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Month: March 2006

A Year Without Yertle

A Year Without Yertle

Although we’d lived here only a few days when we saw whales breeching off shore, we have yet to see any turtles. (We were walking along the beach at sunset behind our condo at Turtle Bay Resort. It was very romantic. We were on our honeymoon. Oh, wait. We still are.) I dreamed about a sea turtle once. It was as big as our coffee table and it was in our front yard. But alas! It was only a dream. We went to Turtle Bay on Monday since we didn’t have work (thanks Prince Kuhio!) and we did not see any turtles. We saw random people I know from Utah (always a bizarre experience), but no turtles. We have seen whales on more than one occasion, despite the fact that they are, supposedly, much rarer of a find. It is our new mission to get a picture of a real turtle to post on our blog before Kamehameha Day in mid-June (which is when we are going to Alaska as well–double incentive). So keep checking up on us.

ps. Neither of us crocheted this turtle, but we would like to sponsor a competition. Whoever can create a crocheted humpback whale wins fame and glory beyond any of your wildest dreams.

The Heiselt Bunch

The Heiselt Bunch

Our precious little ones are growing so quickly! You can see in the Alice position that there is quite a bit more green than when we started. It is burgeoning forth with life! The broccoli (Bobby Brady position) is really looking great. We have yet to see anything that resembles a head of broccoli, but the stem is beginning to look familiar. In the Carol Brady position is our sad, sad Romaine lettuce. We fear the rains have wrought permanent damage to our Romainian friends. They are really droopy, but have not yet begun to show signs of death, so there is still hope. With a little more sun and a little less rain we may still be in business. Cindy “Basil” Brady is looking good, although the rain has torn some of her precious leaves. But she smells wonderful and we are looking forward to many delicious pesto sauces at her expense. Peter Brady, aka Bell Pepper, is also looking rather healthy, although we haven’t seen any signs of veggies on the vine just yet. The cilantro, in Jan’s place, is just about ready to be put to good use. We are waiting a little while longer to see if we can’t get a little more out of it before we go tearing the little things apart. Marcia’s tomato plant is getting to be so tall! And it seems like just yesterday that it was just knee high to a grasshopper! *sigh* Of course, we have yet to see any fruit on it either, but hopefully when the sun comes out again (if it ever does) we will get a few little green globes to admire. Unfortunately the sun/rain ratio is not being very kind to our initially promising snow peas (Mike Brady position). They *were* growing up our strings just fine, but have since been turning a little yellow and have not produced any fruit (sniff sniff). Blasted rain! We thought this was the land of sun! Unlike Marcia’s tomato plant, Greg’s watermelon is still knee high to a grasshopper. We don’t know if the rain has stunted its growth or if this just isn’t the plant for our garden. It hasn’t shown any signs of death yet, so we’re going to let it keep trying until it does. It’s been so fun to watch them grow. We feel kind of guilty that we don’t have to do any work in our garden and it is still looking this good. Square foot gardening is a great way to go! We highly recommend it.

Grrr! BYU Indpendent Study

Grrr! BYU Indpendent Study

When is it okay to question authority? To put up a fight? To not graciously submit? I’m not really one make a stink about anything, but I have, nevertheless, found myself in a tussle with the powers that be at BYU Independent Study for the past six months. It may, finally, be drawing to a close, albeit not altogether satisfactorily. Let me vent my frustrations to you.

The saga began back in August when I took the final for my Geography 250 class. I hadn’t done so hot on the midterm, so I was hoping to make up for it by acing the final. I studied for at least 8 hours in preparation for the test–as much as I have studied for any other test, I’m sure–and came out of the testing center feeling horrible about it. The first question had a major typo. Or was it a typo? How was I to know? Don’t they proofread these things? The whole meaning of the question was changed. An entire word was wrong. And things went down hill from there. When I got the score for the test, I was not happy. I knew I didn’t deserve that score. So I called BYU IS and asked them to send the test back so I could review it. I was given 1 hour to look over it and argue for any questions I think I got right. There wasn’t time to make comments on all of them, but I hoped that the fact that over half of the ones I had “missed” we not actually wrong might convince them to go over the test and make sure everything was correct. While I am sure that this is what should have happened, what should happen does not always happen. Independent Study informed me that the professor had looked over the questions I had argued and decided that no changes were warranted. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it. Instead, I had Micah call (I was afraid I wouldn’t be very nice) and ask them if there was anything else I could do. I filed another complaint and asked them to find out from the professor why there were no changes, citing as many specific examples of questions I’d missed but shouldn’t have (even though it had been two months since I’d taken the test).

