Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Hawaii with my grandparents

I am staying in my grandparents' apartment at their famous retirement home in Hawaii, where I have discovered to my delight several insecure wireless signals to poach, so it's time for another blog post.

On Friday, three UH professors picked up the nine of us prospective UH oceanography grad students in a 12-person van to take us to Coconut Island. They came bearing Leonard's malasadas, which I highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Honolulu (I particularly like the haupia filled ones). Coconut Island is just off Kaneohe, which is on the north side of Oahu (but not the "North Shore"). It used to be privately owned by the Pauley family and was quite the luxury vacation home--many U.S. presidents paid the island a visit. It is also the island shown in the opening credits of Gilligan's Island. Now it is owned by the state and is home to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, which is part of UH. HIMB is closer to a coral reef than any other marine biological lab in the world. The island is beautiful (like the rest of Hawaii), and we had gorgeous weather.

View at Coconut Island

The rest of the day was a little more of the same as Thursday--touring of lab facilities and individual meetings with selected professors. We prospectives were set loose for dinner, and we went to this tiny little Japanese restaurant on Kapahulu called Irifune, which is probably the most decorated restaurant I've ever seen (I had trouble finding the bathroom even when I was standing right in front of the door). They have those glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, and when they turned out the lights so we could sing "Happy Birthday" to one of the patrons, they told us we had to look up at the stars on the ceiling and say "Ooooh, ahhhhh." Quirky little place, and the food was pretty good.

After spending another day with the student I called a "turnoff" in my last post, I have concluded that she is in fact a very nice person who does not deserve my negative judgment. Even if she did remark to one of the German oceanography professors, "It's funny that so many Germans ended up here studying oceanography, since Germany is a landlocked country." Riiiight. And we wonder why people hate Americans. The other thing she said that bothered me was in a later conversation when we were discussing the recent school shooting in Germany and how, in light of the fact that the killer had been a fan of violent video games (Far Cry 2 was mentioned), some people were blaming these games for the shootings. I said that I was unconvinced that violent video games cause school shootings, and her argument in response was, "Well, [school shootings] didn't used to happen before there were video games." Oy. There are plenty of other things that have changed in society over the last couple decades that could be blamed for school shootings, and anyway, even if every school shooter were a gamer, correlation does not equal causation. With logic like hers, what kind of scientific researcher will she be? All right, so I guess I'm still a little wary of going to a school where this person would be my peer, but to be fair everyone has said dumb things before and I'm sure she is smart in other ways.

On Saturday morning, it was very rainy, which put a damper on our assorted plans to go hiking or swimming. I walked around Waikiki and bought some silly souvenirs for a few of my friends, then had my grandparents pick me up and drive me to their place. Since arriving, I have watched two movies from their retirement home's library--No Country for Old Men and Gone Baby Gone. Man, I need to watch something happy next. Today I am officially on old-people-time. My grandparents took me down for Sunday breakfast at 7:00 am. Such an ungodly hour. I'm sure that was at least one hour ahead of when my brother ate breakfast in California. I guess it'll help the jetlag when I go back east.

At noon, we're meeting some aunties, uncles, and cousins for dim sum at a restaurant called Happy Days. Happy days indeed.

No comments: