You’re Fired

You’re fired.

These are the words of a famous reality T.V. star who now sits in the oval office.

I have been fired from my market research job with Omnitrak and the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA).

Omnitrak is a market research company that specializes in tracking visitor trends and spending habits. If you hear figures on how much visitors spend in Hawaii, I had a hand in getting those figures. Here’s how it works.

The client — in this case HTA — creates a survey for travellers to fill out. They send it to Omnitrak to print and send out to field interviewers like me. I then take those surveys to Kona International Airport for distribution among travellers, both local residents and out-of-state visitors. They complete the surveys and hand them back to me before boarding their flights. When I get home I have to tally up how many passengers I got on flights leaving Kona before I send off my surveys to Honolulu.

I had a monthly quota of 1150 surveys. Since this was only a part time job I had to go to Kona on the days with the heaviest visitor traffic. Weekends are when most visitors choose to leave Hawaii especially in the mornings.

Kona Airport is also an open air airport. There are no walls at the gates. That is because visitors like to view the beautiful sunrises and sunsets and to take pictures for their Instagram websites. None of the aircraft have jet ways for travelers to walk on. Instead, airport ground staff drive a ramp to the aircraft door so that passengers can disembark in sunny Hawaii.

In other words Kona’s airport is literally an air port. But that also means everyone at the gate is inhaling the exhaust fumes from arriving and departing aircraft. That also means I have jet engines roaring in my ears. I’m also exposed to the elements from the searing sun to the occasional downpour.

I’m also vulnerable to disasters, both natural and man made. So far I’ve weathered the Kilauea eruption as well as Hurricane Lane that blew through Hawaii Island in 2018. I’ve survived Boeing’s MAX 8 problems and I’ve even endured a verbal tit-for-tat nuclear war between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. I even lived through a fake missile attack.

But I could not survive a pandemic.

March 15th, 2020 was my last day at work. That weekend of March 14 & 15 I saw at least 4,000 passengers pass through the Hawaiian Air terminal. At that time no one knew what social distancing was. Is it 2 feet? Six feet?

No one, myself included, was wearing a mask because there was zero leadership from the federal and state governments. I was hoping Governor Ige would ask the President of the United States to ground all travel like what happened after 9-11. I’m also immune compromised. More on my health issues later.

Unfortunately, no one was willing to ground all flights in the U.S. so I had to take matters into my own hands. I e-mailed my boss at Omnitrak saying that I won’t be returning to work until I feel it is safe for me to return.

Since mid February I’ve had several health issues from the flu to a UTI to an arthritis flare up at the end of March. I somehow fractured my right foot from walking my dog. I also had problems with my toes on the same foot. At one point I could not stand up without a cane. I had to ask my sister to do my errands for me. I’ve seen my primary doctor, my dermatologist, as well as my podiatrist several times. On my visit with my podiatrist in June he examined my foot and said that my fracture was close to healing, 90-98% healed. He wanted me to return in July for a follow up visit. I had scheduled July 17 as a follow up visit with my podiatrist.

On July 7th  however, I received an e-mail from Omnitrak. Governor Ige announced that Hawaii would be open to out-of-state visitors August 1st. Omnitrak was planning to jumpstart interviewing operations August 10th at all airports. They needed interviewers to return to work and they needed a response before July 17th.

There’s just one problem. My doctor’s appointment was on July 17th.

I requested for more time to respond. I wanted to make my final decision based on what my doctor advised.

Unfortunately I felt my foot could not heal fast enough. Omnitrak’s response?

“Given the uncertainty of your situation please go ahead & send all materials to me.

*Remaining supply of surveys & reporting forms

*All remaining supplies purchased & reimbursed by Omnitrak

*Uniform(vest & Omnitrak name blade)

*Omnitrak project manual

*Security/sterile area badge

*Parking access cards

Wow!

Never in a million years did I ever dream I could be fired in the middle of a pandemic. That’s just cruel.

Back in March I complained how I wished Ige would ask Trump to ground all travel. When he refused I complained to a friend who said Ige has his hand in the pockets of HTA and the hotel industry.

“It’s all about the Benjamins,” my friend ranted online.

While I understand Omnitrak is in the business of making money for their client, I never thought they would hastily dispose of my services after working for them for four years. I’ve never felt like a disposable coffee cup, dropped in the trash after single use. I never thought Omnitrak would put big business first over the wellbeing of their employees. It is about the Benjamins, Washingtons, and Lincolns that visitors bring. Where are Omnitrak’s priorities? Where is their moral compass? I’ve always said, “you can’t rebuild a shattered economy without workers.”

While I’m glad to be no longer with Omnitrak the way I was fired was done in haste because the state was planning to open Hawaii to visitors August 1st. It has since been delayed to Sept. 1st. In any case we are not yet ready to allow visitors to come to Hawaii.

I’m now in the process of looking for another job. I do have another part time job as a school crossing guard. That job will restart August 4th with the new school year so at least I still have some income. But it is not enough to cover my doctor bills, rent, car insurance, and food. I’m looking into getting another county job as a contact tracer or as a community outreach health worker. Hawaii needs more contact tracers and community health workers for the onslaught of visitors who are hammering our gates just to get in come September 1st.

Good luck!

Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance

I have zero tolerance for racist remarks

I have a rich heritage of 2000 years, culture, and fine arts

I have zero tolerance for those not wearing masks

Please. Stop. Think. Will the human race last?

I have zero tolerance for quarantine breakers

Who flaunt our laws and don’t think of others

I have zero tolerance for those protesting “their” rights

Protecting the health and safety of me, my friends, and family is MY right.

What I Have Learned in Quarantine: Part One

What I Have Learned in Quarantine

I’ve had a difficult quarantine. From the end of February until the middle of April I’ve had a series of health issues ranging from the common flu, to a UTI, to joint problems due to my psoriasis. At one point I could not sleep because the pain in my right foot was too intense. All this is happening in the middle of a pandemic. Not a good time to be sick.

So here is what I learned during this outbreak.

Only You Can Look Out For You

I’ve had to put up a good fight on so many levels. First off I had to fight our leaders to keep Hawaii COVID free. Some of you know I work at the Kona International Airport as a market research interviewer. I would see anywhere from 2 to 4000 passengers on any given weekend. At the beginning of March I’m still recovering from the flu. Since I’m only a part-timer I don’t get medical benefits from my employer. But I do take precautions like bringing my own hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes. I have also taken to emailing Governor Ige to get the President to ground all non-essential travel and to close American airspace like they did after 9-11.

March 15th, however, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When Maui reported it’s first positive case I was so angry that during my breaks I would take photos of travelers at the gates waiting for their flights. I’m doing this just as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is releasing the idea of social distancing.

What the hell is that? There is no social distancing here where I work. People are traveling in groups coughing and sneezing without covering their faces.

When I realized that the governor was not going to ask the president to ground all flights I had to protect myself by leaving my job. Our political leaders don’t give a damn about the health and well being of their constituents like me. They do not understand that there is no economy if there are no people to help rebuild it.

After I completed my last shift I could feel my blood boil and I was seething with anger. I got into my car and as I was pulling out of my parking stall I was crying. I drove to the back of the cell phone parking lot, put my car in park, put my hand brake on, rolled down my window, and started pounding my fists on my steering wheel and punching the air. I may have punched the roof of my car.

“Fuck you, Ige!” I cursed as loud as I could. “Fuck you, Trump!”

I took a few breaths, dried my face as best I could, and drove to Kona Commons. When I got there, I could feel the tears well up again. I decided some shopping therapy was needed. I happened to bump into my friend Jo and her sons,  who saw I had been crying.

“What’s wrong, Jada?”