For months the only thing I heard from them was that the professor was very hard to get ahold of and they would keep trying. (What kind of a system is this?) I wouldn’t hear from them for weeks and weeks, but I refused to give up. Finally, about three weeks ago, they said they had some answers for me. The professor had looked over it, made some comments–including that many of my answers were “okay”–but didn’t award any more points. Excuse me? What does “okay” mean, if not that my answer was acceptable, if not 100% correct? By this point I was almost ready to give it up. But I decided to ask them one more time to find out what “okay” meant and why I didn’t get any more points. (I know, I know. I sound like a grade schooler having a tantrum. “Give me more points! I want more points! Pretty pretty pretty pretty please can I have some more points?”) And finally a few days ago they were able to tell me that I was, indeed, correct. I did deserve more points. Almost all of the ones I had argued for were correct. Unfortunately, it didn’t raise my grade in the course at all. But I just have to wonder what would happen if they went over the whole test–and the midterm too. Would they find more mistakes? I may never know, but I’m willing to bet that they would.

And now come my questions: Who is accountable for the content of the course? If there is no accountability, how do they ensure quality courses? Why does the professor get away with putting together a bad course and not caring about his students? What did my $357.00 of tuition pay for? Should I keep badgering them to look over the tests some more to see if I can get my grade raised?

Yes, it is true, I have graduated. I have my degree. I should move on. It is only bringing my GPA down a little bit, and the grad schools probably won’t care. I think it has been worth the trouble so far, even though my grade didn’t change, if only because I have worked out some of my frustrations towards BYU. Still . . . grrr! for taking so long, for not believing me, for making me do all the work rather than looking into it themselves . . . and then still not taking any initiative after my concerns were validated and I proved it was a bum test.

Any Other Name . . .

Any Other Name . . .

Some people have asked why our blog is titled “the Green Wallet.” Is it some obscure literary reference? Is it a secret code that only those who are “in the know” will understand? Was it inspired by one of our many adventures on the island? And the answer is . . . we really wanted to name it “thuh Grryne Waalytte” but we thought that it would get tired of spelling its name for everyone by the time it was in first grade.

Really, though, the name was inspired by my wallet, which is indeed both a wallet and green. It was sitting on our desk crying out for attention as we were filling out the forms to adopt a blog, and we just couldn’t resist. It looked so cute and helpless. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t crying out for attention or anything. It was just there. We didn’t know what else to do. Micah wouldn’t let me name it anything with a big GRE word (I was going for something about perspicacity–one of my favorite words since my senior year of high school) and we couldn’t agree on anything else. Finally in a moment of frustration I said–and I wasn’t serious–“How about ‘the green wallet?'” (I also unintentionally named my family’s cat, Twinkie, that way. Rest assured that we will be more careful when naming our children.) The suggestion passed even the most stringent of our standards. And that was that.

But, being a sucker for “deeper meaning,” I had to justify that it was a worthy title. So here it goes: a wallet goes with you everywhere. It is your passport to go places and do things. (I’m not going to talk about Visa’s “Life Takes” commercials . . . or Capital One’s “What’s in your wallet?” spots, but you get the idea.) A wallet holds your drivers license, identification, bus pass, money, credit cards, debit cards, insurance cards, cash, coupons, and other miscellaneous items of significant worth only to the owner. I have a note from Micah in mine, he as a picture of a cow I drew and note from one of his nieces in his. Basically, a wallet tells a lot about who you are, from where you live and how you spend your money, to what is important enough to you that you feel that you need to keep it with you at all times. If you look deep enough, a wallet is full of stories, despite the fact that it is one of the more mundane objects we encounter in our lives. Which brings us to the next point . . .

