Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dropping Like Flies

Oops, what happened to yesterday? It was the seductive Kindle and a day of reading. How luxurious. Blog, what blog?

My friends, the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers, finally got to meet one of the Spotted Eagle Rays with which I have been swimming recently. About time!

I also enjoyed a fresh perspective on ocean swimming through the eyes of five young men from Los Angeles brought by Patti and Janet. If only they had all survived. Well, I guess they all lived, but the casualty rate today was unusually high. A number of swimmers suffered stings with one of these guys having to be hauled in by kayak because of difficulty breathing. They were good sports and joined us for breakfast afterward. They will definitely remember today and I'm sure the stories they tell will grow ever more life threatening with each new recounting.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Movie of the Year

WALL-E is the best movie I've seen in a long time. Pixar has done it again, and this one is probably their best! Not only will I purchase the DVD when it comes out, but I actually plan on returning to the theater for another viewing.

Go see it!


I was reminded today of why I photograph buildings for a living and not people. Take one hysterically crying boy, two adults who have more important things to do than look at the camera, and a cloudy gray day. Add nine different opinions as to which photo looks the best and the result is a photographer who is beginning to hate his job.

I love my job and I plan on keeping it that way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Visas and Passports


Our visas for Russia arrived today as new pages in our passports. And with plenty of time to spare, we don't leave for another four days! I don't know what all the worrying was about...

I guess this means that the trip is actually a "Go" and I'll have to start researching Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Well, maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Big Brother

I'm sure you sophisticated types from the big city will laugh at me, but I'm finding the video cameras at all of the main Wailea intersections to be a bit disconcerting. I mean, am I supposed to smile? Do I need to wear a tie? Or at least comb my hair before going out in my car?

I spoke to one of the people sitting near a cluster of cameras as she was pushing buttons on a box in her lap. She said they were counting cars. When I asked her who hired her, she didn't know - it was just a temp job. She assumed the cameras were also a part of the counting of cars.

I know (from real-life movies like Mission Impossible) that cities have lots and lots of cameras which are all tied into central control centers where people are monitored. And they do check for things like proper attire. But here in quiet rural Maui, it all seems a bit out of place. After all, we only wear ties and jackets in the evening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Return of the Eagle Ray Trio

I was greatly disappointed on Sunday because I wanted to introduce my friends, the Spotted Eagle Ray Trio, to the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers. Even after much searching, the eagle rays were nowhere to be found.

Then this morning, they were back in their usual place hanging languidly in the current. I guess the commotion of all those splashing swimmers was too much for them, or maybe they like the way I smell. Either way, I swam quietly with them this morning and even took some video (click HERE or Below for the video).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Reading

I received a wickedly extravagant gift for my birthday,'s Kindle book reader. For the Kindle currently has over 130,000 books available for sale at $10 or less, and hundreds of titles of the world's greatest classic literature are available on the internet for free.

I just finished reading my first Kindle novel, The Kite Runner. For a movie or novel to qualify as being great it needs to meet one simple test. It has to be a good story, well told. And The Kite Runner qualifies. I also like to be surprised, and this book sometimes took me in unexpected directions. Nice.

And my impression of the Kindle? I was able to disappear into the story and the Kindle became invisible, the same as a book would have. There can be no higher praise.

If you are thinking of buying one, I do have one caveat: most books have not been digitized and are not available. However, with time more and more will become ready to read.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Begins

What could be more fun than an ocean swim? Sharing the adventure with my friends, the Maui Pink Cap Swimmers! We visited Bruce in his home and listened to fish grunting like apu'a'a (pigs). Click HERE (or Below) for the Video of today's swim.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chilling Expectations

From the setting of today's sun the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. Winter is on its way. Brrrrrrr. Time to get a good fire roaring and cuddle up with a good book. Or, maybe, turn the air conditioning down a notch.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What Demons Lurk Below?

As I arrived at the beach this morning, I noticed a large splash down the coast. Too big to be a dolphin - maybe a small whale? Not likely. Maybe a great white shark? Hmmmmm.

A short way into my nervous swim I stopped to chat with a passing kayaker. I mentioned the splash and he suggested eagle rays. Says they are a bit rambunctious during mating season and one probably leaped from the water while being chased. I guess that two rays jumping and landing together could have made that size splash.

Just a little farther along I came across these three spotted eagle rays hanging in the current right where I left them last week. They were way too docile and calm to have been jumping. Must have been something else. Something that, fortunately, I never saw.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Running Before the Rain

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Surf's Up

Even though the high surf advisory was dropped a couple of days ago, the surf hasn't. It was under exactly these conditions (high surf, low in-water visibility) thirteen years ago that I was attacked by a twelve foot tiger shark. So - another day without swimming.

