On the North Rim again

(If you do not see a video window above, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-R1TzA9hdw)

On the north rim of Grand Canyon

My wife and I, along with several family members, recently drove from Las Vegas to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. For me, it was the first time in over 45 years I have been there, and in some ways, it was a bit of a pilgrimage.

But first, please note the canyon itself quickly bankrupts any decent writer of adjectives: It is spectacular, awesome, inspiring . . . on and on. Those of you who have been there know what I’m talking about. The rest of you simply have to see it for yourself, then struggle to share its majesty with others.

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B-52 and other cockroach tales

I first became aware of cockroaches when I was in elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we learned to do the Mexican hat dance to the music of La Cucaracha for a May Day program. Since then,  and even though I now know they are found in many places throughout the world, I don’t remember actually seeing one until I moved to warm, tropical Samoa as a Mormon missionary in 1965.

SIDEBAR: The Samoan word for cockroach is mogamoga, while the word for Mormon is Mamona; and since colloquial Samoan often switches the sounds associated with the letters ‘n’ and ‘g’ — or mona vs. moga can be pronounced the same way – cheeky people would sometimes derisively call us mamoga, implying we were mogamoga.

I saw way too many mogamoga back in the day, but since moving from Samoa to perennially semi-tropical Hawaii, I’ve also spent too much effort trying to keep away from the creepy crawlers. For some enigmatic reason, I thought some of you might be interested in a few of my more insightful cockroach tales, and perhaps even add a few of your own in the comments window below:

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Teaching kids responsibility

While watching several of our grandkids recently, I recalled something we taught our kids early-on . . . BUT FIRST, I apologize for being away from my blog for a while, just in case anyone out there in the blogosphere wondered if this site is still active.

Okay, back to the grandkids: My wife, Sally, and I recently went to Hilo to participate in the baptism ceremony for Sam Makakehau Kim — one of Daisy’s four sons, for those of you who know our kids. As everyone was getting ready to go over to the stake center for the services, I was impressed to see that Sam, 8, and his two older brothers — Jonah, 10, and Hyrum, now 13 — took turns ironing their own white shirts. This ironing incident reminded me of several things:

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It’s all relative…

Lately, we’ve been experiencing what passes here for Hawaii winter weather, and quite frankly for the fully acclimatized, it’s been down-right chilly: People wear jackets and sweaters all day long, put extra blankets on the bed at night, drink more hot chocolate, sleep with their socks on, etc.

For example…

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Brushes with military and government service


[Story by Mike Foley, originally published January 21, 2010]

First, let me pay tribute to all those currently serving and who have served in the military, especially including my dad, the late F. W. “Mike” Foley — who met my mom while he was stationed at the U.S. Army’s Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was also a member of the motorcycle honor guard when President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada, on September 30, 1935; and my brothers-in-law, Jimmy and the late Eddie McShane, who served in the U.S. Army in Viet Nam.

Next, let me note that I appreciate the service and sacrifice of all those in the military, but I was never one of them [although I enjoyed the JROTC class we were required to take in high school, in which I achieved the rank of sergeant]. Coming of age during the Viet Nam war, however, I came close a couple of times to the real thing, and was willing to serve if called . . . which forms the basis of my following recollections:

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Thinking of New Zealand…

PCC Te Manahua group, 2009After attending the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Te Manahua 2009 festival of kapa haka or traditional Maori songs and dances (as examplified by the group pictured at right) on August 8 in Laie, Hawaii, it got me thinking of New Zealand — a great place.

So, I started going through some of my old photos and journal entries, and thought you might enjoy a few of them…not in any order, just kind of as a picture-and-thought occurred to me: [Read more…]

China journal: Housekeeping notes

Fudan U. Guest House, ShanghaiBlog entry and photos by Mike Foley

[NOTE: In this previously published blog entry, I describe part of my 2006 trip to Shanghai and Beijing as part of a BYU-Hawaii Study Abroad trip. In Shanghai our group of 11 students, accompanied by Drs. Chad Compton, David and Yi-Fen Beus and members of their families,  stayed at the six-story Fudan University Guesthouse [picturted at right], which is located next door to the international student language center.

The guest house is essentially an old hotel (sorta’ like the former Laie Inn). I thought you might be interested in a few details about our lifestyle there: [Read more…]

China Journal: Contrasts between old and new

Blog entry and photos by Mike Foley (containing excerpts from my previously published China journal, July 2009]:

When our BYU-Hawaii study group was there in July 2006, Shanghai — and I understand many of the other major urban areas of China — were (and presumably still are) undergoing a tremendous building boom. There were immense construction projects underway everywhere, some in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and others for the World Expo, which is scheduled to take place in Shanghai in 2010. All of this makes for some interesting contrasts. [Read more…]

Me and the movies

[Originally published July 17, 2009]

Movie fans in Laie are happy again, what with the newly renovated Laie Palms Cinemas opening today (July 17, 2009) with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on the bill. The initial screenings in the newly renovated twin theaters — which promise to use “real butter” on their popcorn — comes about a year-and-a-half after Wallace Theaters closed down their operations in the Laie Shopping Center.