. . . which is, why did we want a blog? Besides that its an easy way to let our families know what we are up to, it gives me something to do when its a slow day at work. More importantly, it gets us to look at our lives to find things that are fun and exciting, or thought provoking, or important to us. And it lets us think about it a little bit more. I know some people who feel that a moment is wasted if they are not doing something wild with their lives, but we feel more that a moment is wasted if we don’t find something interesting in it. Writing it down, making a story or commenting on it, helps us see other things a little bit more clearly and put things in perspective. We hope you enjoy reading about the little stories we find in our everyday lives.

Christmas Craftiness with Aloha

Christmas Craftiness with Aloha

I promised some people I would show them how crafty I can be when I have a large amount of Hawaiian print fabric scraps from the PCC and nothing to do. This is what I came up with to bring a little bit of Chirstmas spirit into our home last holiday season when the sun was shining brightly and we were spending as much time as possible at the beach (life’s rough when you live in Paradise). I know you are jealous that I have the skills and you don’t, but I’d just like to point out that I was unemployed, recently finished with school, and my husband and only friend was at work 8 hours a day. I’m not going to say I was bored, but I will say that I had a little bit of extra time on my hands, and very few resouces. Besides lots and lots of fabric scraps, I used two chopsticks, a small box (which I stuffed with fabric to make it stable) and two straight pins. It’s really amazing what you can do with a little bit of ingenuity. Mele Kalikimaka, everyone!

Pi Pie

Pi Pie

We have a habit, as some of you know, of cooking things. We like to cook, we like to bake, we like to throw what ever is in the fridge into a pot and hope for the best. Sometimes they end up not being very good, but other times they are quite tasty, so we keep doing it. The other habit we have that sometimes fuels the first habit is the habit of trying to find things to celebrate. That means cherry pie on President’s Day (except that cherries are ridiculously expensive here, so they sometimes are substituted by things like butterscotch custard) and chicken pot pie on Pi Day and other kinds of pies whenever we find a holiday worthy of one. Tuesday, as some of you may know, was Pi Day. 3.14. In keeping with the tradition we started last year, we made a chicken pot pie. And this is where our two habits converge.

On Sunday we put together some homemade pasta for a pan of lasagna we were making for guests. We had some leftover noodles (sheets, I should say, since we didn’t cut the pasta at all–they were as wide as our 9 inch pan) that we were going to do something “fun” with. The opportunity arose as we realized the important holiday that Tuesday was, and that we didn’t have time to make a crust since we needed to go running. We adopted a can-do attitude and said to ourselves, “No crust? No problem!” Out came the pasta noodles to line the pie plate. The finished product is on the left. Last years effort is on the right. Both were delicious.

GRE Bee

GRE Bee

As much as I hate to say it, all those Spelling Bee practices I went through as a kid are coming in handy these days. Ask any of my brothers or sisters and they will all tell you that sitting around the kitchen table on weekday nights going through spelling words with my mom is not among their favorite memories. I remember the tears, the crumpled pieces of paper, the endless writing and rewriting of the words I missed. I remember wondering why it was important for me to know how to spell “jacal” (pronounced ha-kal, meaning a thatched roof dwelling made of wattle and daub found in Mexcio and the Southwest US), and secretly being relieved (and maybe a little sad) when, during my eighth grade year (the last I was eligible for the spelling bee) I missed the word “stupefy” at the district bee. I put an “i” where the “e” should have been. It sure “stupefied” me! Ha ha ha! At least I’ll never misspell it again. But there were bright spots and fun times in the early morning drill downs and after school tests. Mostly they had to do with the mnemonic devices we would come up with. I can still hardly look at a mosquito sucking the blood out of my arm with out singing to myself, “Moe the mo-skweet-o” before I take a slap at it.

Now that I am trying to increase my vocabulary in preparation for taking the GRE, I am utilizing the spelling bee techniques again. Micah and I have taken to sitting down for a half an hour here and there to memorize a few words. Micah has the book on his lap and he’ll ask me to define some obscure word. After I struggle with it for a while, racking my brain for any familiar clues (as long as it is not “veracity” for which I can identify the root word “veritas” which means truth–thanks to Harry Potter and Veritas Serum), I give up. Micah will then tell me what it means and I’ll repeat it a few times before looking for ways to use it in my everyday life. Just like I used to do with the spelling words. When possible I resurrect the “Moe the mo-skweet-o” method and come up with super ultra mega creative ways of remembering words: truculent=fierce and cruel. “Truc”–like a monster truck. I hope images of huge tires and sharp teeth painted onto the nose of a truck are coming to your mind.

