Sometimes when you most need it, life gives you those windows of beauty and joy, like yesterday afternoon, when I was headed home from the North Shore and really wanted to jump in the water, but it was raining all the way. I pulled into the parking lot, anyway, and just then the rain stopped, leaving a rainbow, which arced over me the entire time I was swimming, and when Koko and I had returned to the car, only then did the rain start up again.
And this morning, when Koko and I went walking and I was already preoccupied with unhelpful thoughts and the clouds were dense and gray, holding little promise of a sky show or color, and then I turned and saw a surrealistic patch of sun-washed green and realized it was the slopes of Waialeale, sandwiched in between the silvery pile ups at the mountain’s summit and base.
Small miracles, both, and they completely transformed my attitude, much like the press release in my inbox from Rep. Mele Carroll’s office announcing that a bill requiring two-thirds approval of the Lege to sell any of the so-called “ceded lands" passed in conference committee.
It’s a compromise, but given the difficulty of achieving that kind of majority, at least it will help forestall the continued erosion of the Hawaiian nation’s land base until its claims can be resolved.
Still unresolved is Joe Brescia’s civil suit against a number of defendants, whom he claims cost him serious money when they objected to the house he’s building on a burial ground at Naue. Ka`iulani Huff and Andrew Cabebe will be in court this morning, seeking a reversal of the $380,000 default judgments leveled against each of them when they failed to answer the complaint.
Speaking of courts, I was over at Babylon yesterday morning and heard that Judge Randal Valenciano has imposed a dress code on female attorneys, requiring them to wear jackets and appropriate shoes. His rationale? As he told the attorneys, he was so busy looking at them and thinking of how poorly dressed they were he couldn’t focus on their arguments.
The complexities surrounding the argument for alternative fuels was highlighted in The New York Times, which yesterday ran an article on how on how military contractor Lockheed Martin is pursuing wave power technology.
Lockheed and a few other companies are pursuing ocean thermal energy conversion, which uses the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its chilly depths to generate electricity.
Experts say that the balmy waters off Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as near United States military bases on islands like Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean or Guam in the Pacific, would be good sites for developing this type of energy.
Those “balmy waters” also happen to be near major military installations, and as the article further reports:
The Navy is also interested in the technology and in the next few months plans to award a contract to explore it, according to Whit DeLoach, a spokesman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. As of last year, he said, the Navy had spent slightly more than $1 million to research the technology for Diego Garcia.
And perhaps you didn’t know that Gov. Lingle already announced a partnership between Lockheed and the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan to build a test plant in the Islands.
While the energy would be “free,” the Hawaii test plant, which the article says is “still far smaller than commercial scale” would cost $150 million to $250 million.
Then there’s the potential environmental impact. I worry about such things when the Navy is involved, because it has such a poor record in these issues and is nearly impossible to rein in.
First, there’s the visual blight of offshore platforms. Then there’s the process itself:
A huge amount of cold water would have to be pumped up from the depths. If that water, which is rich in nutrients, is discharged into a different part of the ocean, it could confuse fish and alter the balance of the ecosystem.
Mr. Varley of Lockheed also said that the warm water must be siphoned in slowly enough so that fish could swim away.
“We’ll have to put up screens, of course, on the intakes of the warm water so we don’t suck in marine mammals,” he said.
It seems like there really is no miracle source of clean, cheap, risk-free energy — except conservation. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, a kilowatt saved is a kilowatt earned.
Meanwhile, it looks like Hawaii has earned some unexpected benefits from Mexico’s swine flu misfortune, with tourism officials saying the islands have picked up half the rebookings from folks rethinking a vacation south of the border.
The news comes as the Lege is talking about throwing another $10 million at the Hawaii Tourism Authority to try and attract visitors who can’t afford to take a vacation, anyway.
And that gave me an idea. A friend who lives in Hanalei said he is repeatedly approached by tourists seeking marijuana. So why don’t we give it to them? We give them shark feeding tours and zip lining and mai tais at the hotel pool and beach front massages and helicopter tours and everything their little hearts’ desire — expect Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric and Kona Gold.
Just think how much money the state could generate if it dropped its Puritanical attitude and made akamai paka readily available to folks who would fly great distances for the chance to partake. If Constitutionally mandated programs like OHA and Hawaiian Homes are supposed to be financially independent, why not HTA?
I know it’s a long shot, because it makes too much sense. But hey, miracles can happen.