Friday, April 29, 2011

Hawaii style house kit appeal

After living on the Big Island for over three years now, we are still surprised at the large number of “cold climate” style houses that are built in Hawaii. While looking for lava xenoliths at Kiholo beach recently, I marveled at  a huge ocean front mansion with no eaves to keep direct sunlight from beaming into the windows and not a single window that opened to let in the fresh ocean breezes. Further down the beach is a house that is almost the opposite known locally as “the Bali house”. It is completely open to the air and was built with logs from the Indonesian Island of Borneo, but since this part of Hawaii is drier than Indonesia, the logs shrunk and split requiring extensive retrofitting. We continue to study house designs that take into consideration the costs of building, the long term cost of ownership, minimizing utilities, with the best architecture for the Hawaii climate. When we add it all up, Hawaii style house kits continue to have great appeal both for functionality and overall costs.

The most comfortable houses in Hawaii are designed to keep the living space cool and bug free. Long overhanging roofs that cover large lanais are popular in local houses because they keep the sun from shinning directly into the windows and heating up the house. They also allow all the windows to be open all the time, even in driving rain without water splashing into the house. Large, open interior spaces maximize air flow. The popular pier and beam construction in Hawaii raises the house above the damp ground and can add protection from bugs. Most Hawaii style house kits use these design elements to keep the house cool, bug free, and minimize the need for air conditioning.

Another benefit of using a local Hawaii style house kit is that the materials are kept on the island so if a building part is broken or missing during construction, you don’t have to wait for a shipment from the mainland. Local construction crews have experience building the popular versions of the houses and the county permit process is often smoother since the blue prints are well known by those on the zoning committees.

HPM’s Lauhala house design is our favorite with 1345 square feet, including 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, plus another 450 square feet of covered lanai. The cost of building a house kit can vary a lot depending on how much of the work you do yourself. In 2005, I met a family with two teenage boys that built the Lauhala house kit in 60 days. They claimed their cost of construction (excluding living expenses) was $42,000, which was basically the cost of the house kit. This didn’t include the water catchment or septic system or the cost of connecting to electric, land etc. It did include several upgrades to the materials used for the large lanai and kitchen counter tops. It may not be a typical scenario since the Dad and his sons had some minor building experiences, but the house turned out great even though it was the family’s first attempt at building a kit. The same kit has risen in cost to $61,400 and, according to HPM, they are planning to raise the price even further in the next couple of weeks.

To get a contractor to build a kit house, versus building it yourself, adds significantly more costs. Contractors that I spoke to projected the following charges in addition to the cost of the house kit itself:

  • Security at the building site– around the clock for 60 days at $17 an hour = $24,480.
  • Fuel costs - getting crews to and from a remote site at 3 trucks a day for 40 days of construction = $9,000. (this is likely to be substantially higher with the rising cost of gas).
  • Construction workers - 4 workers x 40 hours a week for 8 weeks at $25 to $35 an hour (net cost includes social security, tax, workers comp, sick days, lics, other worker costs) = $32,200 to $44,800
  • Contractor costs of management, risk, and profit = $40,000
The total cost in this case comes to $140,000 plus the cost of the kit and other costs assuming no delays due to weather or lack of workers. Building some or part of the kit yourself or even living on the site to provide security and support can make a big difference in defraying the costs of the construction making a house kit a more affordable option.

If you are thinking about building in Hawaii, check out HPM’s house designs to get an idea of popular features for the Hawaii climate. HPM currently offers 14 house kits many of which have the best Hawaii style designs we have seen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Merrie Monarch Festival

The 2011 Merrie Monarch Hula festival started Sunday, on a bright sunny Easter day in Hilo Hawaii. The Ho’olaule’a (music festival) started the hula filled week with local Halau’s showing off their hula. The event showcased hula talent under the direction of well known Hula Kumu’s Johnny Lum Ho, Emery Aceret, Meleana Manuel, Sammye-Anne Young, Lori Lei Shirakawa, Kimo Kekua, Tiffany Dela Cruz, Ha'akumalae, Kekuhi Keali'ikanaka'oleohaililani and Manaiakalani Kalua.

Here are a few highlights of the performances from Sunday in the civic auditorium.