“I’m just so frustrated with this COVID thing. I’m gonna need some shopping therapy.”

“You go, girl.”

I walked into Bath and Body Works. At one point I nearly knocked over one of their displays because I was such a mess. I ended up purchasing some air fresheners for my car. With all the cursing I uttered, the air needed to be cleaned up.

After shopping at Bath and Body Works I went next door to Daiichi Ramen, my favorite restaurant. I am a regular and go there most weekends after my shifts. The entire staff is from China where I spent 14 years of my life, so going there reminds me of my visits to Aijisen and Yoshinoya, Japanese restaurants chains in China. But since the COVID-19 outbreaks in that country and various Chinese cities shutting down, they’ve hit hard times. They have shared with me how they are trying to keep in contact with their families in China. In addition, I’ve heard stories of Chinatowns around the world that have been affected. Since Hawaii Island doesn’t have a Chinatown, I make it a point to patronize an Asian owned establishment. I figured they would appreciate my patronage and I would enjoy their good food and company.

Two days later, as I’m fighting our leaders online and giving them hell I’m still fighting off my flu and my UTI infection at the same time. When I heard that airport employees were staging anti-visitor protests in Moloka’i, Kahului, and Hilo Airports, I wanted to create a sign, drive back to Kona International Airport, and stage my own protest. But because I still had the flu I could not do that. I had to protect my own health and I didn’t want to infect anyone else with my flu even while practicing social distancing.

I go online to my Facebook page and I start reading news articles and videos about the coronavirus now called COVID-19, I’ve been doing that since its outbreak in China in December of 2019 when it was still called a coronavirus. Any article about Governor Ige’s or Donald Trump’s response to the virus I post a comment about shutting down all non-essential travel. I post about what I see coming through my airport. Turns out there are a lot of people who agree with me including a childhood friend, Mahea, who is just as vocal as I am about Ige’s handling of the coronavirus.

“It’s all about the Benjamins,” Mahea screams out in an online rant referring to the amount of money the tourism industry brings to Hawaii’s economy.

At one point, my friend invited me to share my thoughts on a Hawaiian Sovereignty show which I would have loved to do. But by this time I had a psoriatic arthritis flare up in my right jaw and I could not move my left hand. It hurt to open a can of soup or even type an e-mail.

I was not well. I’ve had to meet my doctors in person or on tele-med meetings. Between the end of February and mid April I’ve had at least six visits or online or telephone meetings which is highly unusual for me. On my second visit to my primary doctor the clinic was in full testing mode. Cars were lined up in the parking lot. I had to tell the parking attendant I had an appointment for something else. When I asked my doctor about getting tested she said, “you don’t need it. You don’t have any of the symptoms.”

Several days later I had to have my sister drop me off at the same clinic because the arthritis had migrated from my jaw and left hand to my right foot. I could not get any sleep and I could not walk without a cane. My primary care doctor was going on vacation so I had to see another doctor who recommended ibuprofen and ice for my foot. After doing that for several days I went back, this time on my own, for a follow up visit.

“Your foot seems to be improving,” she said. “It’s not gout and you didn’t injure it. The only thing I can think of is that it’s due to your psoriatic arthritis.”

I mentioned to her that I was scheduled to meet my dermatologist later in the week.

“Yeah. See what she says.”

A few days later, I had a telephone conference with my dermatologist in Kona. When her assistant called to remind me about our upcoming meeting I told her about my arthritis and the swelling in my foot. My dermatologist sent me my medication through the mail. During our meeting I told her what the other doctors recommended. My dermatologist recommended I continue taking the medication she sent me earlier.

I am happy to report that I am finally on the mend health wise and I don’t have to fight so hard. I hope my next battle will be at the ballot box come this November.

Never in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine fighting a political battle, while fighting to maintain my personal health, and trying to stave off a worldwide pandemic at the same time.

