Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thoughts from a Facebook discussion... enjoy.

Sometimes I get into (or stir up) debates on Facebook.  It helps me figure out what I really think and believe. Sometimes it even changes my views.  My friend Jeff Wilbur is a great guy to debate with, because he's very opinionated and always has great rationale for his views.  In fact, he has caused me to reshape my views a time or two.  Still, I tend agree with my own views more (duh, cause they're my views), and so I tend to think my own comments are awesomer, especially in terms of made-up words.

Anyway, Jeff helped me realize that my point of view on gay marriage is definitely founded in the gospel, and that's why it's so easy to ridicule: I can't prove the gospel.  It is pretty presumptuous of me to tell someone else, "You can't do that" when I have no proof that it's actually harmful.  Nevertheless, it is harmful, especially in an eternal sense.  Well, okay, fine then, let them "harm" themselves.  God gave us agency!  And so the debate goes.

Eventually I came up with this summary/explanation of why I would vote against gay marriage.  My rationale is based upon eternal principles that I know to be true, but cannot prove.  Sigh.  Now I'm going to be called names.  "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad."  I'll try.

Undermining or changing societal norms hinders self-determination in that a person's moral views are greatly influenced by their environment, and we are constantly shaping the next generation's environment. Thus, we are manipulating the next generation's point of view and self-determination by actively (or idly) shaping our society.

Sending a memory-wiped spirit to a society that views the commandments as optional (or laughable) would greatly hinder God's children from determining to follow Him. By standing idly by as morals are generally ignored, we neglect the environment wherein God's children will begin their mortal lives.

I'm not saying it's up to me to tell people how to raise their children. We can teach our kids whatever we want in our homes. But if there's an item on the ballot that can either make our society more conducive to the acceptance of the gospel (including the commandments), or make the gospel seem outdated (including the commandments), I'll go with the one that will be more likely to have positive eternal effects on the next generation, even if my neighbor (or I, for that matter) wants to break the commandments anyway.

As an analogy, children in Utah are free to be Sacramento Kings fans, but that is rarely the case because of popular opinion in their environment. If being a Kings fan could bring eternal happiness, then I would want to raise my kids in Sacramento, even though I can teach them about the Kings myself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

An email to my dad.

My dad emailed me some wicked shots of my littlest brother Brian playing football today! YAY!!! I miss going to my brothers games so much. It was something we did all the time as a family. So I responded with the following email. ...The weather here is starting to get rainy again. It was WAY rainy in March and then stopped and hardly ever rained in July or August. Now we have had two rainy days in a row WOOT! WOOT! (which means I don't die of heat) Right now I am at a girls house in our ward. She had a baby about 7 weeks ago and is suffering really bad from post pardom depression. She also has been getting panic attacks on top of the depression so she does not sleep at all. The Relief Society sent around a sign up sheet to have women come and help her while her husband is at work. Poor thing. I can relate to the depression part, but on top of is she is dealing with just having had a baby! YIKES. But I'm grateful to have a new friend and to be able to help out how I can.

We just had our YW in excellence last week. (where we celebrate the girls working toward their YW medallion and look at the Personal Progress Projects completed this year. It was really cool to see what the girls have been up to. We have two girls in my class (Beehives) who are non-members but who come to church with their neighbors. Everything is so new to them. Kathy is 12 and is really shy, but she will try anything. Kayla, (her sister) turns 12 this month, but she has been coming to our Tuesday night activities. Kayla is way outgoing and lots of fun. They both were kind of confused by the whole Personal progress event, but we have had a few activities to explain what it is and how it works. When Kathy got up to talk about what she had done that year for PP (all the girls had to talk about one project they completed) she just froze. I was standing right by her and helped her out a bit. She said she was so nervous. I told her not to stress and that it will get loads easier in time. I am just starting to understand how the church teaches us to be public speakers and to take initiative in leadership.

We just had a planning meeting for the November activities (the Beehives are in charge that month). I gave a short lesson in individual worth and then the planning began! My lesson was pretty cool. Brett gave me the idea. I took a $5 bill out of my pocket and said,"Who wants this?" They all raised their hands. Next, I crumpled it up in my hand and said, "Now who wants it?" Again, every girls raised her hand. Then I marked it up with a pen and threw it on the floor and mashed it with my foot. I asked, "Anyone want it now?" The girls started to go crazy, "Yeah we want it!" Then I said, "Nope, it's garbage now, it belongs in the trash." So I threw it in the trash. Ha ha they starting to go after it in the trash can.
I said, "Hey! You don't want that! It's garbage! It's in the trash where it belongs!"
Ariane (one of my girls) said, "Well, it may be in the garbage but I still want it."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because it's still worth five bucks!"
"Exactly!" I said.

It was really cool to talk about how no matter what happens to us in our lives, we are always of worth to God, and we are all worth the same to God. Then we went to Moses chapter 1 and talked about how God knew Moses and spoke to him face to face. God knew Moses's name and called him His son and told him He had a work for Moses to do. It was a really cool lesson.

The girls had to come up with activities that focused on the YW value Individual Worth. They decided to do blind make-overs where the person putting on the makeup and styling the hair has a blindfold on! Ha ha then we will take "glamor shots" and have treats. Then, they decided to so some sort of activity where we make others feel good about themselves.. TBD. :)

Well, that is about all that is new in my life this week. OH WAIT! I launched Body Pump 79 this weekend with our director of group fitness Shelley Moore. She asked me to team teach with her when we "launched" the new set of choreography sent out by Les Mills. I LOVE TEACHING BODY PUMP! I am upping my lifting weight and getting stronger every time. I am also learning how to cue my class so that they can know what move is coming next and how many sets and so on. It is such a hard thing to be a motivating and technically accurate teacher. It's not hard to be accurate, but it is hard to know when to say what and how to help them have fun. Les Mills (the company that makes Body Pump) is great at making mock classes for us to watch on DVD so we get how they want us to teach, but it is still daunting. When I watch them, I think, "oh ya, I can do that, that's easy." But then I try to recreate it and I fail epically! So practice practice practice for me and also learning how to say more with less words. It is an art.

Well, I love you dad. Brett and I are getting REALLY excited to see you and the rest of the family in just 2 MONTHS!!!

Talk to you soon.

Love forever and ever,


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday is a special day...


It is too funny that out of all the times in this past week I would choose to blog NOW. I have a "to do" list as long as my arm and at lest 3 hours of homework ahead of me.

But then I got to thinking about our plans for today (Saturday) and many silly comments Brett and I receive come to mind.

Something like...

"Oh yeah, it's so tough living in paradise."
"But guys, you live in HAWAII"
"Ya, but you live in Hawaii?"
"Everyday is a beach party cause you live in Hawaii!"
Ok so this last one not so much, but you get the idea.


Just wanted to fill you in on a
typical day in paradise. Looks super fun huh?
I know, I know try to hold back the shock of how
average and "just like yours" our life really is. We are in Brett's classroom doing homework and work on a
beautiful SATURDAY afternoon.

Brett is up to eyelids in work
these days. His only night off is Friday, and we have been going to St. Louis football games to cheer on his students. However, our plan may be backfiring because the games we attend are the games St. Louis ends up losing. Hmmmm...