Johnny Lum Ho's Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua

Kumu Emery Acert's Halau Nae Pua O Uluhaimalama

The rest of this week is packed with free events in Hilo including the Ho’ike on Wednesday night, activities at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, daily hula demonstrations at Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and Hawaii Naniloa Volcanoes Resort, and the grand finale parade through downtown on Saturday. There are also numerous arts and craft fairs around town. Of course, the big events are the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening hula competitions which we plan to watch live on TV. Below is a detailed schedule for the rest of the week.

Tuesday April 26:

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshop: Mōhalu Nāpua Makua - 10:00-11:30AM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner for “Best Female Vocalist” (2008), Nāpua Makua will perform mele from her newest album, Mōhalu.

• Hula Free Demonstration : Unukupukupu --Kumu Taupori Tangaro - Noon Hawaii Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau O Mailelaulani --Kumu Maile Canario - 1:00PM Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops: ‘A‘a i ka Hula: A Contemporary Drama of the Historical Perspectives of Hula - 1:00-2:30PM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Hula is a Hawaiian language contemporary hula drama that will be presented by the 9th-11th graders of Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u. A historical journey through the ancient and modern nuances of the art of hula.

• Native Hawaiian Art Exhibit: Noon to 8:00PM - Merrie Monarch Festival Office

Wednesday April 27:

• Hawaiian Invitational Arts & Crafts Fair: 8:30AM to 5:00PM - Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

• Craft Fair 9:00AM to 5:00PM - Hilo Shopping Center with local crafts and local food

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops: What is ‘Ūniki? - 10:00-11:30PM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Hōkūlani Holt has been the Kumu Hula for Pā‘ū O Hi‘iaka on Maui for 35 years now.

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau Hula O Kou Lima Nani E -- Kumu Iwalani Kalima - 11:00AM Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau Na Lei Hiwahiwa 'O Ku'ualoha -- Kumu Sammye-Anne Young - Noon Hawaii Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

• Hula Free Demonstration : Ke Ola O Nae Kuepuna -- Kumu Haunani Medeiros - 1:00PM Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops: From Pā‘ū o Hi‘iaka - 1:00-2:30PM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Hōkūlani Holt, Lono Padilla, Robert Ka‘upu & ‘Ulalia Woodside - A panel of Kumu Hula will discuss their experiences in ‘ūniki, the traditional form of passage by which a dancer becomes a master of Hula.

• Native Hawaiian Art Exhibit: Noon to 8:00PM - Merrie Monarch Festival Office

• Ho'ike Night Free exhibition : Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium

6:00PM - Entrance of Royal Court

6:15PM - National Anthem and Hawai'i Pono'i by Ka Leo Wai, the Waiakea High Hawaiian Ensemble, Kawika Urakami

6:25PM - Pule (prayer) by Kahu Wendell Davis

6:30PM - Halau O Kekuhi - Kumu Naelani Kanaka'ole

7:30PM - Marshallese Iakwe Club - University of Hawaii at Hilo

8:00PM - Merahi O Tapiti -Tiffany Dela Cruz

8:45PM - Te Tu Mataora, Haimona Maruera and Kiritiana Hautapu-Fonotoe from New Zealand

(Get in line early - The best seats go quickly and and no one is allowed to enter during the royal court entrance or Pule from 6:00-6:30PM)

Thursday April 28, 2009:

• Hawaiian Invitational Arts & Crafts Fair: 8:30AM to 5:00PM - Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

• Craft Fair 9:00AM to 5:00PM - Hilo Shopping Center with local crafts and local food

• Hawaii Arts and Crafts and Food Festival in Sangha Hall Kilauea Avenue 9:00AM-5:00PM

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau Hula Ke 'Olu Makani O Mauna Loa -- Kumu Meleana Manuel, - 11:00AM Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops Ka Lei Puakenikeni - 10:00-11:30AM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Hilo raised Mark Yamanaka soulfully bridges country ballads and Hawaiian falsetto. He will perform songs from his debut solo album.

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau O Kawaenanakoa -- Kumu Alberta Nicolas - Noon Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau O Kou Lima Nani E -- Kumu Iwalani Kalima - 1:00PM Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops Performance by UNUKUPUKUPU - 1:00-2:30PM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Dr. Taupōri Tangarō and Kumu Mānaiakalani Kalua, associated with Hawai‘i Community College, will perform didactic hula.

