My one-and-only ice storm . . . up ’til then

ice storm resultsI was reading a novel the other day which included an ice storm in its plot. Now, I essentially spent my first 20 years growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to experience snow and ice as well as Utah’s deep “powder” at places like Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Park City … but up to now I’ve only been in one ice storm [such as the one pictured at right]:

I’ve forgotten the year, but back in the 1980s when I was working in the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Sales and Marketing office in Waikiki, I was sent in March on an American Airlines travel consumer show to Raleigh, North Carolina. The long flight into Raleigh had actually been delayed several days by a very bad storm, and ours was the first allowed to land one very foggy morning. Much to my surprise, everything was heavily covered with ice, as in the picture at the right. I mean, as I drove out of the airport in my rental car I  saw an inch or more of clear ice sealing in cars, power lines, signs, and so forth. In fact, lots of power lines had succumbed to the extra weight of the ice, likewise tree limbs had snapped off under the extra burden.

It was quite fascinating to me. But then, after just a little while, a more interesting aspect of the ice storm started…

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Thinking about ‘ulu

breadfruitI was picking a couple of ‘ulu [breadfruit] the other day from my neighbor’s tree that hangs over into our yard . . . and it got me thinking about the bright green little ‘ulu tree that President Eric Shumway and a number of others planted during the Church College of Hawaii/Brigham Young University–Hawaii  jubilee celebration in 2005 near the cafeteria entrance and the sidewalk leading back to the dorms. As members of the Jubilee steering committee, we all felt the symbolism of the ‘ulu carrying into the next 50 years was perfect: An ancient Polynesian staple, beautiful tree, long-lived, prolific, multiple uses of all parts of the tree, etc.

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Samoa factoids: Did you know?

In the wake of news from the September 29, 2009, earthquake and tsunami damage in Samoa, I was recently reading some Samoa history, and the following few factoids caught my interest enough to share them: [Read more…]

Turn off the spell checker

A friend emailed this message to me a couple of years ago and, in case you haven’t seen it, I thought I would pass it along:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiately cllaed Typoglycemia :)

Anzamig huh? Yaeh, and yuo awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt. [Read more…]

Flat ‘jacks’ and squished critters

I recently saw something that brought back a few unusual memories of things that used to be relatively common, but now not so much: I’m talking about road-kill and how the nature of it changes over time and from place to place. [Read more…]

‘Do you paint your head?’

Ya gotta’ love Samoan semantics: Not too long ago a Samoan friend asked me, ua vali ea lou ulu? which more literally translated means, “do you paint your head?” The Samoan word, vali, however, can also mean makeup or dye — as in hair dye — so in a kinda’ Samoan way she was really asking me if I dyed my hair.

I have to admit, her question made me think of those cheesy TV commercials where the guy spray-paints a balding head to make it look like a “fuller, thicker head of hair.”

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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.

New PCC night show part of a long tradition

[Story and photos by Mike Foley: Originally published August 17, 2009]

The Tongans welcome the young couple
into their lives and community

The Polynesian Cultural Center, where I have worked off-and-on in various student, full-time and freelance capacities for the past 41 years, premiered its latest night show — Ha: Breath of Life — on August 14, 2009. During those years I’ve seen almost all of the previous productions, and in a word, I think the new show is fantastic. [Read more…]

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…]