BUT! We have lots of fun and I get to meet many of his students so I REALLY LIKE IT!
In Hawaiian culture, instead of shaking hands, the formal greeting is to give a kiss on the cheek. It's been interesting to get kisses from Brett's students, but I'm not complaining :)

So now it is Saturday and it is time for him to grade papers, answer parent emails ( oh how silly can some parents be), make lesson plans, and then maybe get in some studying of his own. I am studying now too, but I do have a bit more time on my hands than Brett. But don't fret! I'm not letting him have all the fun of being CRAZY busy by himself. :) Next week I start work as a substitute teacher for private schools. It is great part time work since Brett's job gives us insurance, and it gives me some time to actually try out Hawaii! (which I really could not do while working at Chicos) Oh Chicos... I. Don't. Miss. You. AT. ALL.

Well, I best be getting back to histology slides and memorizing 100 parts of the human body for my quiz next Thursday.

Thanks for taking the time to see how our Saturdays look :)

ps. IF you come to visit us, we PROMISE not to be this boring :)
We may even stop working on our computers long enough to take you to the beach!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Diving - Corsair and Koko Craters

WAHOO!  Oops, I mean, O WAHOO!  I recently joined the Waikiki Divers Association.  Today was my first dive as a member, although it wasn't a "club activity" - I just get a huge discount on boat dives.  I met some really nice people that came on the boat, including an LDS mom and daughters from Missouri.  An underwater camera is still somewhere beyond the horizon for me, but I found some pictures online.  I tried to choose the pictures that most closely represented what my eyeballs actually saw, rather than the most amazing pictures I could find of things that I saw.  SO...  here's the story...

Heidi drove me to the dive shop at 7:15am (thank you!!).  Next time I'll go later, because most of the setup involves people getting gear, and I already have mine!  Although I did use a shorty wetsuit from the shop.  I'm glad I did, cause I was cold by the end of the second dive.  So all the gear and the people went in the van and we drove to Hawaii Kai, where we transferred gear to the boat and headed out.  Our guides were great: Marco and Eric.  Eric was hilarious, singing his head off and talking about how "cited" he was to dive.

The first dive is called "Corsair" because of the crash-landed F4U Corsair airplane.  It was flown by a US pilot whose fuel gauge apparently malfunctioned during a routine flight.  He ran out of gas, ditched the plane, and floated in his life jacket until he got picked up... so that makes it a fun dive site, knowing nobody died there.

Here are some pictures of the plane:

It was awesome!!  My dive computer says my max depth was 108'.  That's the deepest I've gone.  We used the boat's mooring line to descend and ascend, which was nice because 1) it's easy, especially at the safety stops on the way up, and 2) there was a decent current, so it was nice to not have to fight it.

On the way down, I finally saw pennant butterflyfish!  There were tons of them, along with other fish.  It was amazing to see so many fish in the middle of the blue.  Usually there's a reef backdrop, but this was just blue, blue, blue, and fish.  Here's a great picture of a pennant butterflyfish, and then one that more closely resembles the view I had (if there was no reef in the background):

There are also a lot of Hawaiian Garden Eels near the corsair:

I LOVED exploring around the plane.  It's amazing to me how trash, generally, is bad for the ocean, but if it's something like an entire boat or airplane, it serves as a foundation for so much life!  There are lots of different fish around and inside the plane.  In fact, the first thing our guide (Marco) pointed out to us when we got to the plane was TWO Commerson's frogfish sitting on the horizontal part of the plane's tail.  One was yellow, and the other was red, kind of like these two, but brighter red and, obviously, the non-red one in this picture isn't yellow at all.  Both of the ones we saw today were very bright.

Here's a better picture of a bright red frogfish:

They sit perfectly still and wait for prey to come near, then they shoot their jaw open and the prey gets sucked in instantly.  They're so determined to stay camouflaged that they'll let you pet them!  Their dorsal "fins" (more like lumps) stand up as if to show their annoyance, but they don't move!  I was so happy to see (and pet) these frogfish.  I'm so glad Marco pointed them out... I don't know if I would have spotted them on my own.

Here's a funny picture I found of someone sitting in the cockpit of the corsair:

Marco warned us that there's a big yellowmargin moray eel that lives in the plane, so none of us got in the cockpit, but I definitely poked my head in, and peeked through a lot of holes in the fuselage.  There were lots of yellowfin goatfish in there.

After two slow circles around the plane, we went back to the mooring line and started ascending.  It was the first time I've had two safety stops on the way up.  We stopped at 50 feet for 1 minute, and then the usual 3 minutes at 15 feet.  When we got to the surface, the swells had grown big time!  One guy just about got thrown up the ladder feet-first!  As he was holding onto the ladder, a big swell came.  He held on with his hands, and his feet got above him.  Then the water (and his feet) went back down, and he started climbing again.  The crew had a good system where a diver would approach the ladder underwater, hold on with their hands in superman position while a crew member behind them took off their fins, and then the diver would climb the ladder while the crew member handed the fins up to someone on the boat.

The second dive site is called "Koko Craters."  I guess they were crater-ish, but it was more like a few curved ledges with flat surfaces above and below.  Our max depth on this dive was 40', so it was just a nice, relaxing dive.  We saw about five turtles, and three of them had barnacles ON an eye!  How does that happen?  I've seen a turtle being cleaned by fish, and when one came to his eye, he jerked his head away.  So how does a barnacle latch on?  Weird.

(By the way, I saw a turtle being cleaned last Monday when I went freediving with Brian Rugen, one of my professors.  It looked very much like this, but there were no yellow tangs.)

So... it was a nice dive, and we saw a very active snowflake eel.  It was swimming in and out of holes and cracks in the reef, frequently stopping with his head poking out (as eels do), only to start swimming around again.  It was fun to watch, and as one of my fellow divers said, "I think that was the most beautiful eel I've ever seen."

There were also a few statues down there.  I forgot to ask our guides if they know why there are statues.  Here are a couple of them:

I rubbed his belly for good luck.

I also identified three more fish on this dive!  Let's start with the least exciting (no offense, manybar goatfish... you're just not all that pretty).

Goatfish are common, so I've procrastinated trying to tell them apart (except for the yellowfin goatfish, which I really like).  Manybar goatfish, check.

I also saw a couple of potters angelfish.  These ones are really beautiful:

I also saw a lizardfish.  It was near the active snowflake eel, so I was a little bit wary as I tried to get a good look.  I was hoping to see an orange mouth, but no dice.  It was one of three very similar lizardfish, not an orangemouth.  After a bit of research, I think it was a Hawaiian lizardfish.  It was about a foot long.

As we were heading back to the mooring line (we used it for ascent/descent again), Marco pointed out a leaf scorpionfish!  It was small - about 3 or 4 inches long.

Overall, these were two fantastic dives!  The second one was a little boring in terms of topography or "wow" factor, but that's probably because I had just done my first wreck dive and my deepest dive.  My previous max depth was 60 feet, so 110 feet was pretty exciting for me, not to mention the airplane, frogfish, garden eels... WOW.  Definite "wow" factor on that dive!  The second was great as well, with the turtles, fish identification, the active eel, statues... geez, now that I think about it, I was definitely spoiled by the first dive to think the second lacked anything!

There was one moment on the second dive that I was lagging behind and above my 2 buddies and our guide, and I had a strong sensation of flying.  That was the first thing that appealed to me about scuba diving - the weightlessness.  It was such an amazing feeling!  I was up above those guys, belly down, and flying.  I stayed a good 10 feet above the bottom for a while, enjoying the feeling.

Man... I really, really love diving.  It's actually a bit spiritual for me, in addition to being just plain fun and exciting.  I remember talking with Brady Statham one time about how incredible it would be to be able to fly.  His mom heard us and said, "I think Heavenly Father knew what would make us most happy."  I heard that and thought, "Yyyeeeaaahhh... buuuuuut... it would be REALLY cool to be able to fly."  Well guess what?  Now I can!  At least that's what it feels like to me.  I think Heavenly Father really does know what will make us most happy.  And I don't just fly over streets and grass and trees, I fly over (and under, and through) this alien world full of incredibly diverse, strange, and beautiful creatures.  It's such an awe-inspiring part of our planet that relatively few people get to explore like I do.  It makes me feel very thankful for this earth, and for my wonderful wife urging me to put some money into a "diving" category in our budget so that I can develop this aptitude and explore this passion while we live in such a wonderful place for it.

Goodness gracious I LOVE IT!!!

(Edit: I just found two pictures of frogfish at the Corsair on the Waikiki Dive Center's facebook page... this is probably one of the frogfish I saw today.  So cool!)

Fairbourn Family Vacation - Kauai!

We had a WONDERFUL family vacation in Kauai.  Heidi and I were there from June 17-26.  Time is slipping away, so I'm just going to post the video we made to say thank you to my mom and dad for the amazing vacation, and then a bullet list that Heidi and I made in the airport.  The list was supposed to act as an outline for a blog post, but now it is the blog post.  :)

Friday, June 17
  • Arrive w/ Richards and Dad
  • Dad drove slow for Heidi.  :)
  • Snorkeled – first day of GoPro
  • Watched Horatio Hornblower
  • Church
  • Snorkel together – no turtles
  • LeSueurs and Powelsons arrived
  • Fathers Day – trying to watch Sorcerer’s apprentice, interrupted many times!
  • Gave dad t-shirt
  • K&B announced pregnant!
  • Blue Room!
  • Secret Beach, lava pools, Dad happy as a kid in a bath tub. :)
  • Went to stores, Kayak Kauai
  • Day 2 of GoPro – turtles!
  • Killer Bunnies – Brett won!
  • Packed for hike, and hiked!
  • Hike: Heidi’s first backpacking, “IT’S BAD!” rainbows, rain sog, waterfalls, tadpolls, giant pineapple plants, crossing streams (get video from Chester), scary trails, sleeping in cave, waterfall shower, sleeping on sand w/ backpack pillow, midnight bathroom run.
  • Decided to get on the boat
  • Sea caves!
  • Wody (dog), and Captain Joe
  • Nap, Brett homework (lesson plan and video)
  • Diving with dad, diving with Dan.
  • GoPro day 3.
  • Hearts?
  • Queens Bath (we jumped together!)
  • Boogey boarding beach
  • Brett homework
  • Dan & Melissa shishkabobs and chocolate covered strawberries.
  • Boggle
  • Family pictures
  • Snorkeling at outer reef (alone) then inner reef (with big group) – mom stayed out longest, watched me go through tunnel, mom saw shark
  • Brittney and Heidi hung out
  • Pizza
  • Church – good talks about living within your means, and about being prepared.  Nephi’s perspective vs. Laman/Lemuel’s perspective.
  • BEST snorkeling with Heidi!!!  Two turtles, lots of tunnels, BIG school of fish, Heidi swam way out to deep water.
  • Heidi talked outside with the girls forever and got sunfried.
  • Brett packed and watched baseball and talked with Kent.
  • Drove with Le Sueurs.
SO MUCH FUN with my amazing family!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Random Happy Memory

I'm sitting here listening to music by Andy Perkins, and I remembered a time when he and I played together at The Circuit in Midvale.  There were 5 performers that night, and they split the night into two parts - the other three went first, then Andy and I had our turn.  We each sat in a chair, and took turns standing up to the microphone.  We hadn't practiced anything together, though we occasionally added in a few notes on the guitar while we were sitting watching the other person.

IT WAS SO FUN.  I wish my family could have been there.  Soon after Andy and I got onstage, I said something like, "It's so fun to be playing with Andy, not only because he's my best friend, but also because I'm his biggest fan.  Seriously, if you look on my iTunes, the most played songs are his.  So Andy, if you have any trouble remembering lyrics, I can help you out."  The funny thing was he did need help - a few times in fact.  I'm not sure which was funnier: his slight pauses when he continued strumming, looked back at me, I sang the next line, and he nodded and kept singing; or the time when he paused, looked back at me, I shrugged my shoulders, and he looked back at the mic and made something up!  The audience laughed whenever either scenario occurred.  It was such a blast.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two Dives at Sharks Cove

Well, the blog is WAY behind, but I know better than to wait for myself to catch up.  We haven’t written about Quinn and Kristy’s visit, or my parents’ visit, both of which were really great.  We also just had girls camp, which was SO much fun.

But I have a second right now to write about today.  Today I went on two dives with Geoff Bolton, James Larsen, and Jeff Hallstrom.  Holy canoli it was fun.  We dove at sharks cove (Dad, when you and I went, we missed the good stuff).  :(  On our first dive, we went in at the sandy spot at “Tables.”  Before long, Jeff and I found what I think might be called the “cathedral.”  It’s basically a huge room made out of rock and reef.  It has several entrances, and a ceiling.  We hung out in there for a little while just cause it was so dang cool.  We didn’t see much in terms of non-fish sea life on that dive.  At the end of the dive, I was VERY positively buoyant.  I must have had a bubble stuck in my BCD, because I was actually upside-down and kicking at our safety stop, fighting to stay at 15 feet.  That was not very fun.  When we surfaced, we were really far from shore.  On our way in, we saw a turtle.

The second dive was the best.  This time we actually started in Sharks Cove, and went out to the right.  There are TONS of swimthroughs and tunnels out there!  The largest tunnel we went through was long enough to be quite dark inside, although we could see light at the other end (otherwise we wouldn’t have gone in!).  At the other end, the light was coming from a vertical tunnel, and there was a five foot eel diving and swimming around!  Its full length would be visible just for a second as it dove down, and then it would disappear into the far side of the tunnel, which was pitch black.  Then suddenly it would show up in the light again.  SO cool.  There was a side tunnel out of that spot, which was more appealing than sharing the other one with an eel, so we swam out that way!  A few tunnels and ledges later, Jeff pointed out a turtle.  After that, he pointed out a crab that was dark with neon highlights.  About a foot below the crab, I noticed an eel tail.  I went around to the other side of the rock, and it was dark.  I had to stick my face in far enough to get in the rock’s shadow, and then I saw the eel’s face a few feet away.  It was a pretty big eel - I'm not sure what kind.  Dad and I learned from our dive guide in the Virgin Islands (though this has not been confirmed by another source) that eels open their mouths wide when they are relaxed, but if they’re sitting there with their mouth shut, then they are alert and more easily agitated.  Well, this one had his mouth shut.  I got a couple good looks, and then we moved on.  We saw some more of those colorful crabs, surrounded and scattered a school of yellowfin goatfish, saw another turtle, and finished our dive with a good 20 minutes at about 15 feet.  Our total dive time was just over an hour.  We had turned around after exploring a bunch of tunnels, so we were back at Sharks Cove when we surfaced.  It was a perfect dive, I LOVED the tunnels, and we saw some good wildlife.  Awesome.  I would love to have an underwater camera.  Swimming through tunnels, under ledges… I like finding schools of yellowfin goatfish in the shadows.  When they hang out in the open, they are blue and yellow.  When they get in the shadows, they turn pink and red.

