Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I was out in town today and I can tell you that I won the Katrina contest by a long shot. My yard has the most debris by a wide margin.

Last night the wind blew and the rain fell. When the power went off about 11:30, I decided it was time for bed. It came on sometime during the night and I think I even turned the TV on but I can't be sure of that.

This morning I am left with a yard full of leaves and twigs and small branches and one large one.

I have tried since Sunday to call my relatives in south Mississippi but I can't get anyone. The TV pictures are horrible. I hope the ones living in New Orleans and Pascagoula left.

Sandersville is the small town north of Laurel where most of my relatives live. I did learn somewhere that the oil refinery there is shut down and that highway 11 that runs through it is closed.

Also highway 49 and the interstate from Meridian to the coast is shut. They hope to be able to open one lane of traffic on the interstate tomorrow to allow emergency vehicles to go to the coast.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

This will definitely be my last year going to Mississippi State football games.

I got one of those mass emailings from State this week. It mentioned new parking and traffic regulations for this fall. I went to the referred website to check it out.

Almost all of the previously free parking is now $10. I usually park in that day students' parking lot in that big hole behind the laundry. It is now $10. That lot is a long way from the stadium but now there is no free place that is within reasonable walking distance.

I will probably park across 82 in the technology center parking lot and take the free shuttle. The Sparrows usually park there, too.

Here is where I am supposed to say it isn't about the money, but I once read and I do believe that when people say that it always is about the money.

By the time I pay for my tickets, gas at $2.60/gallon, etc., it is an expensive afternoon and I don't want to pay any more.

But also this has been a slow death from a thousand cuts, and this cut is just too much. Last year I was humiliated by being defeated by Vanderbilt. (Forgive me, Manuels.) I had planned this elaborate and expensive weekend, and then get to see Vanderbilt run all over us. I could not take it. And worse, Ole Miss continues to beat us.

I hesitated and hesitated this spring over whether to buy tickets this year. I finally did because I thought not buying should be the positive decision. If I didn't know for sure, I should go ahead and buy them because if I did not I lose my good seats.

The parking situation just seems to be the final sign. It really hurt. When the alumni magazine came this week, I cried and threw it in the trash without reading it.

Maybe 40 years after I graduated, it is right for that part of my life to be over.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Tips for traveling to Hawaii

1. The shuttle from the airport to your hotel or hotel to airport will be $8. If you can put your luggage on your lap, you can ride the bus for $2.

2. You can also go on the bus just about anywhere for $2. Bus to Pearl Harbor is no. 42.

3. Car rental for trip around the island is about $45. Don't go on the weekend because the beaches are crowded then with locals.

4. Food is more expensive than here. They do have McDonald's, Burger King, etc. at Waikiki. Cheap sandwiches, etc., at ABC Stores. Try the Food Court at AlaMoana Shopping Center for all the Asian food at decent prices.

5. I enjoyed walking around and looking at the windows of the famous, expensive stores. They mainly serve Japanese custormers. Gucci, Bulgari, Tiffany, Cartier, Fendi, and others have stores there.

6. There is a museum on the second floor of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider that covers the early history of tourism in Waikiki. The Moana was the first hotel built there.

The Father Damien museum was closed for renovation when we were there. He worked among the lepers at the colony of Molokai.

Both museums are free.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My firm opinions on Waikiki hotels

Based on staying at five different hotels there, I believe

1) If you can afford to stay at a hotel directly on the beach and have a room with a balcony facing the beach, do it.

2) If you cannot afford the balcony facing the beach, do not bother with a hotel directly on the beach. I have been in the Sheraton Waikiki, which is on the beach, and it takes longer to get from a room to the elevator bank than it does for me to get from my room at the Hawaiiana to the ABC store across the street, which is halfway to the beach. And the Hawaiiana is 1/3 the cost of the Sheraton.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village may be worse. It is directly on the beach but it is 22 acres and has over 3,000 rooms. I believe I can get to the beach from the Hawaiiana faster than the large majority of people staying at the HHV.

3) Room quality requirements vary tremendously among people. Beth and I have no standard. The Hawaiiana is worn out, even shabby, and we loved it.

4) We had a small kitchen at the Hawaiiana. This was much handier than I had ever imagined. For example, we ate at the Cheesecake Factory. My meal was so big that I took home most of it in a doggie bag. I was able to heat it up in the microwave and it provided me with two more meals.

5) The swankier hotels seem to have the weakest TV channel selection. The Hawaiiana had the best I have ever had. I was able to watch All My Children at night on the SoapNet channel.

6) Thomas Sowell says (and I would never argue with anything he says) that 4 star hotels are better than 5 stars. He contends that 4 stars are just 5 stars without the attitude. In this vein, the Sheraton Moana Surfrider is better than the Hulekilani.

The torture of riding coach

Of the six legs of airtravel I had going to Hawaii, only the one from Chicago to Nashville was not completely full. That is the only one where my row of three had an empty seat. I was the very last person to get on that Southwest flight and I still got a window seat.

I admit it is an agony riding coach on long distance flights. I get along fine on short flights. If I were rich, I would still go coach on continental flights but I would upgrade on flights over water, to Hawaii or Europe.

At Nashville when I checked in, I found I was getting no frequent flyer credit. The leg to Chicago was on Southwest and the rest from Chicago to Honolulu was on ATA. They code share with Southwest but do not share frequent flyer credit so I could not get full credit on Southwest. Then the nice ticket agent tried to give me at least credit for the Chicago leg but the computer would not let her. Bummer.