I know there are others who are fighting multiple battles as I am. Perhaps you are fighting a job loss or domestic abuse. Maybe you need medical attention like I did. Or your kids are driving you crazy and you just want some time to yourself. Enjoy a bubble bath. Rock out to your favorite music. Listen to a soothing devotional. Call your doctor and make an appointment. Or enjoy an online shopping spree and buy something for yourself. Do something nice for you because only you can look out for yourself.

Letter to Governor Ige

Aloha Governor Ige,

I watched yesterday’s press conference and I’m very disappointed that you did not take stronger measures to keep Hawaii safe.

I am an airport worker at Kona International Airport. I have had to take leave because there were so many travelers passing through that it is no longer safe for me to work there. I have psoriasis which already puts me at risk for COVID-19. On any given weekend I see anywhere from 2000 to 4000 people passing through. How is keeping our airports for recreational travel safe? How is allowing cruises to sail in Hawaiian waters safe? The only aircraft and ships that should be operational are cargo and emergency ships and aircraft.

My last day of work was March 15th. On that day I took several pictures of visitors passing through because I was so angry that nothing was being done to stop the flow of visitors who could be carrying the virus. My pics are proof that there are just too many who are not taking this seriously!

After my shift ended I went to my car and screamed! I was pounding my fist on my steering wheel and I was crying! This week was my mother’s birthday. Both of my parents are in heaven. I’m so glad they are not here because they are in a better place. I was crying and wishing I were with them because I do not want to get sick!

By keeping all commercial flights and cruises open you are saying to me that visitors come first. People like me? I’m small fry. I don’t matter to you.

Well guess what? I’ve been through SARS and I’ve seen what should be done to curve COVID-19. You are not doing enough! Please close all airports to commercial travel. Do the same for cruises. Start that quarantine now! Start putting up monitoring stations like the ones in China! Make them fill out mandatory health questionnaires. Put the entire state under quarantine! If you really did care for people like me you should have done this a long time ago. So do it now!

Nincompoop Leaders & Irresponsible Travelers

Visitors waiting at Kona International Airport.

Nincompoop Leaders and Irresponsible Travelers

For those of you who read my previous post titled The Chinese Rumor Mill, you know that I’ve lived through the SARS crisis. As you can imagine this coronavirus has really pissed me off. I’ve run the gamut of emotions. But I’m mostly pissed at our leaders both on the state and federal level.

When I first heard of the coronavirus, now COVID-19, it was reported as a mysterious, SARS-like illness. Sound familiar?

I still have friends in China. I follow every Facebook status they post. Some of them went through the SARS crisis in 2003. For me to see my friends go through a similar crisis of being quarantined again is an anxiety that is frustrating.

I have watched as several cities go into lockdown online. I have watched residents in high rise buildings lower empty buckets from a window or a balcony so that groceries could be delivered. I’ve also seen the residents of Wuhan in a neighborhood sing-along to boost everyones’ spirits.

This is not normal!

I have followed the news of several plane loads of foreigners leaving China to escape the clutches of this virus. I cannot help but think I could have been in that precarious situation. I read in agony how one of my friends and his family were forced to leave what they had created in China to return to the US for the sake of their children. I read another friend’s blog outlining their decision to ride the crisis out in China.

I watched the virus spread from China on to the Diamond Princess and the Westerdam and other various cruise ships. I closely followed the news on how the Japanese government made passengers wait while they deliberated on what to do.

I’m watching all this because I’m planning a summer trip to Europe. I have never been there and it has always been my dream trip. I had my airline tickets and hotel booked for Frankfurt. I was scheduled to go on a Rick Steve’s Europe (RSE) tour for two weeks in the summer. I was scheduled to visit Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. I was especially looking forward to going to Austria and the city of Saltzburg. I am a Mozart fan. As a child I’ve always wanted to see Mozart’s hometown. Visiting Saltzburg has always been on my bucket list.

I thought as long as the virus stays in Asia I will still travel to Europe.