Excellent conditions for surfing and boogie boarding, but I only got a few nice body-surfing rides. It didn't help when I was told about someone breaking their arm body-surfing the same spot yesterday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Am A Nerd

I've been a total computer geek today; evaluating stitching software for creating panoramas like the one above of Wailea Beach this morning. I don't have any clear-cut winners yet. Some of them do amazing things, but they all still have major weaknesses. I guess I will continue making my big panoramic photographs by hand.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mahalo Nui Loa

Today has been the most ordinary of days. No swims, no adventures, just errands and frustrations. So I was deeply appreciative of your kind birthday phone calls, emails and cards. Thank you all. I especially appreciate Doug getting me out of the house for dinner. And for the marvelous great gift! I will fill the rest of you in with the details in a few days. I am one lucky guy who gets to live the most amazing and blessed of lives.

The tree trimmers were here today. Unlike the other guys who use spikes on their shoes to climb palm trees, they mysteriously levitated to the tree tops. Well, that's what it seemed like to me since I never witnessed any of the actual ascents. I will pay closer attention tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wet and Wild!

We ventured out into the wild waters of La Perouse bay this morning for our Sunday swim. The wind chop mixed with a substantial south swell brought a couple of our pink cap swimmers ashore dripping blood. Me, I Loved It! Yahoo! What a Great swim! I never feel more alive than when cutting through insane blowing waves.

At lunch I was moved by a stereophonic serenade by George and his dual nose flutes. From a distance the music is gentle and haunting, from between the flutes the tones set the soul vibrating. Mahalo George.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dolphins Everywhere!

Several pods of Spinner Dolphins converged on me this morning and I got to spend well over an hour swimming with over one hundred of them. To see why they are called Spinner Dolphins click HERE (or Below) for today's Video.

Dolphins from the different pods did not seem to mix. As I watched, two groups would approach each other then veer off as they got close. Of course there were always the loners, and I never knew to which group they belonged. Click HERE to see all of the photos from today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fields of Gold

Weddings on the beach are a common sight in the evenings. Daytime weddings are usually reserved for really busy days, especially on dates with significance (ones that the husband might somehow remember). Who wouldn't be able to remember that they were married on Friday the 13th?

On my walk this morning it was the harpist I saw first, playing Fields of Gold (Sting song). The remainder of the wedding party came into view as I rounded a bend in the beach. I didn't see any black cats or ladders, though.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hanging Eagles

I encountered four Spotted Eagle Rays hanging in the current this morning. Two of them, who were even shyer than I am, quickly disappeared when I got my camera out. The other two could care less (obviously, they had remembered to shower and comb their hair before my arrival).

Fortunately, the current wasn't too strong today and I was able to keep up with them. I was a little nervous again because of limited visibility, so I was happy to have the company.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stoney Guards

Upscale suburbia - that's Maui. There are few buildings on this island over fifty years old, and even fewer structures of any architectural note. This blandness is reinforced by restrictions imposed by many communities (mine included - "You can paint it beige, but not too light or too dark a beige!"). Which is why I am drawn to photograph the Indonesian house just down the street. I seem to see something new each time I walk by. There are two of these stone guys, one on each side of the gate keeping guard. They kind of remind me of what I see the first thing in the morning in my mirror.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What Is It?

The Tahiti Express was running strong this morning. I was swimming in place for quite a while but finally managed to overcome the current.

The usual group of Ulua came up to say "Hi!" to me. They make me nervous because they are so big and get so close. I'm sure they're harmless and I would rather be surrounded by them than by barracudas.

I saw this Box Fish lying uncharacteristically still on the bottom. When I swam in close, it scooted away at top speed so I assume that it is well.

I also encountered this weird pulsating gelatinous blob. What could it be? Click HERE or Below for the Video.

Monday, June 9, 2008

To Russia (We Hope)

We had such a great time on The World (private cruise ship) last year, that we are planning a return voyage in a couple of weeks. We were a little late in making the necessary arrangements, so it was only last week we discovered the need for a Russian Visa. And, to make it more interesting, Russia is the only country in the world which requires that you be invited in writing to visit the country before you are even allowed to apply for a visa.

Our letters of invitation arrived this morning, and I quickly took the required visa photos so that Doug could send off the ream of paperwork (including our U.S. passports) to a Russian Embassy on the mainland. Now we wait...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Where, Oh Where?