See? :)

Afterwards, we got burgers at Kua’Aina.  Yum.

Now I have to work.  Boo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Prepare to face the wrath, Kaiser.

I am filing a complaint with the Hawaii Insurance Commissioner, and the Hawaii Attorney General, even though the latter complaint will be redirected to the Insurance Commissioner.  I just want to be able to say both next time I talk to Kaiser.  Shoot (I mean "shoots"), I took the time to write it... why not print it twice?

Here are my responses to the two detailed portions of the complaint form:

Provide a Summary of your complaint or inquiry. Include (1) all information you believe to be relevant to your claim and (2) the issues of concern. If you need more space please prepare and attach additional sheet(s).

On 2/7/2011, I enrolled in an insurance plan available to Hawaii Pacific University students, provided by Kaiser Permanente, for the period of 1/1/2011 - 8/30/2011.  The premium for the entire period ($4,064.82) was due upon enrollment.

Subsequently, my wife got a job that has an insurance option with better coverage at a lower rate, provided by HMSA.  On 4/1/2011, I called Kaiser to find out if I could cancel our plan and get a refund for the remaining premium.  They informed me that I could.  I have attempted to do this three times:

1) The woman I spoke to on 4/1 said that I could login at and submit a request to cancel, effective 3/31.  She said that my login credentials would be sufficient to confirm my identity and cancel my membership, and that the unused portion of my premium would be refunded.  I did as she directed on 4/2, and informed Kaiser that I wanted the refund send to my home address.  On 4/4 I got a response indicating that my request needed to be submitted in writing, with my signature.  On 4/5, I wrote back (electronically) to confirm that the 3/31 cancellation date would still be honored, even with the delay of using regular mail (our HMSA insurance started on 4/1, and I did not want to be paying two premiums at the same time).  On 4/6, I received a response to my second message, which stated, "Your request to terminate your coverage effective March 31st will be accepted."  I have included a copy of my 4/2 and 4/5 messages, and Kaiser's 4/4 and 4/6 responses.

2) I wrote a letter, my wife and I signed it, and I mailed it as directed.  I have included the letter.  I retroactively dated the letter 4/1/2011, but I actually wrote and mailed it around April 7th (not sure of the exact date).  In response, I received a notice in the mail indicating that my request was incomplete.  The letter said to "return all requested items, along with this form" to Kaiser, but the letter did not actually request any items.  I called Kaiser again, and was told that I needed to include proof of new insurance coverage.  Again, I confirmed that the 3/31 cancellation date would be honored, in spite of the ongoing delays.  Again, I was assured that the 3/31 date would be honored.

3) I contacted HMSA and acquired proof of our new insurance coverage.  I have included the letter I received from HMSA.  I sent this letter, along with the notice Kaiser had mailed to me, back to Kaiser.  I added a handwritten note, again informing Kaiser of the address to which they should send the refund of the unused premium.

Today, 5/11/2011, at about10:15 AM, I called Kaiser to check the status of the pending refund.  I talked to a customer service representative in Hawaii, who informed me (for the first time) that I could not cancel my HPU insurance plan.  She told me that I should have received a letter, dated 5/3/2011, informing me of this.  I was not at home when I made the phone call.  When I got home, the letter had arrived.  I have included the letter.

The Hawaii customer service representative also gave me a phone number for a Kaiser office in California.  The phone number is 866-575-3551.  I called this number at 11:22 AM today and spoke with Liliana.  Liliana informed me that my plan had in fact been cancelled, effective 3/31.  Then she put me on hold, and when she came back, she informed me that I could not cancel my plan.  I reminded her that she already told me it had been cancelled, and asked, "Are you saying my plan has been reactivated while I've been on the phone with you?"  She responded, "Yes, sir.  It should not have been cancelled.  I'm not sure how that happened."

State what you would consider to be a satisfactory resolution to your concerns:

I paid $4,064.82 for a coverage period of 242 days.  I used 90 of those days (1/1 - 3/31), leaving 152 days to be refunded:

4064.82 / 242 * 152 = 2553.11

Therefore, a satisfactory resolution would be a refund from Kaiser in the amount of $2,553.11

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cockroach Hunter

During the tsunami warning, a friend told us that we were being initiated, and now that we'd been through a tsunami, we were true Hawaiians.  But I'm thinking nights like last night are really the heart of Hawaiian life, since we have them much more often!

I've learned that squashing a cockroach is a bad idea, because their... um... manner of squashing makes me want to hurl.  So here's our new method...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My letter to the Honolulu Court

Let's see if the judge that reads my letter is merciful...

Brett Fairbourn
Honolulu, HI 96815

Driver’s license: [Number]
Citation number: [Number]

District Court of the First Circuit,

I was cited for talking on my cell phone while driving on Ala Wai Boulevard.  The officer informed me that I could write a letter explaining “mitigating circumstances,” but I’m afraid I do not have a good excuse.  I was on my way to school, and my parents needed some information for their upcoming visit to Hawaii.  I was talking to my mom, and it could have waited.

I am writing, therefore, to apologize and request a second chance.  The cell phone law is a good one, and keeping both hands free while driving should be common sense.  Unfortunately, it required a citation for me to realize that I was acting against my better judgment, not to mention the law.  I am sorry for my actions, especially when I think of all the cars and pedestrians that crowd Honolulu.  All of my attention is required in any driving environment, and I made a bad decision.

Additionally, I sincerely cannot afford this $97 citation.  You probably hear a lot of sob stories; I considered attaching our March or April budget to illustrate this point.  My wife and I are students, we both work, we budget very carefully, and we are barely, barely making it.  I felt sick to my stomach after getting pulled over.  We need this money badly.

My final plea is an appeal to my good citizenship as a driver.  Our car is registered correctly, our safety inspection is up-to-date, and we have auto insurance, all of which cost money, as you know.  I am a careful driver, and my driving record reflects this.

I am sorry, and I do not have a good excuse.  I made a poor and potentially dangerous decision.  I agree with this law, and I will follow it perfectly from now on.  I cannot afford not to, both in terms of safe driving and the potential for an expensive citation.  Please accept my apology and allow me a second chance.


Brett Fairbourn

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Koko Head Hike

We hiked Koko Head today (technically yesterday, since it's 1am).  We made an epic video documenting the journey.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chris and Laurie

Heidi's cousin, Laurie, and her husband, Chris, were the first in our lineup of visitors this year.  :)

Here's our schedule:

March 17-24 Chris & Laurie
April 26-May 9 Quinn & Kristy
May 30-June 1 Brett's Parents
June 14-16 Kael & Heather (flying out 22nd)
June 17-26 Family vacation in Kauai
June 30-July 3 Brett's Parents

We LOVED having Chris and Laurie here, and we miss them now that they're gone.  We relied on their camera while they were here, and they haven't posted any Hawaii pictures yet, so here's one we stole from facebook just to give you an idea of how much fun these people are:

Their incessant smoking did get a little old, but it was worth it.

