What Hawaii Is to Me

(The following is a paper I wrote for my Hawaiian Studies class over 4 years ago, but it is all from the heart and true still.)

Hawaii is home. I was born on Oahu in Honolulu, where I lived for my first 26 years. It did not take long for me to find out what a melting pot of cultures Hawaii is, and struggled to find where I fit in. Being considered “haole” my whole life, I was often picked on and ridiculed by others. I tried to not let this get to me as a youth. I was busy falling in love with Hawaii and all it had to offer in beauty and culture. I noticed that I was living among Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Samoan, Tongan, Portuguese, Hawaiian and others as well as mixes of each. I found that Hawaiian and Chinese was a very common mix among Hawaiians that I knew growing up. I spent much time at the many beautiful beaches, hiked mountain ridges and swam under waterfalls, enjoying and eventually taking for granted my surroundings.

My father was a professor at the University of Hawaii in the department of Zoology. He embraced the Hawaiian culture after moving to Kaneohe from Texas. He bought and taught himself ukulele and played and sang for me as a child. This inspired me to learn to play and sing Hawaiian music myself. Some of the music was more jazzy than traditional Hawaiian, and I would learn later that it was the foreign influence on Hawaiian popular music that brought forth songs like “The Hukilau Song”, and other songs in English that were not originally sung in Hawaiian.

I was a city boy, and either caught the bus, walked or rode a bike to get where I was going, since having a car in Hawaii was more of a luxury than a necessity for us as a family. I had to know the streets of Honolulu well so I would not get lost. I came to know the streets of Makiki , McCully, Moilili, lower Manoa, Kapiolani, Kaimuki and Waikiki very well, down to how long each traffic light would take to change. I also knew where to get the best cracked seed snacks and plate lunches and shave ice. We never made a trip back from the North Shore without going through Haleiwa to stop at Matsumoto’s for shave ice. As a youth, I figured everyone in the world took their shave ice with azuki beans at the bottom!

I found out through a handful of trips to “the mainland” to visit family in Texas that there were a LOT of things I enjoyed in Hawaii that were not available anywhere else. I remember the frustrated look on the face of the cashier at a McDonald’s in Texas when I kept trying to describe my breakfast order of Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice. Things are different outside of Hawaii. This made Hawaii even more special to me. I miss it when I am not there.

I embrace being a “local”: I learned and spoke pidgin and proper Hawaiian phrases, as well as proper English, I participated in May Day ceremonies, sacrificed my physical health for “ono grinds” and gave and received hundreds of leis in my life there so far. I brag about my heritage to others, even though I do not have any Hawaiian blood literally running through my veins. To me, what matters is being able to say that I have the Aloha Spirit, which is palpable to anyone who tries to see it or feel it. I am proud to be from one of the hubs of the Pacific and the world, “The Gathering Place” of Oahu.

The 12 Days of Christmas – A Photo Project

It’s Christmas Day! And this photo meme comes to an end.

The link below will take you to the results of my 12 days of Christmas photo meme. I took the challenge from Ladybug Heather, although I think sh meant we were supposed to take all 12 pictures and post them at once. Since I like anticipation more than the event itself (typically), I decided to spread it out on the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

The order changes, due to each post being promoted to the top of my stream each time it is liked or commented on, but they are all there.

I got lazy on most of them. And I didn’t even try to make any of them Christmasy…just making sure they made the right number. Not sure if I will be able to compete with the folks doing the 100 day photo challenge next year. :p

Anyway, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my Christian friends, and Happy Holidays to everyone!


Meme Link: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=Twelve+Days+of+Christmas+meme&who=joshhaley

New FriendFeed Podcast – FFundercats

What did you do yesterday? Yeah? Cool. Oh, me? Nothing. Except I maybe launched a podcast with 2 friends from opposite corners of the earth: John Worthington of Brisbane, Australia and Mark Wilson of London, Ontario, Canada. Yeah.

I have neglected this blog sorely, yes. But now I’m here, so zip it!

I have been over at FriendFeed for the past 6 months or so. It’s more fun. It’s way easier to post stuff and you get to actually have people read what you write for a change, and they write you back. It’s amazing stuff.

So we created a podcast to get into the various aspects of FriendFeed and what makes it tick and why we love it and how to get the most out of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.


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Dearest Zoe,

Zoe Day 1
Happy 6 Months Old Day, Zoe!

Precisely 6 months ago, and also on a Saturday, you came screaming into this world, strong yet so fragile. I held my breath as you took your first. I loved you instantly.

Your smile and captivating eyes have brought me and the whole family an extraordinary amount of joy. You greet me every day with a look of recognition and cheer, and I am a Daddy anew. Your tiny presence fuels our home with energy and happiness.

Your sister and brothers also love you, almost too much, if there were such a thing. They actually get into fights over who gets to hold you and play with you next. Yes, I love them as well, and they were once as tiny as you.

I couldn’t wait for 12 months to write this letter to you, my youngest child and lovely daughter. You inspire me to rise to the privilege of being your father.

You are equally one of the 5 most beautiful things I have ever seen on this wonderful planet.

I pray that I will be able to be there for you and guide you into becoming the wonderful girl and woman you want and ought to be.

I love you,


I Just Started A Fire and Vanquished A Demon

I started a fire today. It was neccessary. The stupid thing was asking for it. For days now, this thing has brought nothing but sorrow and pestilence to our household. It made the strongest of my children shriek with terror when she felt the chilling effects of this unwanted beast.

My patient wife spent the days biding her time, waiting for me to burn the monster that was terrorizing our family. Today was finally the day.

I armed myself and made it cautiously into the attic. I could feel its presence. I flipped on the light. I slowly turned my head and it was right there in my face breathing a foul stench right on my face. I remained calm, as I knew it couldn’t do anything to me unless directly provoked.

I leaned closer toward it, the smell growing stronger. I readied my torch and slowly made my way around the menace. While in its blind spot, I leaned in and thrust my torch into it’s belly. Nothing. I missed the sweet spot. I regrouped, wiped the sweat from my forehead, took a deep breath of sweltering air, held it and this time slowly advanced my weapon. FWOOOSH! Gotcha. The beast knew I was there now, and I had only seconds to get out before I was burned along with it.

I clumsily sealed the opening I had made, put out my torch, rose to my feet, and…silence. There was one more thing to be done, to assure the beasts demise. I needed to increase the size of the small flame I had just started. I reached down to the foot of the monster and turned the dial. KA-FWOOOOM! This noise and the new light shining in the attic was proof enough that my job was done.

There were shouts of joy and praise in the house upon my return. Never before had they seen such an act of heroism or bravery.

I re-lit the water heater.