• Miss Aloha Hula Competition: 6:00PM to midnight Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium and televised by KITV. Tickets needed.

Friday April 29, 2009:

• Hawaiian Invitational Arts & Crafts Fair: 8:30AM to 5:00PM - Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

• Craft Fair 9:00AM to 5:00PM - Hilo Shopping Center with local crafts and local food

• Hawaii Arts and Crafts and Food Festival in Sangha Hall Kilauea Avenue 9:00AM-5:00PM

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops An Artistic Collaboration: Hula and Kapa: 10:00-11:30AM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - An artistic collaboration between a hui of contemporary kapa makers and Halau O Kekuhi has resulted in a showcase of Hawaiian kapa in its functional, cultural and traditional use and form.

• Hula Free Demonstration : Ke Ola O Nae Kupuna -- Kumu Haunani Medeiros - 11:00AM Civic Auditorium

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau O Kawaenanakoa -- Kumu Alberta Nicolas - Noon Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

• Hula Free Demonstration : Halau Ha'a Kea 'O Akalae -- Kumu Paul Neves - 1:00PM Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

• Merrie Monarch Festival Free Workshops Papa Hula Workshop - 1:00-2:30PM 'Imiloa Astronomy Center - Kumu Hula Nani Lim Yap will lead a workshop on the basic movements of a simple hula.

• Group Hula Kahiko Competition : 6:00PM Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium and televised by KITV. Tickets needed.

Saturday April 30:

• Hawaiian Invitational Arts & Crafts Fair: 8:30AM to 5:00PM - Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium

• EGplants Craft Fair on Banyon Drive in the vacant lot next to Reeds Bay 8:30AM-3:00PM

• Hawaii Arts and Crafts and Food Festival in Sangha Hall Kilauea Avenue 9:00AM-5:00PM

• Merrie Monarch Royal Parade : starting at 10:30AM in downtown Hilo

• Hula Free Demonstration : Toa Here --Romi Salvador - Noon Civic Auditorium

• Group Hula 'Auana Competition: 6:00PM Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium and televised on KITV. Tickets needed.

Go to hiloliving's Merrie Monarch page for more information and links to pictures and videos.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mushrooms and neuropathy

This is the story of our discovery of Lion’s Mane, a unique mushroom that has been shown to regenerate nerve tissue. Loss of nerve tissue, or neuropathy, is a common side effect to numerous ailments and those that suffer from it have been told by their doctors’ that there is no cure.

Peripheral neuropathy is the slow progression of nerve loss or damage usually starting in the feet or extremities brought on by aging as well as diabetes, high blood pressure, injuries, metabolic problems, vitamin deficiencies, infections (like Hepatitis, Lyme disease, and shingles), autoimmune diseases (like AIDs, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis), kidney disease, underactive thyroids, exposure to toxins, tumors, alcoholism, or basically anything and everything. The symptoms are loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, weakness, and pain. The numbness is unpleasant but also dangerous because with numb feet a person can’t feel it when they walk on a stone or get cut so a severe infection can occur.

When my neighbor, who suffered from severe and spreading peripheral neuropathy in his feet, told me that he had been told that there was no cure, I considered that to be a sort of challenge and started researching for something that might help. We soon found a study that showed that Lion’s Mane mushrooms had been found to help neuropathy by regenerating nerves, something the medical world believes to be impossible.

Lion’s Mane, or Hericium Erinaceus, has been known for its curative effects in China for centuries. It is also called Monkey’s Head, Pom Pom Blanc, Beard mushroom and Icicle mushroom. It gets its names from the long thin hairs that grow from its center making it look like a pom pom or head of white hair. Ancient herbalists promised nerves of steel and the memory of a lion to those allowed to eat the precious white mushroom. It has long been known to cure problems of the digestive tract such as ulcers and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. But research in Japan, by Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi at Shizoka University, has shown that Lion’s Mane actually stimulates the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a protein molecule discovered by Rita Levi-Montalcini and isolated by Stanley Cohen, for which they jointly received the 1986 Nobel Prize due to its significance in stimulating nerve growth and aiding those with cognitive impairments. Lack of NGF is thought to be one of the major causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Kawagishi isolated the molecules in Lion's Mane that stimulate NGF production and help to alleviate symptoms of peripheral neurological dysfunction. Dr. Will Boggs reported on his research in Neurology magazine that showed NGF to significantly improve the pain symptoms of patients with sensory neuropathy. No known side effects have been shown from taking Lion’s Mane extract.