So when I take the GRE in the next few weeks, rest assured that I will click the mouse with alacrity (eager and enthusiastic willingness), knowing (or hoping, anyway) that my efforts to become erudite (very learned or scholarly) are not totally in vain. I will continue to read perspicaciously (with acute perception, keen discernment) and voraciously ( having an insatiable appetite for an activity or pursuit) so I can find new words to add to my collection.

And years from now, whenever I see a scone, I will picture myself having absconded with it (depart clandestinely, to steal off and hide) to a closet and eating it greedily while the honey drips down my chin.

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds

For those of you who didn’t really pay attention in history class when you learned about American imperialism, Hawaii is a different country. Or was. But, unlike Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, etc., Hawaii is quite isolated from the rest of America and it seems as though a lot of people haven’t quite gotten the memo that Hawaii has been conquered. And to the conqueror go the spoils. There have been more than a few times here when, as haoles (white people or foreigners), we have felt like intruders, unwelcome outsiders. At times we wondered if the “spirit of aloha” only stretched so far and that maybe it didn’t quite reach our end of the skin color spectrum. We have since come to enjoy being part of the minority and like to watch the cultural game as it plays out in front of us. Invariably the most interesting players are the native Hawaiian groups who eschew and protest the Western influence on their culture. They vary in the degree to which they want to return to their roots, some demanding that the United States restore the monarchy and get out of their lives, others wanting to be able to practice their traditions more easily

Here are some of our favorite instances of Hawaiian nationalism:

A woman called the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) after visiting one day, truly upset that they billed themselves as “authentic” in their portrayal of traditional Polynesian culture. How could they do such a thing, she wondered, when none of the women were topless? It was indecent that the culture should be modified in such a way, just to make it more palatable to the public. Speaking of decency . . .

One website we stumbled across in our quest to find out more about what is going on here was concerned by the way Pres. Bush apparently answered the question, “What about Hawaiian sovereignty?” He was curt and impolite. He said that “he did not want to talk about that.” Really? He didn’t want to talk about Hawaiian sovereignty? I mean, its not like there’s a war going on or anything, and this is definitely a national crisis. It should be given the President’s undivided attention.

A drive down Kamehameha Highway will take you past many displays put up by what we affectionately refer to as “the sheet brigade” who are intent on shaming everyone from Sen. Daniel Akaka and the US Supreme Court to t-shirt companies for their role in depriving the Hawaiian nation of its “inherent sovereignty.” While we do not know the name of this organization (they don’t seem to care that anybody knows who they are) we do know that they are strongly in favor of returning to the traditional Hawaiian ways and eschew the Western influence that has deprived them of their rights. They recently held a rally on the grounds of Iolani Palace–one of the most European buildings in Hawaii– which was built by their hero, King Kalakaua–whose major goal was to bring Hawaii into the modern world.

Last week a bill was heard that would make a national monument out of a sandbar in Kaneohe Bay. At low tide the sandbar is a nice place to anchor a boat and play beach volleyball. Last year there were a few concerts on the sandbar and things got a little rowdy, so this year a Senator proposed restricting activity on the sandbar, arguing that it is a sacred place in Hawaii because a chief died there (which there is no evidence of) or because when hula was banned, people used to go there to dance, away from prying eyes (an equally unsubstantiated claim). The bill certainly brought out some passionate debate, including a few Hawaiians who couldn’t express their thoughts in English and spoke in Hawaiian instead (which is perfectly acceptable since Hawaiian is an official state language–but they certainly didn’t convince me of anything).

The PCC received a lot of criticism from native Hawaiian groups for having tikis out in front of the Center. “You can’t just carve tikis,” they complained. Pres. Orgill, president and CEO of the PCC, agreed to meet with them in order to try to resolve their concerns. After listening to them talk about the sacrelige of wooden tikis, President asked them if they realized that the tikis in question were made of styrofoam. Styrofoam is, apparently, an acceptable medium for non-religious tikis. The meeting ended amicably once this was revealed.

