What a ‘wero’!

Over the past 40-plus years I’ve seen Maori at the Polynesian Cultural Center welcome many visiting groups of their countrymen with traditional greeting ceremonies, but I think the wero or challenge-and-acceptance protocol the PCC and Maori from the surrounding communities put on for Te Panekiretanga O Te Reo Maori on July 27, 2010, was one of the most exciting ever…

…partially because members are carefully accepted into the Napier, New Zealand-based group to study and perfect Maori language and cultural skills: Where in past groups maybe one or two of the manuhiri or visitors would respond to the challenge and karanga chants, nearly all Te Panekiretanga O Te Reo Maori members joined these thrilling moments as they entered the Maori marae at the Polynesian Cultural Center:

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Rainy Rushmore!

Mt. Rushmore and surrounding region (if you don’t see a video window above,
please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWp2Q05v77E)

Almost every time I saw pictures or movies of Mt. Rushmore in the past, its grand-scale patriotism instilled in me a desire to see it in person . . . so, even though it made for several long driving days during our recent road trip through the western United States, we looked forward to reaching this unique national memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

However, the huge thunderhead clouds, which I’ve been told can reach over 30,000 feet high, that we saw as we drove into Pueblo, Colorado, two days before should have given us a clue: It started to rain that night, and dampened our plans for the next several days.

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Arches! and getting there

A selection of pictures from Arches National Park near Moab, Utah (go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcZr15dhhq0 if you do not see a video window above)

The incredible natural beauty of Arches National Park — which I previously visited only once before in the mid-1970s on a photo expedition to Monument Valley — speaks for itself, but in our case, the adventure and unexpected delight of getting there enhanced the experience:

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The beauty and harmony of Navaho rugs

John Rich, Jacob's LakeOne of the side benefits of recently staying at Jacob Lake Inn near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was meeting the grandson of the founders, John Rich, who used his personal experiences and 40-year career of dealing in hand-woven Navaho rugs to help us understand the concept of hozho.

Rich, pictured at left, holds up a blanket he bought several years ago from a near-80-year-old Navaho woman who asked him not to sell it until her second granddaughter graduates from high school in a year or two while wearing it.

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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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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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China Journal: The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven was one of the places in Beijing, China, I really liked . . . probably because in addition to lots of shady green places, there were people throughout the large park-like compound engaged in various cultural arts — some in which anyone could participate.

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…]

China journal: Shanghai’d!

[Blog and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published July 17, 2009]

Shanghai, 2006, with the Yellow River and Bund in the foreground

In July 2006 a small group of BYU–Hawaii students, professors and family, and I participated in the China Study Abroad program that took us to Shanghai for four weeks of intensive Mandarin and other coursework at Fudan University, followed by a week of touring around Beijing.

Though I have already forgotten most of the Mandarin we learned, the rest of the experience was unforgettable for me. I published quite a few of my impressions in the BYUH Alumni Blog at the time, but those are now well buried . . . and I thought I would reprise  some of them here.

[More photo caption: The central commercial district pictured is just a small part of Shanghai’s skyline which, with a population of approximately 17 million when we were there, was said to be punctuated with over 2,000 high-rise buildings.] [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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‘High adventure’: Molokini and Na Pali

Foleys on Kauai[Blog entry and photos* by Mike Foley: Originally published July 7, 2009]

Years ago when our kids were all home and finances were tight, we undertook a family project with the hopes of raising enough money to go to Disneyland: Almost every month we would label, prepare and deliver about 10,000 copies of the old Hawaii LDS News to the U.S. Post Office at the airport for bulk distribution.

I was also the editor at the time of this amazing tabloid that was started in 1967 by Alf Pratte and Ron Safsten as the Honolulu Stake Record-Bulletin (Reg Schwenke also served after me as one of the editors). The publication eventually spread throughout Hawaii, and until regional leaders decided to stop publishing it in 1991, Hawaii LDS News was the only Latter-day Saint Church-sponsored newspaper outside of the worldwide Church News.

Our family project took hours to complete each issue and it was a lot of work. To make the reward a little more immediate, each weekend after we got the newspaper out we would take some of the funds and all go out to dinner: The kids particularly liked going to the Pizza Hut restaurant in Haleiwa, which was the closest one in those days.

But as the summer we hoped to go to Disneyland drew near, we knew we didn’t have enough money for the mainland… so we planned a trip closer to home that took us to Maui and Kauai (some of us pictured above/right at the Waimea Lookout). Staying in hotels with swimming pools was definitely important to the kids, and of course we hit many of the regular visitor attractions on both islands; but our plans also included “high adventure” snorkeling off Molokini and along the Garden Island’s Na Pali coast. [Read more…]

Fresh is best…

Peanut butter jar[Blog entry by Mike Foley: Originally published June 2, 2009]

You know that saying, when it comes to food, that fresh is best? It’s really true…or at least it certainly was in the case of several fresh-food stories I’d like to share — one about peanut butter, of all things, and the others about fish. Pay particular attention to the last one: [Read more…]