and wet, the local lore seems to forecast a really cold and wet winter.

We went to a really fun event last night at a friend’s home – he and his girlfriend had a luau theme party and it was a great time. This, naturally, motivated me to check availability and get a gut-check; our favorite condo property wasn’t showing any availability for the time we wanted to be there on the first few sites I checked. But then I fell back on HawaiiConnection.com and of course they had the space (they must block space or something, they always have space at a selection of reasonable properties).

And of course, I did the whole thing on the iPhone. This technology still continues to amaze me.

The Station For Music Geeks

@93XRT just played two excellent songs bookending a great Lin’s Bin podcast celebrating their station manager’s 30th anniversary. I just wish Shazam’s iPhone app could send custom tweets.

WXRT – 8/28/09: Norm’s Anniversary

There doesn’t seem to be a way to customize the tweets when using the Shazam iPhone app – I wish I could vary the text from “I used Shazam to discover…” And so, I won’t be using Shazam to send tweets very often, because frequent, robotic auto-posts get really annoying really fast.

Shorts And Sports Sandals

Flickr

… they’re the American uniform at home and abroad.

UPDATE: Just wanted to add what inspired this:

And Far Away | Footwear that should be burned and buried

The way American tourists dress drives me crazy. Khaki shorts, worn-out and drab-colored t-shirt (or shirt), and the infamous sandlas, often with socks. Damn. It’s as if this “uniform” comes stamped out with their visas. I’ve never been to the US so I don’t know if that’s how they dress in their daily lives, but I sure hope not.

Yes, well, many Americans dress like this in our daily lives, because it’s easy, cheap, and comfortable. I was amused by And Far Away’s post, because it was totally true and funny. I actually wore khaki shorts to work today with those gawd-awful green Tevas, because we’re pretty casual at my office (especially in summer). As it happens, I was glad I had some water-friendly shoes on as I left (ON TIME for the first time this week) as it was raining pretty hard.

It actually felt nice to be out in shorts and sandals on a warm, wet evening. I got rain between my toes and thought about how fun it would be to run around without the umbrella, and just stomp in puddles like a little kid without a care. This propensity by Americans to run around stomping in puddles like a little kid without a care has gotten us into trouble before (see Bride, The Princess: Land War in Asia).

Not all of us can be fashionable people. Our neighbors to the North, Canada, routinely go out wearing much more stylish clothing than we do, especially on summer weekends, even before nightfall! Yet we Americans do not -we will go out to dinner so casually dressed that no one will look twice as we show up at a restaurant in what charitably could be described as “leisure” wear. I myself can’t stand to shop for clothes, and have very, VERY limited options in my closet for “dressing up.” So I “go casual” because it’s a lot less stress, angst, and self-loathing.

See those lumpy, bolsterlike structures up above my shoes and below my shorts? Those, my friends and robots, are my knees. Below them, if you care to look, are my cankles. There’s really no point in spending a lot of money on attractive shoes that draw attention to one’s cankles, is there? Especially if high arches require orthotic supports be worn in order to avoid extra foot, knee, and back pain. Sure, I’m now in my second week of avoiding processed sugar, reducing portions, and drinking lots of water. And I had a good workout last night at the health club, walked 2 miles with no major foot problems. So maybe I’ll be able to improve the look of my cankles with weight loss in a few months, and think about buying something nice to wear. Maybe.

I do have some nice slacks and tops that I bought for last year’s England/Ireland trip, and in fact I didn’t take a pair of jeans with me. Which is TOTALLY WEIRD, if you ask me. And then on a recent weekend trip, I once again didn’t take a pair of jeans. But I did take khaki shorts (sure, they’re big and roomy, and comfortable to walk in). And I took the Tevas, because they have some arch support as they’re built on a kind of hard-shelled chassis. My feet start to ache if I wear the older pair, the ones with soft soles and no support.