I hunted down an extract of the mushroom at my local vitamin store and started taking it immediately and noticed an effect on the sensitivity in my feet. I could suddenly feel the carpet texture and was sensitive to small temperature differences on concrete sidewalks and had improved dexterity in my toes.

Since I had no bad reaction to it, I offered some to my neighbor to see if it might help him. My offer was met with the typical response we get about our “web health” research. The response goes something like, “You can’t be serious, I have spent the last 5 years at the top the medical centers in the US working with the top doctors in this field. I am sure if some mushroom extract you bought at the local vitamin store would help, they would know and would have told me. You are SOOO gullible to believe all the stuff you read on the internet.”

I admit, we are “web gullible” but we also think that medicine in the US has become a prescription profit business and nutritional cures are not promoted because they aren’t profitable. After three years of “web” research and nutritional supplement experimentation on ourselves, we have come to believe that most diseases are symptoms of nutritional deficiencies and not incurable medical mysteries that can only be managed with prescription drugs.

We haven’t written about Lions Mane before because we had no way to gauge its usefulness since we don’t have neuropathy. But, just recently another neighbor told me about his struggle with peripheral neuropathy. When I described what I had learned, he was eager to try it so I gave him some of my Lions Mane mushroom extract to try. I was very surprised to hear the next day that he had already noticed an effect in his feet. The positive effects were repeated the next day and every day he took it, he said it was making a difference in the amount of feeling he had in his feet.

Could it be that a little mushroom can regenerate nerve tissue and be giving my neighbor feeling in his feet again? We think this highly nutritious food is needed to counter the effects of aging and toxins in the environment. If you don’t want to eat it as an extract in a pill, you can order kits to cultivate Lion’s Mane at home. The mushroom “fruits” as a culture in wood based mixtures or can be bought as a patch. Apparently, the mushroom tastes like lobster when it is cooked with onions and butter and some people prepare a tea by soaking the mushroom in hot water. Now, we have added this special white mushroom to our weekly diet.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April brings Merrie Monarch Hula Festival excitement

April is the month of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival on the island of Hawaii.  The festival is one of the jewels of the Big Island attracting talented hula dancers and hula enthusiasts from around the world.  Even without a ticket to one of the three hula competition evenings, Hilo is well worth the visit to attend the many other hula happenings during the week of April 24 to  30. And, other than the three competitions, all the events around Hilo town are  free with many showcasing the talents of the actual hula competitors as well as the hula Kumu, up and coming Keiki, and the experienced Kupuna.
The week starts on Easter day, April 24, with our favorite event, the free Music festival at the Civic Auditorium. The Ho'olaulea showcases hula performed by dancers, musicians, and Kumu from the island’s Hula Halaus.  The dancers are accompanied by fantastic musicians singing popular hapa hula songs as well as traditional Hawaiian meles. The Kumus usually attend as their students show off their talent and grace and many years we have been treated to solo dances by renowned Kumu.

The week is packed with daily events  at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Hawaii Naniloa Volcanoes Resort and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. Arts and crafts fairs showcase Hawaiian art around the town.

On Wednesday night is the free Ho’ike, an exhibition of hula and dance in the Edith Kanaka'ole Multipurpose Stadium. The event is a special gift to the residents of Hilo and visitors and well worth the long wait in line to get a view of the pageantry and feel the excitement of the Merrie Monarch festival.

The hula competitions are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, but if you don’t have a ticket you can watch it live on KITV or on the internet at KITV’s web site. Saturday is the colorful Merrie Monarch parade through downtown Hilo.

Here is a calendar with all the Merrie Monarch events which is being updated as new information becomes available.

We continue to monitor the radiation levels in Kona and have seen no increase in our readings. Our device registers in milliREMs the total alpha, beta and gamma radiation. It doesn’t provide information about what isotopes are in the readings, but the readings are staying at the same low levels.