Did I mention that we loved having them here?  We've been so stressed, mostly about finances, and having a couple of fun-loving tourists stay with us was a breath of fresh air.  We went to the north shore and did a (very) quick little hike, where the wind was gusting like crazy and the waves rolled in without gaps in between.  We went to Haleiwa and had shaved ice.  We snorkeled in Turtle Bay (I think?) and Hanauma Bay (that one I'm sure of).  In Hanauma bay we saw TURTLES!!!  Finally!!!  I love sea turtles, and I saw five of them.  I learned after the first two that I should not tell other people when I've found a turtle, or else I quickly get crowded out by the swarming turtle-harassers.  I found myself feeling quite upset when people were not careful with the reef or the turtles... maybe I'm an ocean hippie?  Still... I want to try grabbing onto a turtle and letting it pull me around!  I won't do it, but... man, it looks fun.  The first turtle I saw was the biggest.  It had a barnacle on its head, and looked like the godfather of the reef.  I dove down next to it and held onto the reef with two fingers, kicking my fins a bit to stay in place.  The turtle was feeding on the reef, and as I was watching it, it came over to me!  I was only a couple feet away, but it came toward me until it touched my arm with its front flipper.  My gosh... I love sea turtles!  Definitely my favorite animal.

Anyway, we snorkeled, sunbathed, and snorkeled again.  We spent about five hours at Hanauma Bay, and we loved it.  It was Heidi's first really enjoyable snorkeling experience.  Hanauma Bay is free for Hawaii residents, so I definitely think we'll be making more trips over there!

We also went out to dinner at South Shore Grill and to frozen yogurt at Menchies while Chris and Laurie were here.  A very generous couple that was visiting a few weeks ago gave us TWO entertainment books, so we've been using coupons whenever we do anything.

We really, really had a blast with Chris and Laurie, and we are sad that they're gone.

Pacific Swing

The day after our evacuation and sleepover at the Hallstroms, we had volunteered to usher at the Pacific Swing show at the Marriott across the street.  The producer, Jon Davidson, and the star of the show, Nathan Osmond, are both in our ward.  They said if we helped with the ushering, we could stay for the show!  It was a lot of fun, and we didn't just get to see the show... we got dinner and a show.  The food was a huge bonus.  :)

The show was SO good!  It's a new show, and they're trying to make it a permanent gig.  Nathan is really, really good.  He interacts with the audience in a way that makes the show feel really personal.  He talked about his family, including the famous family members and his wife and kids.  He joked that a portion of the proceeds from the show goes to helping children... "my children!"

At one point, he invited people to come up to the dance floor and dance, and I could not believe I actually had to convince Heidi to dance with me!  But she came, and we danced.

It was a fun, free date night, across the street from our apartment.  We loved it!

Tsunami Warning

On March 10th, I was at the mall studying, waiting for Heidi to finish at work so I could take her home.  Our Elders Quorum president, Kevin Hallstrom, called me and informed me of the Japan earthquake and Hawaii tsunami warning.  He said we live in an evacuation zone.  He said, "Now you're true Hawaiians!"  Heidi got off of work, and I told her about it.  We went home and tried to get some information on the internet, but the internet was not working very well.  So we went out to the car to listen to the radio.  Oh, but before that, we heard a guy yelling outside.  He was saying things like, "You're all $%&#ed!  You're all gonna die!"  Someone yelled, "SHUT UP!" and he responded with "I WILL $%&#ING KILL YOU!"  (Side note: I programmed the police into my phone shortly after moving here).  I went out to find several of our neighbors on the edge of the walkways, looking at the street.  There was a homeless man, leaning over his shopping cart and yelling, "I AM JEHOVAH GOD!!  YOU'RE ALL $%@#ED!" etc.  Anyway... that was interesting.  When we went down to the car to listen to the radio, he was gone.  We didn't listen to the radio for long before we decided we better evacuate.

Kevin had offered his home, so we called him back.  We ended up staying at his brother's house, where they had more room and an extra bed.  We packed up a few things - Heidi was worried about all our stuff getting ruined, so she packed a suitcase full of clothes.  I just grabbed a change of clothes and the laptop.  We were on our way out of Waikiki, when we remembered our friends Michael and Patti, who also live on Waikiki, on the ground level, and don't have a car.  We called them, and looped around and back to their house.  After a lot of coaxing and coercing and explaining... Michael just wouldn't budge.  So we left them there and went to Jeff and Julie Hallstrom's house.

We stayed up late watching the news.

Finally, we went to bed, but set an alarm to get up and watch the news again when the tsunami was supposed to hit.  They showed footage from traffic cameras near the beach, and a shot from diamond head, looking down on a place where a resident had turned on their flood lights facing the ocean.  The Waikiki shot showed the water recede, and then rise above the walls, and recede again.  Nothing dramatic, but pretty eerie to see the sea level rise and fall like that.  The diamond head footage was crazy!  The whole reef was exposed twice, but no big surge ever came.

The next morning, we got to meet Jeff and Julie's cute kids!  I forgot to mention that we had a good time talking with Jeff and Julie during our impromptu visit to their house.  Nothing like a tsunami warning to bring people together!  They have a daughter named Heidi, and now Heidi and Heidi are good friends.

That seemed like a good time to stop recording.

Anyway, we had breakfast and went home!  Heidi had to work.  :(

Monday, March 7, 2011

Date Night!

We had our Friday date night on... Friday!  That's actually more remarkable than I'd like to admit.  It was FUN!  All our plans fell through, but better non-plans emerged.  We planned on going to Soho (a "mixed media bar") to see a glass blower and fire dancers, but learned the hard way that we should take the bus downtown at night or park before 6 to get one of the metered spots (don't have to pay after 6).  The only parking we found was $15.  SO... we started heading elsewhere (I think Ala Moana was our intended destination at that point?  Which is funny cause the night started with me picking up Heidi from there when she got off work)... so, we started heading to the mall and practically ran into a giant cruise ship!  It was docked right at the end of Nuuanu Avenue.  We parked in the Aloha Tower parking ($2 for a half hour) and practically ran over to see the ship during our half hour.  We talked to the security guard, an old man named Frank who served on battleships and submarines, and now he sits and guards cruise ships.  He was definitely knowledgeable about ships (don't call them boats).

I'm thankful to live in a day when my phone AND a camera are always in my pocket.

The picture doesn't quite do it justice.  I commented on how big the ship was, and Frank said, "It's the biggest."  I should have asked for clarification about that.

We ran back to the car, and couldn't leave because you have to pay CASH for parking, and we had none.  The lady wouldn't let us do a U-turn... she made the line of cars behind us back up (including a hummer limo), and we got to do the back up plus 3-point-turn of shaaaaaame.  We had to go park again so we could go to an ATM.  Awesome.  Does this mean we pay more for parking?  Heck no.  Let's find something to buy to get our parking validated.  We were planning on going to dinner somewhere anyway.  We found a sushi place... no debit cards accepted!  So we asked where the nearest ATM was, which we needed anyway.

WELL, not far from the ATM was MK Hawaii (I think?), a classic rock cover band playing Journey songs!  But wait... the band members were three 11-17 year old Japanese sisters!  (plus a 20 year old bassist, and 21 year old drummer [the only male member]).  They were AMAZING!!  We listened til the end of their set (just 3 songs, unfortunately), met their dad, brother, and grandparents, and had a great time.  THEN we went back to the sushi place.  THEN we went back to the parking lot.  THEN we got out!