So I’m afraid that I, at least, will continue to wear the American leisure uniform of Fashion Slack. After being traumatized by watching too many episodes of What Not To Wear that never featured pear-shaped be-cankled women such as myself, I concluded that there’s just no point in bothering with fashion when you’re up against a multitude of competing figure faults in a weird size that’s too big for regular size clothing but too small for “queen size.” Comfort rules! Although I do avoid unflattering clothing as much as possible (I took that much away from WNTW), I just won’t wear uncomfortable shoes, no matter how fashionable they may be.

Like And Far Away, I think extra-long, extra-pointy shoes for either women or men are just one big steaming pile of NO. The examples from there were entertaining, but I recently encountered shoes too bizarre for real life:

NNSL Booths_030

See, I actually own an outfit a lot like this in Second Life – short plaid skirt, kitty tail and ears, braided hair. It’s kind of a common look on SL, that I like to call “Neko Schoolgirl.” I do like to dress up more in SL, because it’s…

wait for it…

… cheap, easy, and comfortable. You just click on an item, or a folder of items, in your game inventory, and presto! you’re wearing different clothes (or sometimes a body of a different species). It’s fun “shopping” for stuff to wear or attach (I don’t mean anything like THOSE sort of attachments).

But what is with those crazy instruments of torture on her feet?? They’re like platform shoes gone ballistic, or ballet shoes with buttresses. That’s just… so very wrong. Also, the claws and crouching pose are slightly disturbing.

Strangely though… I don’t think I’ve ever seen truly baggy khaki shorts and virtual Tevas for sale in Second Life, even in the most American of shops. Guess we’re not willing to look like slobs if it’s just as cheap, easy and comfortable to be stylish.

Ginny

I can has iPhone?

Via: Flickr
Title: Shorts And Sports Sandals
By: GinnyRED57
Originally uploaded: 19 Aug ’09, 7.10pm CDT PST

Endlessly Seeking The New New

We are a globeful of dopamine addicts. We endlessly seek and never find the newest new thing.

Slate: Seeking

Seeking. You can’t stop doing it. Sometimes it feels as if the basic drives for food, sex, and sleep have been overridden by a new need for endless nuggets of electronic information. We are so insatiably curious that we gather data even if it gets us in trouble. Google searches are becoming a cause of mistrials as jurors, after hearing testimony, ignore judges’ instructions and go look up facts for themselves. We search for information we don’t even care about. Nina Shen Rastogi confessed in Double X, “My boyfriend has threatened to break up with me if I keep whipping out my iPhone to look up random facts about celebrities when we’re out to dinner.” We reach the point that we wonder about our sanity. Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times said she became so obsessed with Twitter posts about the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest that she spent days “refreshing my search like a drugged monkey.”

We actually resemble nothing so much as those legendary lab rats that endlessly pressed a lever to give themselves a little electrical jolt to the brain. While we tap, tap away at our search engines, it appears we are stimulating the same system in our brains that scientists accidentally discovered more than 50 years ago when probing rat skulls.

After mulling that over from yesterday, as I trudged upstairs scrolling through my Google Reader feed and Twitter feeds (real, virtual, and feline) on the iPhone 3GS that’s become grafted to my body, I thought about how I’d spent the evening. I was in Second Life, watching a live webcast from the Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh in a separate screen as I sat “inworld” chatting with fellow travelers in both open and private channels. At the same time, I was going through some recent images I took on SL, deleting the culls and uploading the keepers to my avatar’s Flickr stream (which I keep separate from “real” photos on my “real” Flickr stream). Also simultaneously with this, while waiting for former Pres. Clinton to make the keynote address, I was listening to a music channel in the background, while listening to other speakers make their points for progressive change from the “netroots.” This music was either Internet radio playing in WinAmp, or a live musician singing blues standards “inworld” before somebody else was supposed to appear in a streamed audio chat (this was supposed to be the founder of Daily Kos, but there were technical issues).

As I noted all the things I was multitasking in public chat, I quipped “…too much?”

Came back the reply, “Not until you crash.”

So I thought about that after Second Life inevitably crashed on me, probably due to so many people then in attendance at both Netroots in Second Life, and SL’s own annual conference in San Francisco logging in to tell all their friends what well-known “avatarbrities” (I just totally made that up) look like in real life after the panel discussions were over.

