Thursday, February 25, 2010

I read the news today, oh boy...

The big news today is the news of the Honolulu Advertiser being bought by the owners of the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Times are tough for the print media these days. The Internet has brought loads of “right now” information to your fingertips. Most of it is free, and most of it is micro targeted to your specific interests. Newspapers can’t be that. And they could never do that, mass appeal is what they need for a mass market. Newspaper are businesses, businesses that sell advertising. Oh sure they collect a little for each copy, but I’d bet ya dollars to donuts that it doesn’t cover the cost of printing & distribution, much less provide a profit. When was the last time you bought something from a ad in the paper, not the glossy Sunday ads, I’m talking about those pages at the back of the section. The black & white simple ads offering a used sofa for $50, call this number. Did you find your last job through a newspaper ad? Chances are you didn’t do either, but rather used services like Craig’s List or Good resources, but they take away the lucrative ad placements from newspapers.

So is this just another example of a product going through it’s life cycle? Is the traditional morning newspaper in the end of it’s life cycle? Newspapers have had a long product cycle run. Don’t think so? Look at cassette tapes. You bought one last when? Do you even have any? How about CDs? I know people who have gone completely digital and no longer have a single CD or even a player (outside of the optical drive in their computer). Times change. Things come and go. Some quicker (CDs), some take longer (newspapers?). I’m seeing my own business eroding away because of the product cycle.

I grew up in Chicago, a town that was blessed with three daily newspapers. The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times, and the Chicago Daily News. When I was a kid the Daily News closed down to the utter shock of all in the city. Much like Honolulu, every family had it’s preference. Our house favored the Tribune, my Aunt & Uncle preferred the Sun Times. Today I prefer the Advertiser. The fact that it’s the larger format like the Tribune of my childhood is no coincidence. I heard recently of the financial woes of the Tribune…seems my favorites are suffering right now.

My immediate reaction to the news of the sale of the Advertiser was a feeling of sadness for the 300+ employees who will no doubt be going through some big and probably hard changes in the next few months. The only question is who it will be…some from both papers, all of one, or the other…no one knows yet.

These times are definitely changing. I won’t say for the worse…because as far as I’m concerned, we are far from the end of this cycle of change. Let’s see where it lands us, let’s see how we can make it good.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Injury Report

Last night I went into the garage to retrieve something, do it all the time. But last night I needed something behind & above a bag of "HI-5's". The bag was in the way so using my foot I attempted to push it aside. Pain. Blood. Lot's of blood. One of the glass containers in the bag had broken and a shard of it stuck through the bag in the exact spot where my foot contacted it. The glass went straight into the bottom of my third toe...about 3/4"into the toe. Pain & blood. Blood & pain. I called my wife to bring the first aid kit while I held a work towel to my foot. Luckily our friend the EMT was over for dinner, and he cleaned the wound & stopped the bleeding. Followed up with my Doctor this morning and all is well except for a deep wound & a very swollen toe.

I had planned to go to the gym this morning I'm hoping the swelling will go down by the's tender & throbbing right now but getting better by the hour. Look at the picture...whatta nasty bit huh?

Friday, February 19, 2010

In praise of Spaghettios

I'm Catholic. A practicing one. This past Wednesday was "Ash Wednesday", the beginning of the 40 day season on Lent. I won't get into the deeper meaning of the choices I'm making as a practicing Catholic, but I want to talk about one aspect of Lent...abstaining from meat on Fridays. For the life of me I never know what to eat on meatless Friday's. A seafood allergy narrows my choices dramatically. Being as crazy busy as I am keeps me from seeking out too many options. My default has been cheese pizza, satisfying...but way too many calories once you have enough to feel full. But thanks to a recent news item announcing the passing of the man who created it, I have reconnected with Spaghettios. High nutrition? Nah... Haute cuisine? Are you crazy? But it's cheap ($1.49 a can), filling and has no meat. I can't believe that I, a 47 year old man, had this for lunch today. But it did the trick, and I'm through another meatless Friday lunch (many more options for dinner at home). I have a couple more cans in the cabinet at work, so if I don't come up with anything better next week I'm covered (that's if the vegetarian at work doesn't snatch it first).