That plan went out the window when I heard the northern Italian provinces of Lombardy and Venetto were on lockdown. Since those provinces share a border with Switzerland and Austria this made me nervous. When I was in  Hainan, Guangdong Province was close enough to the SARS crisis.

Austria had also recorded its first positive case. It was a traveler who had been to Lombardy.

When I heard football matches were playing to empty stadiums in Milan, I got on the phone and called my travel agency to cancel my bookings and I had to e-mail RSE and asked if I could postpone the tour for another date.

Two weeks later all of Italy went into lockdown and was added to the State Department’s list of restricted countries. A few days later Spain also went into lockdown and several European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, and Austria closed their borders.

Meanwhile I read that the virus was taking its toll on a care home in Washington State. I had friends who were either moving from or traveling through Seattle. I had no idea if they had been exposed or who they visited. I had no idea what they have been doing for the last two weeks. I get nervous around people when they say they are from Seattle or some other affected area.

I work at an airport. When a travel ban was imposed on all flights from China I tolerated it. There are not a whole lot of visitors from China visiting Hawaii Island. Those Chinese who did come through I had to think:

Perhaps they are overseas Chinese living in the U.S.A. Perhaps they are foreign students.

But anyone who says they are from Seattle, that’s different because there are a lot of direct flights between Hawaii Island and Seattle.

Because of the huge influx of visitors coming through my airport I did not feel safe working there. I had to notify my superiors that I will not be returning until April 3rd, 2020. I also have psoriasis, an underlying health condition. My immune system is already compromised and I cannot risk my health for the sake of my job!

So why impose a travel ban for China, Italy, South Korea, Japan, and Mongolia? Why impose a ban on the U.K. and the rest of Europe but none in the U.S? Why are flights and cruises still allowed to fly or sail in U.S. borders when officials know that the virus can travel with an infected passenger?

It all comes down to incompetent leaders both at the Federal and State level.

And it also comes down to irresponsible travelers.

First off, to President Trump. You’ve always wanted to be an authoritarian leader. Now is the time to be one. We don’t need a half assed response to a worldwide crisis like this one. This is not a hoax! This is real! You have the power to ground all flights and dock all ships! If a president can halt all travel in the aftermath of 9-11, then a president can certainly stop all travel to prevent the spread of a virus. Yes, our economy will tank and my home state will be affected. But it is better to put the health of Americans first over the economy.

To Governor Ige.

I regret voting for you. While I can forgive you for forgetting your Twitter password in our fake missile crisis, I cannot forgive you for allowing visitors to visit my island home in the middle of this crisis. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what needs to be done. Shut down all commercial flights and cruises. Period.

To both leaders.

Leaders lead. Leaders need to take drastic, sometimes unpopular actions. Ironically some of my American friends in China are glad they stuck it out because they hear the President and their state governors are not taking this virus seriously. This is serious!

To all travelers.

DON’T!

You may be young and healthy. You may have a robust immune system. You may even be heading to a place that is corona free. But it’s not about you or the place you hope to visit. It’s the person next to you. Unless you know everyone on that plane or ship you have no idea where they have been in the last 14 days. You have no idea if they have visited a sick friend. You don’t know a thing about them. Likewise, they know nothing about you and your travel history and whereabouts. Please practice social distancing by at least postponing your trip. It’s not worth getting that discounted ticket only to find that all the attractions you were planning to check out are closed. It’s not worth it if all the souvenir shops you were planning to hit are shut down. And it’s not worth the risk of returning home to your loved ones with that virus. Please stay home. Reconnect with your family. Build your community to make it a better, safer, and healthier place to live.

Visitors at Kona International Airport

The Chinese Rumor Mill

Abraham Lincoln once spoke of a government “of the people”, “by the people,” and “for the people.” Governments around the world, whether they are democratic or autocratic, are accountable to those whom they govern.

