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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Replacing the “cone of shame”

April 18th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Those dreaded veterinary collars that dogs and cats hate to wear have gotten a makeover, it seems. The one we’re familiar with is a flat semi-circle of plastic that wraps around and creates an open cone with your pet’s head inside it.

It seems pretty disorienting to wear one, and in the brief attempts we’ve made to follow our vet’s orders and encase one of our cats, it leads to collisions with furniture and serious difficulty maneuvering around otherwise familiar spaces.

Actually, in all the years and generations of cats, we have collected an awful lot of those cones, not one of which has stayed on one of our cats for more than an hour or so. Usually just for show as we leave the vet’s office. Sometimes we carry it out, blatantly lying and saying that we’ll put it on when we get the cat home. Fat chance.

Mr. Murphy, one of our favorite morning dogs in Kaaawa, has been struggling with one of those traditional cones for weeks to keep him from chewing various parts of his body.

Enter ProCollar.

When we got to Murphy’s house today, there was Murphy. But the old plastic collar was gone, replaced with what looks like one of those pillows that frequent flyers use on planes.

This may not be new, but it’s the first time I’ve seen one loose in the wild.

Technological change

This product looks like a winner. It was obviously much more comfortable to wear, and much less disorienting, but it appeared to be relatively effective. And Murphy’s spirits seemed much improved.

We just hope that these are available in sizes appropriate for fat indoor cats the next time we have a medical need.

→ 1 CommentTags: Cats · Health

Don’t fault the Senate if Balfour’s nomination is approved

April 17th, 2015 · 6 Comments

While Bill Balfour would not have been my choice to serve on the State Water Commission, I don’t think there are good grounds to block his nomination.

It seems to me that much of the testimony focused on what Balfour is not. He’s not a scientist. He’s not a lawyer. And, more specifically, he’s not Denise Antolini, a point made by several people who offered testimony.

But what is he? It seems to me that he came across as a straight shooter. He has a lot of management experience. Among those are a unique set of experiences that can, it seems to me, contribute to a commission dealing with statewide water issues. He has the confidence of a number of interest groups that need to have seats at the table.

He says he has walked or rafted the length of East Kauai Irrigation System and the Waiahole Ditch System. I’m guessing he’s walked much of the water systems on the plantations he managed, including Oahu Sugar. He was an irrigation manager before becoming a plantation manager, a position that requires dealing with lots of water resource issues.

He’s been the director of two city agencies, and knows the problems and limits, as well as the potential, of government agencies. His government experience is pretty diverse, and it seems like people who worked with him have spoken up on his behalf.

I also don’t think it’s fair to blame him for being part of prior water commission decisions that were later overturned by the courts. I haven’t heard anyone say that he was the driving force behind those decisions. It wasn’t that they were intending to make illegal decisions. To be fair, the law in this area has been evolving, changing course and resetting public priorities over the years, mostly in a positive direction when it comes to this area of law. He’s been part of that history, and understands that once the courts have ruled, you have to adjust to the new interpretations of the law.

And while he took lots of public criticism for being a “plantation luna,” those plantations are long gone. I see no evidence that he would, as the petition that has been making the rounds says, “favor the plantations instead of the rule of law.”

Would he have been my pick, had I been governor? No.

But is he unqualified to serve on the commission? No, I don’t believe there’s a case to be made that he’s unqualified, given his broad and diverse experience.

And, by the way, I do believe that Gov. Ige’s picks should be given some deference. So while I might not be happy with the choice, I won’t fault the Senate if they approve Balfour’s nomination.

→ 6 CommentsTags: environment · Legislature · Politics

Happy Feline Friday (Photos!)

April 17th, 2015 · 4 Comments

Ms. WallyMs. Wally is not going to give up.

She’s pretty frail these days, and has up days and down days.

The last few days have been “down” days for her, marked by picky eating and lots of needy lap sitting. And, with Meda in California for a several days at the UC Irvine campus, I’m the only lap available. At least she doesn’t bite my hand or my arm while in my lap, which is one of Romeo’s attention-getting tricks.

Yesterday I used the occasion of her presence in my lap to trim her claws, front and back. And today I tried some salmon cat food, which she liked. I’m hoping that this will spark her appetite and turn this into an “up” day. We’ll see.