Then, after work was over, I walked to the elevator reading my feed, read it on the way down, read it in a downstairs loo, read it walking out to the car, and read it in the car waiting for the air conditioning to cool off the interior. And shared, and shared, and shared. Because I had stuff, you see, stuff that I had read and approved of that other people might like to see, because it was new stuff to them. And then I ran across something that made me stop and actually slow down and think about what I was reading, rather than merely consuming in “speed-read” mode (I am a fast reader, and also I have always had a tendency towards hyperfocus).

As a recovering former Utahn, I keep an eye on anything counter-cultural coming out of Zion, which is why I happen to have Salt Lake’s entertaining City Weekly blog in my feed:

Exurbia Recast

A design competition tries to reinvent the suburban wasteland with flying ships and big box gardens. What they really need is as simple as a gin and tonic.

Big house. Vinyl siding. Manicured lawn. Two-car garage, maybe three. Backyards to hide from neighbors. Faux brick front.

Pavement for miles. Parking lots. Stores with acreage of stuff. Stuff to eat, stuff to build, stuff to consume, stuff to waste.

Work in the city. Drive on the interstate. Eat in the chain. Home. Rinse. Repeat.

Suburbia spreads like bindweed, one interconnected, land-swallowing swath of humanity. Beige blooms in the brown desert while its denizens stare at high-definition television shows about life in paradise. They bought their homes to live the American Dream, and spend the rest of their lives dreaming of escape.

Escape they will, fleeing to the latest and newest refuge. Maybe it’s the “green” subdivision with colorful houses, maybe it’s the high-rise condominiums with restaurants on the ground floor and a freeway entrance within walking distance. Maybe it’s a boat, a cabin, an RV. Or maybe it’s similar more of the same, super-sized.

America is a very young country, as anybody who has ever visited Europe can attest. Many Europeans have houses that are older than America, yet we as Americans search for everything new. We created a democratic civilization built with the most adaptable legal document ever created, yet we cannot adapt as a people to minor nuisances. Need four outlets in every room instead of the one in that 50-year old house? Buy a new house. Ipod adapter in the car because you cannot listen to the radio? Buy a new car? Bored with the long-standing cafe run by your neighbor? Hey, there’s an In N’ Out burger opening!

This ceaseless need to fulfill every want and desire has a number of negative impacts, most of them on a person’s soul. But there are also smaller ones, such as the eventual desertion of the existing new for the New New. That leaves behind empty homes, deserted lots, and discarded shopping malls. Eventually, something will have to be done with them.

Jesus.

Well, that was exactly what I didn’t want when we were buying this house, and that is exactly what we ended up with given our budget and our geographic location, jobs, and so on. I live that life, schlepping through grey suburbia all year and consuming images of more attractive, scenic or inspiring locales via television, movies, photographs, or total online immersion.  We don’t regret our decision buying our home, but I do regret that we’re not in a tree-lined, charmingly old-fashioned small-town looking suburb with rail service and bike paths within walking distance — that ws completely out of the question in our price range. We made a good decision after really looking hard for a long time.

A week ago, my husband David and I went looking for a new desktop computer for me. I had expressed a vague desire to have a better Second Life experience, and we thought we had grabbed a system off the shelf that had the right hardware for such things… but in a fit of consumerist confusion, I said (stupidly) that I thought a computer with an Intel logo would do fine, because it’s a brand name.

::facepalm:: Jesus.

So we grabbed this one box, after almost grabbing some other box. Which would have had a more powerful video graphics card tailor made for the online 3D experience, actually (not a hardcore gaming system, still pretty low-end). We took this one box home and loaded it up with a few programs that I like or use and got bookmarks set up and cleaned my desk and vacuumed and all that, and then I logged in to Second Life and realized my error. David had noticed as we opened the box that it wasn’t quite the right computer we’d started to buy, but oh, I just had to get it started up, so… yeah. And what with one thing and another, it’s now pretty much impossible (and embarassing) to return because I took a few days to realize that I’d have to leave my SL settings on “minimum quality” for pretty much ever if I didn’t want my experience to slow to the speed of an old-fashioned travelogue with slides, or a film strip, and in the meantime I’d gotten it all set up nice and pretty and bonded with it over the pretty, pretty Aero (glassy, flashy graphics). All because I didn’t print out the system requirements page and take it with me…