Listen to the last ten seconds.  The rocking out at the beginning was great live, not so great via cell phone video.

Don't stop believin.

From there, we went to Leonard's bakery, where I got a chocolate filled malasada.  YUM.  They also had cinnamon bread for $2 a loaf.  YES, PLEASE.  We bought two.  I've been eating it with Nuttella.  Whoa.  Yum.  We went home with our sushi and baked goods and watched the A-Team, which is a great movie.  Totally ridiculous and unrealistic action with a lot of laughs.  Loved it.

Fun, fun, fun date night!  And my date was lookin SO hot.  Wow.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

They're back...14 days and counting.

Death stands on our apartment porch, waiting for the jackhammer crew.

I've tried to keep him quiet.

I'm not succeeding well.

It's raging, boiling, coming to the top,

Death and it's need to kill the noise.

Fourteen days of...

and suppressing,

A long time to try and suffocate an urge.

Today I just might let him out.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why listen to one when you can have all three?




Tap. Tap. Tap.

Ding Dong...

Sounds fill our ears just as air fills our lungs. Our ears, the ultimate explorers, seem to reach out and grab even the slightest vibration.

You can't escape sound.

Even silence creates an adventure for our ears to go hunting vibrations.

We need to experience as many sounds as possible. Music, crowds cheering, the ocean, the wind, a buzzer, the piano, the guitar, sneakers on a gym floor... all make me glad my ears like to explore and help me understand the world around me.

I thought I was pretty well versed in the greater sounds of the world. How was I to know I was really missing out? You see, I had yet to experience the sound of being inside a blender.

I know! Can you believe it?

Good thing we moved to Hawaii so I could finally find out.

For the past three hours, my ears were delighted by the glorious pounding of a jackhammer, combined with the ripping of a chainsaw, and the screams of fire engines and ambulance sirens.

The jackhammer and chainsaw ran together most of the time, with the just occasional taste of a siren. How nice they could finally find a 10 minute period where they all sprang to life at once. The whirlwind of pounding and ripping and screaming filled my ear canals with vibration after vibration after vibration. It felt like I had put in earplugs of noise.

It was lovely.

And now they are back from lunch to start again.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hardworking Heidi

My Heidi works so hard.  She works full-time at Chico's and also takes online classes from Weber State.  Right now she's at the library taking a test.  She spent a LOT of time looking, researching, and phone-calling until she found a proctor that is approved by Weber State and does not cost a truckload.  She found a librarian to proctor for her, for $10 per test.  She usually takes her tests on Saturdays, but because of her work schedule and the librarian's unexpected trip out of town starting tomorrow, she had to hurry and take the test this morning before she goes to work.  She didn't get to study much, and I'm praying that Heavenly Father puts the answers in her brain.  She would have studied more if she had time!!

I love my Heidi so much, and I wish we had more money.  But we don't, and she works so hard to keep us going, and at the same time she's taking these classes.  In one of her classes she has missed ONE point the whole semester!  So she has a 99.99% in the class.  She's so smart, so hardworking, and then she still has the ability to be happy and make me laugh ALL the time.  She is a superhero, and she inspires me to use my time wisely, get my homework done, and spend as much time as I can working for Unify.

Speaking of which... back to my homework...

I love you, Heidi.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Walking with Heidi

Yesterday Heidi and I wanted to see a new part of the island.  We didn't have much time, so we drove about a half hour to Kahe Point beach.  Here's a picture I took with my phone.

I should have taken a picture facing toward land... it was amazing.  Palm trees with big, green mountains behind them.  Beautiful!

We tried to snorkel, but the water was really murky due to big waves... so we watched some talented surfers and walked along the beach.  We found a bunch of cool stuff... this was the best item!

Buying in Bulk

Brett and I shop at Costco. We heard, and found out all to quickly, that buying in bulk is the only way to survive the shark infested prices of the local grocery stores.

I was amazed at the size of containers at Costco. When we bought an 8 pound bag of Oatmeal I thought, "It will take me 6 months to eat this!"


We (meaning mostly Heidi) ate it in a month and a half.

Before you think I am a glutton, please realize we eat cheap. VERY cheap. Not out of choice, (I miss my fresh fruits and veggies) but out of necessity. Most of our meals consist of rice. I eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast, and more than occasionally, but less than frequently eat it for dinner as well. We are learning to get creative with rice and tuna and spinach concoctions (see Brett's facebook burn story) and Brett makes a mean PB and J. :) We do buy frozen veggies, but don't use them often. Milk is a cereal food not a beverage and yogurt in a smoothie is a treat!

Getting back on track...

I was just astounded when I realized that THAT MUCH FOOD (eating the one serving measurement) had gone through my body for a monthly average of 1.4 meals a day!

I guess it is kind of a wake up call to see how much we put into our bodies. It also makes me appreciate the energy it gives me and motivates me to USE the energy I put in.

Some Things Never Change

Well folks,

You can take the girl out of school, but you can't take the "starving student" mentality out of the girl.

I was freakin out a bit about the price of those shoes. I kept searching and searching, trying to find the perfect pair. Cause if I was spending $99 for one, you can bet your britches I wouldn't be buying a second. Here is the little nugget of golden knowledge I discovered....

There is no, nor will there ever be, ONE PAIR of shoes that can be dressy, yet casual, comfortable, yet stylish, brown, yet can we worn with black, durable, yet not a combat boot.


So after being paralyzed by the price tag of the alluring Sofft (thank you Natalie for the spelling note :) ), I opted for a $30 pair of knock-offs and a REALLY cute dress. :)

The shoes I bought are black, stylish, and pretty comfortable. They will probably last 6 months. But the price was right, and I didn't feel a moral dilemma at the register.

AND now I have the funds to buy a second pair. My sweet mom sent me some lovin in the form of dollar bills.

HA Aloha Passport Promotion: Photo

HA Aloha Passport Promotion: Photo

Click the link and then click "like"... thanks!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Yellowtail Coris

Lindsay and I have started exchanging fish and bird pictures... thought I'd post this one to the blog, cause it's really cool.

This is a cool one!  I saw a juvenile AND an adult female today, and had no idea they were the same fish.  I thought I had found two new fish... pretty cool that they are the same species!  I went out deep today.  The adult was at about 15 feet and the juvenile about 20 feet.  The adult was out swimming around, and the juvenile was hiding in the nook of a coral, only coming out once in a while to see if I was gone (I assume).

Very cool fish!

(all those pictures are of ONE species!)

Love you... send me a bird!  :)

~ Brett

(the adult I saw looked like this one, except that I didn't notice a pointy fin on the anterior of the dorsal fin)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Clothing Essentials

Thank you for enrolling in Fashion 4300. This upper division course will require the use of your skills in critical thinking, analysis, and creativity to propose an answer to the following question:


Some may say it's all important, we wear clothing for a reason right. Yes, yes we do. We wear clothing to protect us from the elements, to cover things NOBODY wants to see, to make a status statement, to have fun. So what piece is most important? This is not a game of, "If you could only wear one piece of clothing what would it be?" What piece, in your outfit collection, is most important?