The Metromix/Grilled Cornbread brain trust was asking earlier this week...what are your guilty pleasures?'s one of mine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Great Aloha Run (walk kinda fast)

This past Monday I joined over 24,000 people in covering the 8.1 or so miles from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium in an event known as The Great Aloha Run. I had done this event at least 7-8 other times, but this was the first time in 6 years, the last time being the year I got married (things got really busy after that). I’ve always liked this event for it’s casualness (I’ve never liked calling it a race since the only thing I’m racing to is the line for the donut table at the finish). Yes, there are definitely some hard core runners there hunting for age group results and PR’s. But they are far outnumbered by thousands of us just trying to get off our couch shaped butts, get some exercise, and get those finishers t-shirts (and the donuts). The weather was fantastic with cool temps and clear skies. Through all the times I’d done this event I never noticed that you are essentially in the shade until you come out from under the Nimitz viaduct. Yes there were fast people behind the slow people, and slow people in front of the fast people. There were slow people walking up to 5 a breast. There were strollers all over the place making sudden stops in packs of people. But…, if you’ve done GAR before you know this just comes with the territory. If you do GAR you can count on these things, as well as water from those Military tank trucks tasting like ass (sorry guys, sad but true). And of course a donut table at the finish.

I was accompanied by my Wife who was a champ and even surprised me with a frantic run at the start (arrrrgh, shin splints!). We finished with a time of 2:12, and if you believe my Nike+ do dad attached to my iPod, we covered 8.26 miles (I guess all that zig zagging adds up). We both had a great time and made a pact to look for more of these events to do (looking at Ford Island 10k next). So we finish, exit the stadium, get a bottle of water, a banana, a can of “POG Energy” (blech!), and a variation of a moon pie in a wrapper...say what?!?!?! Where are the Loves donuts? No donuts! A travesty!

Bummer…seriously, bummer…

I’ll return again next year in spite of that oversight.

But I’m gonna bring my own donuts next time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aloha Friday Suggestion: Aiea Loop Trail

It’s been a while since I’ve been to this trail, but I’m chomping at the bit to go again. It’s best to go when we’ve had 4-5 rain free days or you will face a muddy and sometimes very slick trail. There are two big payoffs on this trail. First are the views, great views of the H3 & mountain ridges. Second, about 2/3 of the way around (clockwise from the top) is a plane wreck just off the low side of the trail. Dating back to the 40’s, the wreckage of a cargo plane can be seen just feet below the trail. I seem to see a little more of it every time I pass by. I’ve been on this trail many times, most of them on a mountain bike, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. A mini adventure that lasts an hour tops. Better when dry, not much fun when wet (and it’s not good for the trail either).


At it says this about stress:
8. physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress.

Usually we think of this when we hear the word stress. I’ve often said that stress is caused by “how we choose to react to a situation”. Choosing our reaction to unpleasant events or circumstances is no easy feat. I’ve practiced trying to choose a less harmful reaction for some time. It’s not always easy. Fact is it’s often very hard. But I keep trying. I’m stubborn like that. My wife says that sometimes I’m relentless. Wow…that sounds powerful…truth is I’m just pig headed.

It’s no secret the world economy is in the dumper, and we here in Hawaii are not exempt. Neither are our local businesses. Each week I hear about another filing bankruptcy or closing down. In the past five years I’ve seen a number of my long time customers close shop. People with years of experience, who rode the ups & downs of business, and just couldn’t continue. Being good isn’t enough anymore…the situation has changed that much. It’s hard to deal with when you discover the skills and strategies you’ve spent a lifetime learning just don’t work anymore. Heck some things that worked 5 years ago don’t work anymore. Some from last year don’t work…quite a cycle to keep up with. Facing that…it could be tough to choose a positive reaction. Enter what we know as stress.

