Off to Oahu

After nearly a year here on Molokai, we are finally headed to Honolulu. This place has the physical beauty factor in spades, but it will be nice to have the amenities of civilization. Here there are zero (as in 0, null, nill) restaurants, hair stylists, sake stores, manicurists, etc. Thus, the convenience of a modern, post-industrial society will be well received despite the occasional honking horn, traffic jam or ambulance. (The fact of having ambulances is a good thing that should not be overlooked, either.) So, we will enjoy the views and beauty a few times before we depart.

Over the coming weeks, we will reflect upon our stay here. Right now, we are just in packing mode.

Pali Rainbow

I drive home for dinner after a visiting a resident at home. It is quiet here. It is always quiet here. No blaring music, honking cares, sirens, loud voices, or traffic jams. I know each person I pass on the road and we wave to one another. As I turn down my street, looking left, a wide-arced rainbow graces the sky next to the pali (cliff). How can one NOT stop and ooh and aah? In fact, I see others in the settlement doing the same; walking onto the street, looking in the same direction. Rainbows have a way of bringing us outside in unison; pointing our cameras all in the same direction, hoping to capture for eternity a moments dazzling light show.

Pali Rainbow

Rainbows are everywhere here. I have never seen so many…ever. Appearing suddenly, I struggle to take the perfect picture, sometimes missing the brilliant hues for want of the BEST rainbow picture ever. There’s something hopeful, fresh, and dynamic about the phenomenon of light reflecting and refracting through water droplets in the atmosphere; a simple, spontaneous gift of the moment, in a very beautiful place.

Kate

Geo-coding with John

My days off in the settlement are usually spent at the beach or hiking the pali (cliffs) to go to topside for groceries and errands. Today, however, John invited me to the coast to assist him in photographing rare, endemic Hawaiian plants that are being reintroduced into the landscape. I have heard about “geocaching”, finding treasures with gadgets but never experienced first-hand how it works.

J1

John has a wrist device that looks like a watch with a large red dial. This gadget is a GIS unit which reads the satellite broadcasts and outputs it via Bluetooth to his tablet. Thus, with an inexpensive device, any tablet or phone can know the exact location of where we stand. On his tablet, he has a mapping application which displays where we are on the map along with the location of the plants. Getting to the plants is easy because as we walk closer to the plant, the dot on the screen that represents the plant gets closer and closer to where we are on the map. This allows us to walk right over to the area, within a few feet, of where the plant is. Without the equipment, it is a painful process to walk around in circles looking for small plants on the rocky, wind-swept coast that is covered with many other plants. Once we find the plant we are looking for, I photograph the plant and call out the tag number. He enters the tag number and time into a notebook. Some of the plants have flourished while others have perished in the harsh elements. It takes several hours to record the data which is similar to going on an Easter egg hunt except the prize is a healthy, thriving plant.

Tetramalopium
Tetramalopium

What I enjoy about the day is being outdoors on the beautiful wind swept peninsula and searching for and recording endangered species plants. The coast reminds me of the tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park; the harsh conditions providing hospitality only to plants and trees that have adapted to harsh winds. Late in the day, we see a juvenile monk seal resting amongst the lava rocks and carefully bypass her siesta as we search for shells. Joining John in his volunteer work for the National Park has been rewarding and fun, and a great way to spend the day in Kalaupapa National Park.

SesbaniaTomentosa
Sesbania tomentosa

Spring has returned

Spring in Hawaii is different than the mainland. The temperature is pretty much the same, but the rain showers are less frequent and shorter, and there is less moisture in the air and so the sky takes on a different quality. More blue, less grey.

Anyway, I’ve been working hard on concepts like Mallow’s CP and linearizing regression algorithms for non-linear equations. Kate went to the beach to look for shells, and she took this photo.

Paradise

Nene

A rare and endangered nene bird came to Kalaupapa Molokai. The biologists were discussing its arrival and I thought it might be nice to take a photo of this rare event. They haven’t yet started to inhabit the settlement though the thought is that the conditions are good for its natural introduction. It is an evolutionary derivative of the Canadian Goose from about 500,000 years ago.

Nene2

Nene

Other Penang Photos

Here are a few other photos from our last day in Penang. I’ll keep the descriptions to a minimum.

FloatingMosque
The so-called Floating Mosque. It’s a mosque built upon pillars so that it is over the water. The caretakers were open to visitors, and, consequently, this was the first mosque in which I had entered the prayer room (which follows).

PrayerRoom

RecliningBuddha
Reclining Buddha (Thai Buddhist temple). The most interesting thing about this building (other than the giant Buddha) was that it also served as a mausoleum. Thousands of urns with ashes line the four walls and the room beneath the Buddha.

Monks
Thai Buddhist monks asking Kate for money.

CatWallMural
Street art photo from the evening before. Taken with a flash at night, but enhanced in Photoshop. You may notice in the post done a few days before that the other artist was playing off this image in his piece of street art.

Burmese Temple

I saw many different religious buildings while in Penang. The one that I thought was particularly interesting was the Burmese Buddhist temple. Here’s a photo of one of he main Buddhas with Kate in the photo to show scale.

KateBuddha

The first thing that stood out was the fact that the temple was instructive to the visitor. Many painted panels showed the story of the Buddha through his many trials and spiritual accomplishments. This was starkly different from all of the other religious buildings which had no such instruction. Not only did you have the painting, but there was a descriptive title plaque. Sort of like stained glass that you see in churches that tell Christ’s story, only with descriptions.

The second thing was its global approach. In many parts of the temple complex there were Buddhas or plaques representing the countries of the world where Burmese Buddhism (or maybe just Buddhism) is primarily practiced. Definitely a feeling of inclusiveness even though most countries went unrepresented. Again, this was a stark contrast to the other religious buildings.

Lastly, there were practicing monks that would give one a blessing. At the Thai Buddhist temple across the street, the monks asked for money. In the Chinese Buddhist temples, there was considerable commerce going on with candles and incense for sale. At the Burmese place, the gift shop was down the hall and off to the side. You get the idea.

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