These flights went through Chicago Midway. I had never been to Midway before. It is a nice little airport but Ken says it used to be sort of shabby.
This is the old airport that is close to downtown and I think they wanted to close it one time. Now Southwest is there and they have more flights and they seem to have fixed it up. I had never connected the two but I found out that it is name in honor of the men at the battle of Midway from World War II.

On the way to Hawaii my plane stopped in San Francisco and I was able to get out and walk a while. That helped. Beth flew from Houston to Honolulu. That was a long flight.

On the flight from SF to Honolulu I had interesting people on both sides of me. A middle-aged man was reading an old book Alex By Frank DeFord, the story of his daughter's illness and death from, I think, cystic fibrosis. I found out that the man sells books on Half.com, where I now buy almost all my books.

On the other side was Jeff Lee, from Seattle, a young man with the most understanding wife. She is pregnant with their first child but let him go to Hawaii for a bachelors' party.

Hawaiiana Hotel

After arriving in Hawaii about 9:30 at night, I splurged and took a taxi to the hotel.

The taxi went by H2, the interstate highway in Hawaii. Yes, they do have interstates in Hawaii, although there are no states to connect to. Got to get that federal money, you know.

I was used to going by Nimitz Highway and missed it. I don't know why because we went that way when we took the shuttle back to the airport. Nimitz is very industrial and not scenic. No reason to feel nostalgic about that.

I arrived at the Hawaiiana Hotel on Beachwalk Street. The desk clerk gave me a key but also called Beth and told her "Your mama is here!" I thought that was cute.

Our room at the Hawaiiana was on the second floor of a concrete block building. The galley kitchen had some cabinets, a counter-high refrigerator, two burners, and a microwave.

The room itself had a double bed and a twin, plus three chairs, a table, an end table, and a dresser. The bath had only a shower.

Everything was worn out and rather shabby, but that is what you get for $89 in Waikiki. Oh, I do think the carpet was rather new.

They have remodeled some rooms and for those they charge $225.

Beth and I have no standards so we were happy with out choice.

The grounds are fantastic with all the tropic plants. Flowers drip everywhere. There are two small pools.

Right now there is a lot of construction on Lewers Street, the next street over, so that adds to the usual busy hum of Waikiki. Also the air conditioner in our room was loud.

The ocean was about a block and a half away. Kalakaua Avenue, the main drag, was half a block the other way.

In Hawaii they do not say North, South, East, or West. They use Hawaiian words meaning toward the sea, toward the mountains, toward Diamond Head, and away from Diamond Head. The words for toward the sea and toward the mountains both start with M, contain a K, and then have all those vowels in them. I never am able to remember which is which.

The use of those words is so common that outside one hotel I saw some big valves that were labeled with the words meaning toward the sea and toward the mountains.

News from Hawaii

One big Hawaiian story while we were there is the use of the shaka sign among Hawaiian National Guard in Iraq.

The shake is a hand signal meaning hang loose, hello, and a bunch of other good things. The Hawaiian troops had been using the sign freely over there to the delight of troops from other states.

Unfortunately a sentry used the shaka sign when a general went by in a car and now they have been forbidden to use the sign at all now.

I understand about military discipline and know that a salute would have been more appropriate but they should not have banned the sign completely.

Another story was about wildfires in the inland part of Oahu.

The most controversial story was and is about the court ruling about the King Kamehameha schools.

A Hawaiian princess left ther estates to be used for the education of Hawaiian youth. Today that trust is worth almost $7 billion. Hawaii is like Britain, unfortunately, and many people do not own the land under the houses they own. It is leased for 100 years, and a lot of it is from this Bishop Trust.

The estate supports schools for only children of native Hawaiian descent. The Appeals Court ruled that that is illegal.

Several decades ago there was an parallel case in, I think, Baltimore where someone had left money to run a school for white boys. That got struck down, of course.

There is a bill in Congress to make Native Hawaiians to have rights like American Indians.

I feel that most of us are second rate citizens. American Indians are the first rate citizens because they have all the rights I have but some more besides that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I am in Nashville tonight preparing to go to Hawaii.

George, Adam, and Emma and I had a good day.

Emma is so stubborn and has gotten in a bad habit of getting her way by sulking and whining. I didn't want to put up with that all day so the day didn't start off good. I sent her to her room and told her not to come out till she had a better attitude. It took an hour and a half but when she finally came out for good things went well the rest of the day.

She came out twice but had a whinny voice so I sent her back. She had Goerge bring me a note that said

To Who Who from Emma

I'm still in my room. I gess I will be in here the holl day and all (she means I'll) not get anything to eat.

We read poems in the morning. One had the word aid in it and I explained that it meant help. George said: You mean we should run down the road yelling Aid! Aid!

They played most of the afternoon with the two boys across the street, Jacob and Johua. Joshua is in the second grade, too. He will be in the boys class this year. Jacob is probably two years older.

They spent some time playing among the rocks in the back of the Ruckers' house. Emma told me that she and Joshua found a bone. They believed it had a skeleton there and they were going to dig it up. Joshua believed it to be that of an Indian but Emma thinks it is a dinosaur. In any case Emma says that if a museum wants the skeleton they will have to pay her $1,000.

Tonight we went over to the pool and Ken worked on teaching the little ones to dive. They made good progress but the boys enjoying most doing cannonballs off the diving board but agreed that Daddymade the biggest splash.

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