For women, is it your bra? (this could be a whole other post)
For men, is it your socks? (no one likes sweaty man feet)

Maybe it is your coat to keep you warm and help preserve your health?
Maybe it is an accessory pop of color to get you noticed and remembered?


SHOES. The answer, my fashion fanatic friends, is shoes. Now before you call me tricky, I argue shoes are clothing for the feet. :)

As I have learned this week, walking the two miles to work and then spending 8 1/2 hours on my feet only to walk home again, I firmly believe the most important part of any outfit is the shoes. Why else could Nordstrom charge $130 for flip flops? (I wish I was kidding-and they didn't even have sparkles.)

I spent my first 30 hours working with my one pair of shoes I brought to Hawaii. A pair of leopard print flats that give as must support as cardboard strapped to my feet. I like them because they are cute and flat. They are comfortable and don't pinch like most heels. But after 7 hours on the floor of Chico's, I am counting the seconds of the next hour until I can get off my feet. Ever step feels like a slam of fire as I pound the balls of my feet into cement. Funny thing... I'm pretty much doing just that.

My boss recommended I get a brand of shoes called Soft. They are designer shoes (which, let's get real here, if you work retail, you are a walking mannequin so designer or designer knock off clothing is required) designed for people who have to be on their feet all day. They have extra padding and a design to center your weight between the ball of your foot and your heel. My boss says she has three pair and rotates between them. With sometimes 50 hours a week on her feet, the shoes last her a bit more than a year. And she wears them until they wear out.

Let's recap. Soft shoes are HOTT, comfortable, easily accessible (I can get them at Nordstrom two stores down) and come with multiple friendly recommendations (the other came from our assistant manager who has worked retail for 10 years. She said she finally converted after wearing terrible heels for 3 years and now she has permanent numbness in her left big toe). Is there a drawback?


They cost $99. OUCH! I swallowed hard when I saw the price tag. I looked them up online to see if I could get a better deal and it actually seems Nordstrom is not making much by carrying these shoes. I can't find them online for cheaper than $99 (but that price does include shipping so... ) Moving on.

Brett saw them and said. "Wait, those shoes are $100?"

This purchase is not a great one to talk about with him. While he is supportive of me being happy and fashionable and not having my feet fall off at the end of the day, he would NEVER is his lifetime or the next, or any other lifetime handed to him, spend anything close to $100 for shoes.

Unless they were diving flippers or running shoes. Ahhh, but maybe my handsome, wonderful, smart husband is on to something, and perhaps I am not such a shoe snob as a $99 pair of heels may suggest.

The experts recommend running shoes be replaced every 300-500 miles. That is 83 hours of running if you run a 10 minute mile. My brothers got one pair of shoes for each season of basketball. After most seasons the shoes were shot and eventually retired-- a tribute to glory days of grueling practice and victories on the court. Now I am no expert as to the amount of hours that go into a basketball season, but I think is is safe to assume it is somewhere near to, but less than my anticipated 2086. (40 hours a week X 52 weeks in a year) Granted, not all basketball shoes are nearly $100. BUT! Many of them are. Why are we willing to spend so much on basketball shoes or baseball cleats? Short answer... they just cost that much. You want a good shoe that will support and protect your foot and ankle, knees and back under hours and hours of use.

Hmmmmmmm. Sounds exactly like the kind of shoe I am looking for.

But it just feels wrong to spend that much money on a pair of heels! If I could wear my jogging shoes to work, BELIEVE ME I would. Those things are designed for comfort and lots and lots of use. But again, let's get real here, how professional does it look to be in a dress and sneakers? That is a fun picture. Yum... the beauty of nylons and sneakers. Love it! (there is a reason nurses no longer wear dresses) :)

You may be asking... what is wrong with just wearing regular heels? Most girls wear heels and don't need to spend $100 to do so. To those of you who don't wear heels, let me let you in on a little secret. There is a reason girls take their shoes off at high school dances and RIGHT AFTER the 3 hour block of church. HEELS HURT! "Beauty is pain" and "long legs are hot" can only get a girl through so many hours in feet pinching, uneven weight distribution, ball of your feet jamming goodness.

So... I am left with a question. Have I finally, after 25 years, turned into a shoe snob? Or am I investing in a piece of equipment that will help me do my job?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back in the Water

Oh my gosh... today I went swimming for the first time this week.  Horrible I know.  But this time I swam outside the protected area.  I noticed the following:

1. It's WAY more fun.
2. When the beach seems really crowded, and the water isn't treacherous, just go out to deeper water!  Turns out there's plenty of ocean to go around.  Even on Waikiki in mid afternoon.
3. FISH!!!  WHOA!!!

Lindsay, are you reading this?  Cause I thought of you when I was out there.  I wondered if you still do much bird watching.  Cause I think we could have a lot of fun exchanging discoveries.  You show me pictures of birds you like, I show you pictures of fish I like.  Deal?

IT. WAS. AMAZING.  I went out to deeper water, and I was careful to avoid really shallow reef cause there were some decent waves.  I loved how I'd get sucked out a little ways before a wave, and then surged the opposite direction when the swell came.  Here's where I went...

I didn't swim a straight course (had to chase fish, find ways around shallow reef, etc), but that's the overall route I took.  It was a long, incredibly fun swim.  I went with mask and snorkel, no fins, as usual.  Here are some highlights (locations numbered on the picture)

1.  HUGE school of HUGE fish!!!  My eyes were popping out of my head.  Each fish was at least a foot and a half long, and there were about 150 of them.  They were mostly one kind (this is where I want to "play" with Lindsay so I can start IDENTIFYING fish), but there were others mixed in, including a HUGE parrot fish, and a fish that was shaped like a triggerfish, but with dorsal and belly fins that waved like grass.  All black except for a white stripe between the body and the dorsal/belly fins.  Gotta identify that one!  I followed and swam among this school for a long time.  Surrounded.  Amazing.

2.  Here I found about eight big fish.  Not as tall as the ones in the big school, but longer.  A couple of them were probably over three feet long.  Big eyes, big "V" shaped tails, 3 fins down the belly... gotta identify these guys, too.  Silver colored with tinges of green.

3. Here there's some exposed reef.  It really kills the waves, so it's safe to get close to the reef on the shore side.  Lots of fish here, including a long, trout-shaped fish that was all black with white spots on the head half and silver stripes on the tail half.

4.  This was a cool wall of reef with fish hiding in every nook.  I also chased an eel through open water here.  Just a little one... maybe a foot long.

Those are the highlights.  Wish I had an underwater camera.  If I ever start to complain or sound like I'm taking Hawaii for granted, someone please ask me, "Brett, when was the last time you went for a long swim out to deeper water?"

Gotta start DIVING!!!  But I need weights still.  No spare money at the moment.

MAN that was fun today!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now"

Well ladies and gentlemen, I finally did it!

Found a job that is.

I am proud to say that starting Monday, I will be the assistant manager at the only Chico's in O'ahu.

You are jealous I know, but please try to understand that you all can't be as lucky as me. I'm sorry, truly I am, but it takes a special kind of person to work 40+ hours a week in the biggest, most crowded mall on our island. It takes a firm hand and fashionable touch to manage a team of sales associates and their efforts to turn our customers into classy, chic, and glamorous eye- candy.

Maybe one day you will all be as lucky as me.