The new owners, Don and Alicen Nielsen (they recently moved to Laie Point and she’s a BYUH student), say they will usually show the latest movies about a week-or-so after they first come out on Oahu; and will keep the prices competitive: The opening day rates were $7.50 ($5.50 for matinees before 5 p.m.), and $5.50 for seniors (60-and-up) — yes! (Most Consolidated Theaters on Oahu are now charging $9.50 for adults.) [Read more…]

‘Coming of Age’ with Margaret Mead

[Blog and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published July 8, 2009]

In 1925-26, armed with a Columbia University Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, 23-year-old Margaret Mead spent about six months on the island of Ta’u, Manu’a, American Samoa, conducting field research on whether nurture or nature was predominant in determining behavior. Her controversial book, Coming of Age in Samoa (which I was required to read in Anthropology 101 at the University of Utah in 1964), described an idyllic place where adolescent promiscuity was a natural part of their society.

Even though her book captured the imagination of many, while raising the ire of others, that didn’t stop the people of Ta’u from giving the doyenne of anthropology a royal welcome when she returned for the first time in 46 years on November 11, 1971 . . . and I had fa’amolemole‘d [i.e. begged] and bluffed my way onto the official traveling party to see it:

Margaret Mead (center) with American Samoa Governor John Hayden
(on the left) arriving at Faleasao, Ta’u, Manu’a, on November 11, 1971
photos by Mike Foley
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PCC World Fireknife preliminaries: May 14, 2009

[Story and photos by Mike Foley, originally published May 15, 2009]

PCC World Fireknife competition, May 2009The senior men’s preliminary round in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s 17th annual World Fireknife Championship on May 14, 2009 saw a smaller field of entrants, but a tougher level of competition as the skilled “warriors” once again put their skills with the flaming knives in front of a panel of judges and an wildly appreciative audience.

After all the flames were all extinguished and the drums silenced, the judges selected nine of the senior men (age 18-and-up) to advance to the semifinals. They are:

Jeurell Lavata’i, American Samoa
Dana Teai, Tahiti
Pati Levasa, Samoa (via Hong Kong)
Brandon “Fue” Maneafaiga, Waianae
Joseph Cadousteau, Tahiti
Mikaele Oloa, Waialua, Oahu
Lopeti Tu’ua, Lahaina, Maui
Viavia “VJ” Tiumalu Jr., Orlando, Florida
Chesrveigh “Jessie” Usiel, Guam

See a sampling of my pictures that will be posted on the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Samoan World Fireknife Championship web site, http://www.polynesia.com/fireknife/fire.html . . . and at http://www.polynesia.com/blog [Read more…]

Waikiki cabby days: late 60’s

[By Mike Foley, originally published May 10, 2009]

My wife, Sally, and I wanted to go to a certain restaurant yesterday, and because it was the closest one to where we were in Honolulu, we ended up on Kuhio Avenue (a block mauka of the beach) in Waikiki and  right across the street from one of my old cab stands. That’s right, I was a cabby briefly in the late 1960s while I was a student at CCH — the Church College of Hawaii [renamed BYU–Hawaii in 1974].

In fact, a number of my classmates were also cabbies …largely because it was a cash-and-carry business: At the end of a self-imposed shift we walked away with the money in our pockets. In addition, we could make quite a bit more than the $1.50 an hour minimum wage that prevailed in those days (or the $5 a night most of the Polynesian Cultural Center dancers got for performing in the night show), and we had some interesting experiences. Here are a few of mine: [Read more…]

Pass the pliers and nail clipper, please

Back in the mid-60s when I was a Mormon missionary in Samoa, we often had to be flexible when it came to repairing things. For example, in an earlier blog entry, I shared the story of how barbed wire might be used to jump a car battery. Now, I’d like to tell two more tales of creative mechanics — both from Samoa’s “big island” of Savai’i: [Read more…]

Oh-oh…a bad smell

Jolene Kanahele of Laie recently wrote a poignant entry on Facebook that reminded me  of a somewhat related experience years ago in, of all places, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: [Read more…]

With the queen at the Great Council

Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation [Story and bottom photos by Mike Foley, partially published on April 24, 2009]

I remember the first time I saw HRH Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain: It was during her coronation on June 2, 1953 [pictured at right] — and one reason that event sticks in my mind is because it was also the first time I can remember watching a program on the new medium of television.

Our school teacher asked us to watch the historical coronation of the young queen on one of the first worldwide television broadcasts, and she made arrangements for kids whose parents didn’t have a TV yet (that was still a few years in the future for us) to watch with a classmate whose family did.

The program aired during school time, so they even let us out early. Only black-and-white TV was available in those days in Salt Lake City, Utah, where I grew up — it would be another 15 years in the future before I started watching color TV regularly — and the image was somewhat fuzzy; but the experience has stuck in my mind ever since.

As has the time in October 1982 when I personally got within about 10 feet of Queen Elizabeth as a photographer for the Polynesian Cultural Center: [Read more…]