And yet on the other hand, for everything else I do with it other than Second Life, it’s fast, and powerful, and makes 2D images and videos look gorgeous. Games are gorgeous as long as the action is flat. It looks and feels great, and it happened to get a great review at C/NET, a site we’ve both come to trust because of their little “Hello, TiVo people” tech gadgetry review show. I’ll be able to take a lot of photos, and slide the compact flash card or one of several different kinds of storage media or cables into a handy little port right on the front, hidden under a little door when not in use. It’ll really be great, for everything other than Second Life. For that, it’ll be adequate, but not visually stunning.  A previous post about the new computer got automatically reposted on Facebook, and a friend immediately commented “Upgrade to Windows 7 NOW!!!”

So then I started looking into fixing my error by perhaps upgrading the video on the new machine, which turned into a big mess because this thing on my desk is a sleek, slim little beast, and there are very, very few options for what’s called a “small form factor (SFF)” system, especially one that has a very low power profile. I’d have to crack open a brand new computer just to add an itty bitty viddy card (only $59.99 after rebate!), and upgrade the power supply (only $29.99) literally “to boot.”

Unless… hey, wait, this guy has the same computer, and he got an nVdia 9500 GT PCIe low profile card to run… after a ridiculous amount of swapping to save on power demands.

Good God, brand new machine and I’m still endlessly seeking the new new gadget to make it into what I should have bought in the first place.

But enough about that, time to play Mahjong Titans, it looks and sounds so purdy… after making sure the title and first few lines of this post are under Twitter’s 140-character limit, that is.

What’s For Dinner? Circassian Chicken, Apparently

Need to get chicken stock, this looks good!
Circassian Chicken
Recipe
| Simply Recipes

Circassian Chicken Recipe
INGREDIENTS
2 full chicken breasts (both halves)
4 tablespoons olive or walnut oil
4 teaspoons paprika
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
3 chopped garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 slices of bread, crusts removed
1 quart chicken stock
Salt
Black pepper
The juice of a lemon
METHOD
1 Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and add the chicken breasts. Add some water if there is not enough liquid to cover the meat. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
2 Meanwhile, heat the olive or walnut oil in a small pot over low heat and add the paprika. Stir well to combine. Heat until you can smell the aroma of the paprika, then turn off the heat.
3 Tear the bread into chunks and put into a bowl. Ladle out about a cup or two of the chicken broth and pour it over the bread.
4 Set aside ½ cup of walnuts and put in a bowl with the green onions and 1 tablespoon of the parsley.
5 Put the rest of the walnuts into a food processor with the garlic, the cayenne, about a teaspoon of salt, the rest of the parsley and the soaked bread. Buzz to make a thick, relatively chunky paste. If it needs a bit more chicken broth to loosen up, add some a tablespoon at a time.
6 Stir the paprika-oil, then pour it into the food processor and buzz to combine. Taste the mixture to see if it needs salt.
7 Pull the skin off the chicken breasts and tear the meat into shreds. Put it in the bowl with the unchopped walnuts, green onions and such.
8 Add the walnut-paprika paste from the food processor to the bowl and stir gently to combine everything thoroughly. Add black pepper and lemon juice to taste and stir one more time to combine.
Serves 4-6 as a lunch.

Worldview examines the Iranian election | Chicago Public Radio Blog

Listen to @WBEZ Worldview for discussion on Iran and Twitter, they quote an Iranian via IM who dared not call in via cell phone. Worldview examines the Iranian election | Chicago Public Radio Blog

Coming up at noon Worldview is doing a show on the Iranian election. Of course you should listen closely to what Jerome and his guests have to say, but Twitter has played such a huge part in this story that you probably ought to check out what’s being discussed there.

I heard this at lunch and it was worth a listen. Visit the page for many media links!