As we swam this morning, swimmers kept disappearing. Where, oh where could they be? By the end of the swim our usual group had dwindled to only four!

Possibly, the fact that the water was murky and we couldn't see each other might have had something to do with it. Or that it was thirteen years ago this week that I was attacked by a 12 foot Tiger Shark at this same location - also in murky water.

For whatever reason, people swam to shore or turned around, and there were less and less of us. Nonetheless, I enjoyed getting out into the ocean and swimming a different route.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Showers of Flowers

It's that time of year again when Rainbow Shower trees come into bloom. As best I can tell, they are called shower trees because of the nearly constant rain of falling flower petals (which is why our landscapers hate them - constant cleaning up required). They are a hybrid of the Golden Shower tree (the national flower of Thailand) and of the Pink and White Shower trees. While the Golden Shower tree has poisonous seed pods, the Rainbow Shower tree has none because it is a sterile hybrid.

We have learned to not prune them back until the fall, that way they are packed with blossoms throughout the summer. The tree seen here is the White Rainbow Shower tree which proceeds its more colorful siblings in blooming.

Why write about them? Because they are SPECTACULAR! (and because I've been working all day and can't think of anything else to write)

Friday, June 6, 2008


Turtles gather at certain spots to be cleaned, and fish at others. Personally, I find the nipping mildly annoying, it almost tickles. I'm never quite sure whether they are trying to tell me to leave, or if they find me tasty.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Low Pressure System

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Feeding Ray

The wind was blowing early this morning (it usually waits until after my swim) so I ended up swallowing lots of sea water during my hour traversing the deep. This spotted eagle ray was intently feeding as I passed by. It was so busy feeding that it forgot to be camera shy. Fortunately for the ray, it was down too deep for me and I had to struggle to get close to it.

I also saw a very large barracuda, but it did not forget its aversion to cameras. They usually follow large schools of smaller fish, which I did not see today. The next time out I will look for the big school and, who knows, I may see some other large predator fish lurking.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dolphins and South Swell

Spinner dolphins came by for a brief visit this morning. Four of them were extremely active and continually swam circles around me. As I swam faster, two of them began crossing back and forth in front of me, one even brushed me with its tail. The main pod was in sleep mode and kept their distance.

A south swell is building, surfers were arriving as I left. A series of four large swells hit while I was on the edge. I kept low, hugging the rocks, and the waves broke over me. The water tried to pull me across the jagged lava rocks and out to sea, but I managed to hang on. I felt some panic while it was happening and as I watched each subsequent wave arrive, but escaped whole with only a few small scrapes. A bit scary, but really no big deal.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Never Say Die

Our DVD and book collection used to teeter in vertical stacks on an array of shelves. Whenever I selected a DVD from the bottom of the stack I risked serious injury. We searched Maui and no shelving solutions existed at any reasonable price. The online stores would not ship to Hawaii. What to do?

A friend (thank you Evelyn) suggested shipping to a family member on the mainland. All they have to do is print a Priority Mail label on their computer and, presto, two days later it is in Hawaii. Many, many thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Marisa, for their assistance. And, of course, Doug is the one who made it all possible. Mahalo. What a difference!

Centipede Encounter

Maui's most feared insect is the Centipede which gets to be a foot long. When they feel threatened (such as when you try to brush one off after it has fallen on you from the ceiling in your sleep) they wrap themselves around you and repeatedly bite. Mildly poisonous and very painful. They are "known to eat bats, catching them in midflight, as well as rodents and spiders."

I saw this guy out on the street this morning, so I took a couple of photos and a little video, but otherwise left it alone. Click HERE (or Below) for the short video. Maybe it will tell its family that I didn't try to kill it, word will get around, and I will be spared a painful bite in the future.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Aluminum Man

Two really cool Mauians, Nancy and Jami, put on a fun race series called the Aluminum Man Biathlon. Nothing serious, just show up and swim and run, or just swim, or just run. Lots of work for them, lots of fun for us. The photo is of Jami patrolling the swim course. Thank you Nancy and Jami.

Since today's Aluminum Man began where our Sunday swims take place, I decided to join in. And am I ever sore! First the race then the usual Sunday course. Oh my!

I searched and searched, but it wasn't until the end of the swim that I finally located the manta ray I swam with the other day. I'm happy that most of my friends got to swim with her too.

The jumping-off rock saw lots of action from the younger generation; including seldom seen flip dives. Our newest swimmer, Cara, said "I would only jump so that I could say that I had done it." My sentiments exactly. Been there, done that.

Without a doubt, I had a wonderful morning. Click HERE (or Below) for today's video.