Here in the U.S. we are privileged to have a democratically elected government chosen by us. Therefore the leaders we choose are answerable to us. We also have a vibrant press who ask, on our behalf, questions of accountability when our country faces a crisis. We don’t know how lucky we are in this country to have this privilege.

I was in Hainan, China at the end of 2002. I was sitting in the home of a fellow American chatting with other foreign expats about the latest news — or lack of. One of my friends — I’ll call Robert — had just returned from a short trip to Guangzhou.

“There is a mysterious illness going around,” he said. “People are also buying vinegar like crazy!”

I had no idea what the connection was between this illness and vinegar. There were no reports on this and as a foreigner, I was at a disadvantage because of the language barrier. I could only go by what Robert and other friends were saying. The press remained mum because of a news blackout.

Since there was no news about this mystery illness, I decided to do a little investigation on my own. After hearing about the vinegar run on shops in Guangzhou, I wanted to know if there would be any vinegar in my local store in Haikou, Hainan’s provincial capital. Guangdong is just an hour’s boat ride from Hainan, so I wondered if the phenomena had spread. On my next trip to D.C. Cheng I checked out the condiment aisle. All the black vinegar was gone. What was left were just one or two bottles of white vinegar. At least that part of Robert’s story was true.

But I still didn’t get the connection between this outbreak and vinegar.

Am I missing something? I thought.

Meanwhile life marched on. I taught my classes as usual. I met up with my same group of expats for church on Sundays. No news is good news, right?

Then in February of 2003 all hell broke loose. On February 10th, according to Wikipedia, the Chinese government reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) that there were 305 cases of this disease of which 105 of them included health care workers. Out of these cases 5 people died.

The first victim of this disease was a farmer in Foshan, a suburb of Guangzhou, who contracted this illness in November 2002, about the time of Robert’s trip. I was a moderator of TEFLChina, a Yahoo support group for foreigners living in China. Several of my fellow foreign teachers in Guangzhou were posting what they knew about this case including a teacher who was working in Foshan.

But no one had any idea what this virus was or what was being done about it until the news ban was lifted and reported to  WHO officials in Beijing. WHO officials wanted to visit the affected area but the Chinese government barred them from doing so. That was when I, and the rest of the world, found out what we were dealing with and the word feiyuan was uttered for the first time.

SARS.

It was also around this time that SARS had gone global when one of those doctors in Guangzhou travelled to Hong Kong for a family wedding and thus spreading the virus to other guests in the hotel he was staying in and to other hospital workers in Hong Kong.

The next thing I know stores and pharmacies were running short of masks and vinegar. I finally got the missing link to my puzzle. It was widely rumored black vinegar kills the SARS virus. I remember walking into a Bank of China to deposit my salary and I could tell the bank got a cleaning job because of the smell.

By March and April the disease had quickly spread to other countries and other Chinese cities including Beijing where people were trying to show off their fashionable masks despite the city wide quarantine. I saw pictures of women wearing Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck masks hamming it up for the camera.

Hainan was one of the few provinces that were SARS free. Nonetheless, my school imposed a semi-quarantine on campus. Students were not allowed to leave campus for two weeks. Only faculty and staff were allowed to leave campus as they pleased. Students had to have family or teachers bring things in. Or they had to put up with stale cafeteria food. Or they had to go to the campus grocery store.

Very few of my students wore masks. I had gotten a pair of masks from a colleague and for the first week after the blackout was lifted I wore those masks. I’d wear one and wash it in the evening and let it dry out overnight. 

I hated wearing them! I had difficulty breathing through them and I thought this isn’t natural for a human being to wear a mask!

I gave up and stopped wearing them. Thankfully all of my students were from Hainan and none of them travelled to mainland China for the Lunar New Year.

Still, all over China, including Hainan, health officials were sent to every bus and train station, air and seaport to monitor travellers’ health. News organizations, both Chinese and foreign, showed health workers monitoring travellers by pointing scanners at peoples’ foreheads. If their temperature was above 37.5 celsius or 99.5 fahrenheit, they were immediately taken to a health care facility.