Until then, in the words of Pretty Woman, "I have to go shopping now..."

Mr. Hollister: Just how obscene an amount of cash are we talking about here? Profane or really offensive?
Edward Lewis: Really offensive.
Mr. Hollister: I like him so much.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting around in Honolulu

This place is confusing, especially compared to Utah.  I remember being amazed when I started driving in Utah... if you have the address, you have the location.  You can actually drive to the address without a map.  That wasn't the case in California, because the streets have names rather than numbers.  Still, most of the main streets run parallel and perpendicular to each other, so using a map is pretty straightforward.  Not so in Honolulu.  King Street is one way at times, two ways at other times.  It runs parallel to Beretania (which is usually one way in the other direction), but it also intersects with Beretania.  If you use a map to get to one of the main streets, you probably won't be allowed to turn onto the street the way you want to.  It's like Honolulu reads our minds and spontaneously produces "No Right Turn" signs just where they'll get in our way.  We've had some frustrating moments, but some good laughs, too.  Fortunately, one of our new friends at church recently loaned us their GPS.  I love that thing!  The only downer is that it doesn't seem to be aware that there is CONSTANT traffic on H1, especially at certain hours.  Honestly, I'm usually in 2nd or maybe 3rd gear on the freeway here.

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining.  We just have to allow ourselves plenty of time to get somewhere, and all this traffic is great justification for upcoming bike purchases (once we can afford them).  Just need pest control to start..... (THAT was a complaint).

Anyway, here's an example of why you have to drive through every part of Honolulu at least twice before you have any clue where you're allowed to go, etc.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Financial Aid Frustration

Gotta vent a little... why not the blog?

Open enrollment for our health insurance ends on the 7th.  You can't pay for the insurance monthly, you pay it all up front.  Is it just me, or is that REALLY STUPID?  $4,000+, now.  Well, no problem, because my financial aid check was ready a while back.  I called the day before it was ready and they offered to call me so I could pick it up, rather than mailing it.  I said that would be great, and left them my phone number.  The next day, I updated my mailing address with HPU just in case.  A couple days later, I called the financial aid people again to see if my check was ready.  "We mailed it on the 26th."  "I asked to be called on the phone so I could come pick it up!"  "Oh, well we mailed it."  "Great... well, I recently updated my address, can you check to make sure it was mailed to my Hawaii address and not my Utah address?"  After a short wait, she read off my Hawaii address.  "Yes, that's my current address, but I just updated it the other day.  Is there some way you can see which address the check was actually mailed to?"  Another short wait... "Yeah, we mailed it to your Hawaii address."

Phew... sigh of relief.  It will get here in time.

A week later, it hasn't arrived, so I call again... "We mailed it on the 26th."  Yeah, I know, that was BAD.  So... "I still haven't seen it."  "Let me transfer you to [so-and-so], who can stop payment on that check and cut you a new one."  GREAT!  Transfer, ring, explain, "Okay, I'll stop payment on that.  Do you want to come pick up the new check?"  YES!!!  JUST LIKE THE LAST ONE.  "Yeah, that would be great.  Will it be ready today?"  "No, it will take 5 business days to process."  Explain health insurance predicament... of course, nothing he can do.  "Is there some way you can check if it was actually mailed to my Utah address?"  "Let's see... yup, looks like you updated your address on the same day we mailed it out, so it was sent to your Utah address."  Holy CRAP are you serious???  If the other person had actually figured that out instead of just telling me an optimistic GUESS, I would have stopped payment a week ago and had a new check TODAY.

So... hoping the check arrives in Ogden, gets forwarded, and arrives back in Honolulu before Monday.  I did not stop payment on it, because it has a better chance of getting here in time than a new check.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ooooh... another favorite.

These guys are cool.  "Flying Gurnard."  There are a few of these that hang out in the protected part of Waikiki where we swim.

School... for the first time since April 2008

This is my second week of classes at HPU, and I really like it so far.  I have two classes plus a field experience course (student teaching at a high school).  The field experience hasn't started yet, but I just got cleared to start (had to get fingerprinted, etc.) so I'm looking forward to that - it will be 6 hours per week.  My two classes are Monday 5-8pm and Thursday 5-8pm.  I don't know if I would have picked that schedule, but it's great for a few reasons:

1. I don't have to do homework until the day of the class, because it doesn't start until 5.  So Monday can be ED 6470 day, and Thursday can be ED 6000 day.  So I'm hoping for a schedule like this:

Monday - ED 6470 homework and class
Tuesday - Sell pest control
Wednesday - Sell pest control
Thursday - ED 6000 homework and class
Friday - Field experience (go to high school all day!)
Saturday - Sell pest control if I haven't reached 3 sales for the week already.

Uh... just realized I started a numbered list up there.  The other reasons are in the schedule... days open to make money, and Friday field experience... I hope that works with my mentor teacher.  We'll see.  I'm calling her back today.  I called earlier and they put me through to her CLASSROOM phone at 10am.  Stupid!  I asked if I could leave a message for her, and instead they made me interrupt her class.  She said, "I can't talk right now because I'm in the middle of class," and I thought, "NO KIDDING.  I swear I'm not this stupid.  I asked to leave you a MESSAGE."  Oh well, not a big deal, but not the best first contact with my mentor teacher.

ED 6470 is curriculum and teaching for world languages.  There were two of us in the class, so they combined us with a TESOL class (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).  I like it so far, but part of me feels a little ripped off... this is not actually the class I'm paying for.  But the teacher is definitely making it work for us.  He wrote a new syllabus for the two of us, gave us different assignments, and the class material seems to be about second language acquisition in general, so it should work great.  Here's the view from that classroom's window:

You can just barely see the ocean on the left side.

ED 6000 is "The Professional Educator."  I'll have that class for the second time tomorrow, so I don't have a really firm grasp on what that class will be like yet.  Last week the Hawaii Teacher of the Year came to speak to us.  Cool guy.  Not a great presenter, but obviously loves his students like crazy.  He had lots of good "outside the box" ideas, and his ineloquent presentation made me realize being a great teacher has a lot to do with just loving the students, and not so much with being a great "teacher" in the traditional, classroom sense.  So that was a confidence builder.  I can love students.

This morning Heidi and I had another great swim.  Saw a new fish... I had hoped to post pictures of fish on this blog as we discover them, but it's surprisingly difficult to get the right fish with a Google search like "Big, dark, white spotted fish Oahu."  Although that search gave me another, more common fish that I really like.  These guys are cool:

I love swimming with Heidi in the morning.  She pushes me to actually make it a workout, and I distract her every time I want her to stop and look at something cool.  :)

Pest control sales have not started yet... Terminix is a big, slow, stupid ship.  I'm a bit frustrated about that, obviously.  So... back to work for Unify... such a blessing to have a job.  Life is so good.  I'm looking forward to major increase in earning potential with pest control, though.  3 sales a week is a completely reasonable goal, and it would give me about a 50% weekly increase in income with less hours, plus a bonus check every six months (about $5,000).  Of course, these are all estimates, but there is no reason why I couldn't meet these goals.  Even if I just play the numbers game, I can knock on enough doors to find those 3 people that just found roaches in their bathroom, or had their cereal attacked by ants, or have been meaning to call a pest control company.

Sidenote: We recently found a roach in our bathroom.  Our first visitor!