I’m a small business person. Been at it for a long time. Learned a lot. Forgot more. Tried not to make the same mistakes twice. But the current climate is working every talent and strategy I have. I’m scrambling for sure. It’s very tiring. And last week I noticed it creeping into my home life. Not. Good. At. All. I needed a personal re-boot and I needed it quick. How? I learned this technique from Scott Smith’s podcast ( You stand up and start pacing the room (best done when alone). As you pace, you say out loud what’s stressing you. Sometimes just hearing yourself say it out loud is enough to trigger a response. Sometimes it brings me back down, realizing I was getting all nuts over nothing really. Other times it comes harder…ideas fly, considered and discarded, like sorting through my mental “messy desk”. Most times I walk away with a plan of action, but not always. The success rate is high enough for me to keep trying this. Even when I don’t get a usable plan from it, I at least get some relief from the energy spent. Not as physical as a workout, but that kind of endorphin high. Even if I’m no closer to an answer, I feel better about the situation. God willing I’ll wake up the next day to try again…the fight isn’t over. Sometimes all I need is to know I still got fight in me to make me feel better. I must not be alone, 20 years ago Styx did a song about it…

“I’m not dead yet - not dead yet
I’m a mad dog fighting with the wall against my back
You’d better get a bigger gun, I’m not dead yet”

Hey stress, you lookin at me?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pau Hana!

Aloha Friday Suggestion

This week I have a book recommendation, with one caveat, I am listening to the audiobook version. My commute exceeds 2 hours a day so audiobooks are a nice diversion from traffic. Tony Dungy is widely known for his time in the NFL. His football cred is untouchable. But his book “Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life” touches on much more than football. In telling his own story Tony shows how faith, personal values, and the belief in a greater purpose have propelled him in his career and personal life. High highs and low lows and how he handled them all. I’m ready to get a hard copy to study further.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The end of an era...

Former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi passed on last night at the ripe old age of 89. Mayor Fasi was running the show when I arrived in Honolulu in January 1986. I immediately took note of his "here I am, deal with it" style. He reminded me in some ways of the Daleys that ran my hometown of Chicago. Some feet may be occasionally stepped on, but things got done. I also liked how he used the media to leverage the city council and gain public support. For me, his biggest legacy is The Bus, a name that's straight and to the point, just like the mayor. I rode it many times and was always impressed on how many places bus service extended to, as well as how nice the buses were. Wanna compare? Ride Chicago's CTA one day. I think indestructible cast iron or concrete seats are not far off there.

Shaka stickers, sign waving, the bus...all Frank. Godspeed Mayor Fasi.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In praise of the beer fridge

For a family man it may be the last vestige of his bachelor days. For some it’s the only place they can keep their golden nectar. And for me, it’s a little slice of heaven where I go to get away if just for a few minutes. I love, I mean love craft beers. Small batches, strong flavors, high ABVs, dark, darker, darkest, love it all. But it’s a little outta place next to the eggs and milk in the kitchen fridge. And with three boys plus Daddy in the house, a small fridge in the garage for drinks was a natural step. I call it my beer fridge, but to be honest, the only place you find beer is the door. The rest of the fridge is filled with juice bags, soda, & bottled water. But the door…oh yeah…that’s my territory.


To quote a famous craft brewing company, I don’t care for fizzy yellow beer. The beers I like usually start at a darker yellow and go all the way to absolute black. Red & darker ales are always welcome. Pitch black porters & stouts are divine. Strong bouquets, multiple layers of flavors, and the ever complex game of identifying and naming all the flavors. It begins with the hunt for new beers. Always in search of something new, something with a different twist. Once in a while I find one that really satisfies and I put that on my “list”. The “list” is for the beers I fall back on when I don’t find anything new that peaks my curiosity. Kapuziner, Old Rasputin, Darkforce, and when I can get it Arrogant Bastard. All good, all interesting, when nothing else comes forward these are the go to beers for me. I don’t deal in volume when it comes to beer, and that’s a good thing since many of the beers I gravitate to are high ABV (alcohol by volume) beers. Two is my limit on anything stronger than you will find at Foodland. It’s not about getting bust up, it’s about taking some time to enjoy a “treat”. Slowing down, enjoying the sensations, being in the moment. With a busy life like mine, I need these breaks to keep me grounded. It’s not the alcohol, it’s the pattern break…speed limit zero.

So there is my refuge, the door of the beer fridge. More than just a drink, it’s a “mental health break” for a busy life.