On the news last week there was a story about a protest going on at the University of Hawaii by some native Hawaiian groups. They were outraged at the study of genetic modification of taro, the purple tuber that in Hawaiian mythology is the son of the gods or the staff of life. Taro, they believe, is their older brother, and he should not be tampered with by science.

There are a surprisingly large number of people who still refer to Hawaii as a nation, who use any opportunity they can to remind Americans that they don’t own the land (the “aina”), it belongs to their ancestors (who, if I’m not mistaken, were actually Tahitian immigrants). However, we just sit back, smile, and watch the drama unfold.

Disclaimer: These are merely the observations of two cynical haoles. We do not claim to know anything about the issues at stake. We apologize for any and all hypocritical, offensive, or insensitive material.

Once on this Island

Once on this Island

We watch tv. Regularly. Well, once a week anyway. For one hour, we join with millions of our fellow citizens to watch as a group of survivors from an airplane crash uncover the mysteries of the uncharted island they have landed on and puzzle at the strange interconnectedness of their pasts. Several members of the Heiselt side of our family became interested in the show during the first season and highly recomeneded it, but we did not start watching until moving to Hawaii, when it became a “personal interest.” After all, the show is filmed entirely on our little island. The cast and crew are practically our neighbors. We shop at the same stores, we surf the same waves, our non-existant children go to the same schools, we drive the same streets. Yet we didn’t really get into the show until last fall when micah was helping out a film crew that was doing a video for the Polynesian Cultural Center. The sound guy, an elderly, rough-around-the-edges but very nice gentleman named Lou, was also the sound guy for Lost. Following his recommendation, we started watching and were hooked. It has been fun to spot familiar locations in the show, including Laie Inn, and we have also caught them filming around our neck of the woods on several occasions .

Anyway, during water cooler chats at the office micah was able to convince his boss, Ray, that Lost is totally the coolest TV show ever and he should totally watch it because if he didn’t then he would so not be in the know. Ray is really concerned about those kinds of things, so, naturally, he borrowed the first season on DVD and watched all of it within a week (mostly during a three day business trip). He then had to get his Season Two fix and micah became his boss’s Lost Junky, loading two episodes of the show at a time on to Ray’s jump drive, and hoping that the fix would last through the evening so he would not be awakened in the middle of the night by a request for more Lost. Ray’s insatiable appetite for Lost alerted us to an unfortunate situation. The little girl from the tail section of the plane could have really been an asset to her fellow survivors if she had not been abducted by the Others. A few months before the crash, she went to the PCC (as a child model) and learned essential island-survival skills like rubbing sticks together to start a fire, playing Hawaiian checkers, twirling Maori poi balls, playing Fijian bamboo precussion instruments, beating a Tongan drum senseless, and eating bread fruit with a delighted look on her face (which we can assure you is no easy task), all compliments of the Polynesian Cultural Center. We certainly hope the Others are happy.

Honored Teammate

Honored Teammate

As members of Team in Training we are organized into a group of runners who have the goals of bettering themselves and helping those who suffer from blood cancers as well. While most of the team are runners and athletes, we also have a few “honored teammates” who have gone through some of the most difficult and painful things a body can handle: bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and radiation. Running a marathon looks like fun compared to that. We have three honored teammates on our team and none of them are old enough to drive. At our meeting on Tuesday, we met Sarah, a chubby-cheeked three year-old who has been in remission for most of her life. Her mother explained that when they found out Sarah had cancer they met with a social worker who told them that 30 years ago her job had been to prepare parents to say goodbye to their sick children. Now, with the advancements in treatments, her job is to support parents as they worked through treatments that would give their kids an 80-90% chance of having grandchildren themselves. That really impressed us. We were happy to see that the cause we have commited ourselves to is a good and productive one, and that they are really making progress in finding cures for these diseases. Blood cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, largely because of the efforts of organizations like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and it is opening the door to treating other cancers as well. We start our training on Saturday with the hope that it is never our kid, our niece or our nephew that has cancer, and the knowledge that if it is, at least we are doing something about it.