For everyone else, they just had to fill out a questionnaire.

I had to go through such a procedure. In June of 2003 I had a job interview at another school in Wuzhishan, a small town in central Hainan.

Leaving Haikou was relatively easy. I just purchased a ticket and boarded my bus.

Arriving in Wuzhishan, however, was a different story. As soon as I got off my bus a nurse pointed a scanner at my forehead and read my temperature.

Normal. But there is nothing more unnerving than having a stranger in a mask pointing a gun at your head.

Then she gave me a short questionnaire to complete. In Chinese, of course. She had no idea that I was an American and that I could not read Chinese fluently. Thankfully I could read some of the characters and make an educated guess.

Question one. In the last 14 days have you visited anyone who was sick?

Question two. Have you encountered live animals at a local wet market?

Question three. Do you have any cold or flu-like symptoms?

Question four. Do you have a fever?

I ticked off “no” to all these questions before submitting my survey.

I left Hainan in May of 2005 just as China was declared SARS free. As I passed through Hong Kong customs I had to have my temperature read while standing in line waiting for the traveller in front of me to go through customs. But instead of having a gun-like scanner pointed at my forehead I had to stand on a spot on the floor that was marked with a pair of footprints. Above the customs desk was a monitor that recorded travellers’ body images and temperatures. No survey. If your temperature was normal you’d be allowed through. If not, you’d be singled out and sent to a hospital for further examination.

With this experience you would think the Chinese government would have learned from its mistakes.

Wrong!

When Dr. Li Wenliang tried to report the Coronavirus, now called COVID-19, to local health authorities in Wuhan, he was told to stop spreading rumors. When citizen journalists Chen Jiushi and Fang Bin started reporting on what was happening inside Wuhan hospitals and posting their videos online, they were visited by police.

And, in Chen’s case, he has since disappeared. Rumor has it that he was forced into quarantine, but I’m guessing at this time he is in jail for his actions.

Once again the Chinese rumor mill is churning.

Everytime our local officials give press conferences I am grateful they are trying to be accountable to the public. I’m grateful to the press for asking the tough questions on my behalf. And I am most grateful for our county officials sending out warnings and information because I know what it’s like to have to go on falsehoods and rumors. It is their job to state the facts and give us credible information.

Recently I saw a video on Facebook from the South China Morning Post. The video showed Chinese students who are studying in New York, memorializing Dr. Li and protesting on the street. At first I thought they’re crazy! They could get their families back home arrested!

But then I thought they’ve got guts. If they are allowed to return to China they could demand accountability for their people and share their American right to free speech and a free press with the rest of China.

I throw in my lot with these students. It’s time to tell the truth.

2020 Cherry Blossom

How to make mochi
Vendors setting up
Saying a prayer for a safe celebration
Country Line Dancing
Country Line Dancing
Bon Dancing
Young Taiko Players
Bon Dancing
Feeding the Lion
Feeding the Lion
Feeding the Lion
Feeding the Wise Man
Following the Wise Man
Mochi Pounding Demonstration
Mochi Pounding Demonstration
Getting the demo on film
Mochi Pounding Demonstration
Antique Sewing Machine at the Quilt Show
Local Performers
The Crowd
Crowd Favorite Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko
Taishoji Taiko

Asian Fix 2020

It’s that time of year again! Time to get my fix of all things Asian. I will be hitting the Queens’ Marketplace for the Chinese New Year to welcome in the Year of the Rat. This is followed by Waimea’s own Cherry Blossom Festival the next day. For more info please visit Queens’ Marketplace at https://www.queensmarketplace.net/events/asian-fest/ and Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Waimea-Cherry-Blossom-Heritage-Festival-195555713803758/.

See you there and Gong Xi Fa Cai!