Please ‘courtesy flush’

After several hours of doing research at the BYU-Hawaii Archives in Laie this past week, I went to one of the men’s bathrooms, and was surprised to find that a previous patron in the only available stall had not bothered to flush. Ewww, he left his stinky mess behind . . . which, you may think somewhat strangely, has prompted me to blog on about toilets, near and far.

Please keep reading as I share some Asian-Pacific perspectives on one of the most natural but seldom discussed subjects in the world.

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This just in: Watch out for third-hand smoke!

I’ve blogged before about my feelings and experiences on first- and second-hand tobacco smoke . . . but I have to admit I was kinda’ surprised this past week to learn there’s such a thing as third-hand smoke — tobacco smoke contamination that lingers in the environment after a cigarette has been extinguished.

A quick Google™ search reveals that many people, “particularly smokers, have no idea that third-hand smoke — the cocktail of toxins that linger in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials hours or even days after a cigarette is put out — is a health hazard for infants and children.” In other words, long after the second-hand smoke has cleared.

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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…]

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…]

Hot, quaking, chicken-skin metaphors

[Oriignally published on April 12, 2009.]

A number of times during this morning’s Easter program in church the music so moved me that I felt a thrill fill my body as tears welled in my eyes . . . which leads me to some thoughts on those familiar feelings.

In addition to the Easter music, a recent presentation at BYU-Hawaii by S. Michael Wilcox — a Latter-day Saint Institute of Religion teacher at the University of Utah — helped spur these thoughts:

I recall as a teenager growing up in Salt Lake City that East High Seminary teachers, among others, used to tell us the story of how after Oliver Cowdery served for a while as primary scribe to Joseph Smith Jr. in 1829 , he desired to help translate the Book of Mormon. After unsuccessfully attempting to do so, the Lord told him in a revelation through Smith that the key — indeed, the key to knowing the truth of many things — was to first:

…study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right [Doctrine and Covenants 9:8. A note to any non-Latter-day Saint readers, the Doctrine and Covenants is a canon of modern Mormon scriptures].

There it is: That “burning in the bosom” phrase that essentially defies the ability to clearly define it to someone who hasn’t actually felt such a sensation.

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At the karez oasis

The word ‘oasis’ usually conjures images of date palm trees surrounding a rare source of water in a desert, perhaps with some camels…which is partially correct when it comes to the karez oasis near Turpan (sometimes written Turfan), located in the Gobi Desert of far northwest China.

Jiaohe, near Turpan, China

The adobe ruins of Jiaohe — an important city at one time
on China’s “silk road” — near Turpan [Read more…]

Tribute to the late “Uncle Bill”

After “Uncle Bill” — William Kauaiwiulaokalani Wallace III — passed away on March 2, 2009, I started digging through some of my old photos to put together a pictorial tribute, along with a few comments. Most of these photos center around the BYU-Hawaii sailing canoe, Iosepa, and either have never previously been published or haven’t been seen for some time:

Here’s the back-story: [Read more…]

Confession: I like country music

Because I’ve lived in the islands for over 40 years, most people who know me might be a little surprised to learn I really like country and western music. A Samoan friend’s Facebook comments about James Taylor’s beautiful Carolina being one of his most favorite songs led me to make this confession. Actually, I have a very eclectic appreciation for all kinds of music, but my appreciation for the country genre goes back a long way… [Read more…]

Beach baptisms in Laie and…

…throughout Hawaii. At the outset, let me say I sustain my Latter-day Saint Church leaders, and will follow their directions, one of the most recent of which I just heard this evening — February 15, 2009, when our Laie Hawaii North Stake President Finau Hafoka announced… [Read more…]

Samoan vs. Hawaiian names

In my last entry, I went on-and-on about the Samoan language, and made a few comparisons with other Polynesian languages, which reminded me of a brief incident years ago that demonstrates the difference between many Samoan and Hawaiian names: [Read more…]

A primer on Polynesian pronounciation…

When I first started learning Samoan in 1965, I soon discovered:

  • It is totally unrelated to English or any other European language, except for ‘upu afakasi — borrowed or “half-caste” words. Please note, Samoa does not have a caste system, but the word afakasi refers to someone or something of mixed heritage.
  • English speakers can handle most of the sounds — except for a couple of sorta’ new ones and some dipthongs (vowel combinations) as well as some completely unusual “swaps” (more on these below).
  • Formal Samoan writing uses diacritic marks which definitely help second-language learners to understand better, but they are not included in most Samoan writing.
  • There is a separate lexicon of chiefly language, bolstered by historical allusions, proverbs and socio-genealogical-geographical knowledge — all filtered through a prescribed centuries-old tradition of oratory — that usually only matai or chief’s learn to varying degrees. Ministers, Latter-day Saint missionaries, and other officials are considered to be chiefly, or just below chiefly rank; and as such, for example, I learned enough to interact with the matai in giving appropriate responses to greetings, addressing chiefs, giving thanks and, of course, speaking in formal situations such as church meetings. But it seemed to me that every skilled Samoan orator considers him- or herself an authority on this chiefly language, and like many foreign-language situations, sometimes one learned just enough to get in trouble. It must also be noted that some references actually say this manner of oratory is a separate language, but it’s definitely Samoan. [Read more…]

E hoa: Congratulations, Alfred


It is with great pleasure that I congratulate my young friend and former colleague, Puataata (if you ever wondered what the P. stands for) Alfred Grace, who was recently named as the first-ever Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Polynesian Cultural Center. I can honestly say I knew Al back when.

I first met Al when he  recently returned from serving a Latter-day Saint mission in his native New Zealand (actually he’s from that thriving blink-stop town of Turangi in the North Island) and was working as a sales guide in the Polynesian Cultural Center Reservations Department — along with fellow Kiwi and Turangi mate Varen Berryman, as well as Francis Ho Ching.

They were terrific sales people, and I think that Kiwi accent helped Al and Varen close more than a few VIP sales. For his part, Al has always been quick to recognize the late Fia Moea’i (Mau) Sataraka, PCC’s long-time Reservations manager who helped train those young men, and many others…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I recall the story… [Read more…]