BBC NEWS | UK | Javelin train speeds from London

BBC NEWS | UK | Javelin train speeds from London

Rail travellers have been whisked out of London at 140mph for the first time on a special preview trip on board a new Japanese-built “Javelin” train.

When will we ever get this kind of rail service in the States? Sure won’t have it if Chicago gets the Olympics (and now it appears Daley now promises taxpayer funding on the inevitable cost overrun).

FAQ: How to get an iPhone 3G S on Friday

Hmm. We’re getting ours shipped… hope this means we’ll get them on time.

FAQ: How to get an iPhone 3G S on Friday

When does the iPhone 3G S go on sale? In the U.S., Apple’s retail stores open their doors on Friday, June 19, at 8 a.m. local time. AT&T’s retail stores will open an hour earlier, at 7 a.m. local time, but only for people who pre-ordered via the Web or at a store. According to The Boy Genius Report, AT&T had sold out its pre-order allotment by Saturday, June 13, and any subsequent pre-orders won’t be shipped to a local store for pick-up until seven to 14 days after the order date.

AT&T will let customers who didn’t pre-order into its stores starting at 8 a.m. local time.

Best Buy and Wal-Mart, the other two outlets selling iPhones, will open at their usual business hours on Friday.

We All Mourn

Flickr

Ginny
I can has iPhone?
Via: Flickr
Title: We All Mourn
By: GinnyRED57
Originally uploaded: 10 Jun ’09, 8.15pm CDT PST

Inspired by Pollster.com’s post This is Personal

Pop was having none of it. He walked away from me and wandered up to the museum staffer standing at the head of the long line leading to the elevators that takes all visitors to the museum exhibits. I thought for a moment that Pop was going to ask directions. I was wrong.

He thrust out his arm in the direction of the staffer, displaying the number the Nazis tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz just a few inches from her face. Without making eye-contact and barely breaking stride, Pop kept walking. Understandably, the staffer barely blinked. She didn’t make a move to stop him.

Pop kept walking right into the elevator that had just filled with the visitors that had been waiting in that long line. And even though the elevator was already quite crowded, he walked right in. Jake and I had to run past the guard to catch up. “Pop, Pop,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed, hoping to talk him into at least waiting for the next elevator.

The staffer inside the elevator must have heard me, because he smiled, held the door and said with smile, “We have room for Pop. You guys too. C’mon in.”

And up we went. I have been to the Holocaust Museum many times, but none as memorable as that visit.

About a month ago, in a conscious effort to carry on her father’s tradition and to commemorate his birthday, my wife Helen paid her own solo visit to the Museum. She arrived at the end of a busy work day, in a rush, just a few minutes before closing time. Unfortunately, given the late hour, they had run out of the candles usually provided in the Hall of Remembrance for visitors to light and leave in the niches of the outer walls.

Already feeling emotional — her dad had passed away just six months before — she broke down sobbing.

A staffer nearby immediately came to her assistance, asking if she needed help. She explained, and the gentleman asked her to wait. He soon returned with a candle, explaining with a conspiratorial wink that he kept his own special supply for such emergencies.

The guards and staff at the Holocaust Museum have a special duty. The do more than just protect and operate one of Washington’s many heavily trafficked museums. On a daily basis, they help open the doors to the elderly survivors of the atrocities of World War II. As my stories attest, they do it with a remarkable degree of kindness and professionalism.

As far as I know, the Holocaust Museum personnel that we encountered were not armed guards, though it is possible they were. But when I heard about the shooting this afternoon, and more specifically that at least one of the victims is a security guard now apparently in critical condition, it struck very close to home.

This is personal.

As far as I am concerned, the staff members of the Holocaust Museum are part of our family and the Museum itself is hallowed ground, and we pray for the recovery of the wounded guard. “Never take your guard force and security people for granted,” William Parsons, the museum’s chief of staff said on television a few minutes ago. Our family never will.

A very sad update: MSNBC just reported that the guard, Officer Steven Tyrone Johns, has passed away. We are all mourners tonight.


UPDATE: As usual, Pam nails it. Check below the jump for a visit to last year’s wingnut charade as it played out during the Presidential election and after.