I opened the door and let the cats out into the yard this morning when I got back from the early morning walk to the beach. All went out. Annie returned after about 45 minutes. She was the last to return. Romeo was back in about 30 minutes. Duke immediately went under the house, probably in search of Lumber, then came up on to the back deck and wanted to get back in. Toby sat on the grass for a while, then returned. Wally just took in a bit of sun on the deck. Kili did a bit of sun and some grass sitting as well.

So it was a good morning, from the cats’ perspective.

–> See all of today’s Friday Felines!

→ 4 CommentsTags: Cats · Photographs

Throwback Thursday: With Ann Keppel

April 16th, 2015 · No Comments

With two of my favorite people, probably around 1993, give or take a couple of years.

That’s Meda, my wife of many decades now, and the late UH Professor Ann Keppel between us. Ann was one of Meda’s colleagues and mentors, served for a time as chair of what was then the Women’s Studies Program (now a UH department) and she grew into one of our closest friends. She had a way of doing that with people. I’m guessing this was taken somewhere in the early-to-mid 1990s. Ann retired from the faculty in 1992, according to one clipping I found, and within the next couple of years Meda’s first book received the top annual award from the American Society of Criminology, and she also was given the UH Regents Medal for Excellence in Research. We had several celebrations of those recognitions, as well as Ann’s retirement, and this could very well have been at one of them.

I’m holding a little Nikon film camera, a pre-digital point-and-shoot. Another clue as to timing. By about 1998 or so, I had become an early adopter of a digital camera.

c. 1994

After finding this picture, I went looking at the collection of stories I pulled together following Ann’s death in 2002.

Here’s what I wrote about her at the time. It’s still one of my favorite little essays.

I’ll always remember our Friday nights on Ann’s deck overlooking Diamond Head and Waikiki, with wine and good food spread on the table, cats making furtive runs past to test our willingness to share, and Ann pumping us for stories, commentary and arguments until we were as dry as the last bottles of wine. Just inside the door, crisp new books recently arrived from Amazon would be stacked haphazardly amidst the general chaos, already read and now ready to be loaned at the slightest sign of interest.

I don’t know if I’ll cook, she would say in the morning, but by evening the kitchen would be filled with the glorious aroma of some Keppel production. She often seemed so impatient and resistant to prudential matters that I had trouble envisioning her taking the time to cook. But she did, with obvious skill and taste.

We shared a belief that the world can and should be a better place than it’s allowed to be, but Ann added an appreciation of both the broad tides and minute details of history. She had a mind for those details, a passion for them. You could always learn from her, and we did.

She was invariably the first person to call whenever one of my stories made it into print, and usually one of the only people to immediately ask about the juicy unpublished details.

We also shared a love of cats, and watching Ann’s feline interactions was always a joy. She could sweep any of her cats off their feet and clamp them firmly in the crook of her arm while administering wholesale affection. It was a most awkward position for the cats, but they never fussed or complained, having long since learned there was little room for resistance if Ann wanted to fold you into her life.

That was a lesson, I suppose, that we all learned over the years, cats and people alike.

→ No CommentsTags: History · Photographs

Do resales of “affordable” units undermine housing policy?

April 15th, 2015 · 19 Comments

“Something wrong here.”

That was the subject line of an email from a reader earlier this week.

He pointed to a story about the new condo at 801 South Street, on part of the site which formerly housed Honolulu’s two competing newspapers (“High-rise in Kakaako completed, owners set to move-in June“).

The story quoted Marcus and Sara Hayden, UH employees who had just closed on a unit in the building, their first experience with home ownership.

Here’s the final paragraph of the story.

Hayden also found out that the unit, which he bought for $414,000 with two parking stalls, was appraised by his lender at $480,000. Hayden and his wife expect to sell the unit in about 18 months or so to move into a larger unit in 801 South B that Sara Hayden contracted to buy before getting married. The neighboring tower is slated to be finished late next year.

The reader commented:

If people are already planning to sell their affordable priced condos at a profit before they even move in, it seems to defeat the whole concept of housing for the working people.

This wasn’t a criticism of the Haydens, but rather a question of policy.

Is this a problem for Kakaako’s few new “affordable” projects? Are there policies to limit speculation in affordable units? Perhaps someone else can fill us in.

→ 19 CommentsTags: Consumer issues · Planning · Politics