Archive for December, 2010

One More Obama Story

December 29th, 2010
By



It's kind of cool to be able to tell my Mainland friends that the President's family has been spending their Christmas vacations in Kailua, where my wife and I have lived for 20 years. I was also glad to see the Star-Advertiser did a story on the huge tax break the property owner is getting because of the house's "historical" status. The intent of the measure is good, but should owners of beachfront homes that are worth millions be paying far less in property taxes than average middle class folks? Furthermore, did you know the property is in an affluent neighborhood that has their own private beach access? Yep, but I haven't seen one mention of that in the local news coverage.

Listen, I happen to be an Obama supporter. And I think the President deserves some privacy on his family vacations. But Kailuana Place is a public street that our taxes pay for the upkeep on -- yet they won't let their neighbors or others use the beach access on that street you and I foot the bill for. They get away with it because the locked gate is on a private easement. I wrote a letter to the editor a few months ago about an accident I witnessed, in which paramedics were delayed in reaching the victim because they had to use the public beach access -- then realized they couldn't push the gurney through a half-mile of sand to where the injured surfer was lying on the beach. Which was near the gated "private" access pictured here...

Kailuana Place gate

In any event, the gate discourages surfers and others from parking on Kailuana Place. It's also easy for police to keep the public out by blocking off the Kalaheo Avenue intersection. On the day the Obamas were leaving Kailua in 2008, my wife and I were walking to the only public beach access at that end. As we got closer, we saw a bunch of motorcycle cops waiting at the intersection for the President's entourage to depart, so we decided to hang around for a glimpse of the Obamas. A small crowd gathered on Kalaheo Avenue and while I was jockeying for position to get a better view, an old man rode up on a bike and stopped next to me.

"What's going on?" he inquired. I kept looking across the street for the President's limo, and explained to him that the Obamas were leaving. The old fellow didn't seem very impressed. "Think they'll let me pass through?" I just shrugged and said, sure. As he started pedaling away from me, I glanced down and saw that strapped to the back of his rusty old bicycle was a propane tank!

A motorcycle cop across from us saw it too and started yelling at the man and waving his arms frantically. "HEY, STOP! GET OFF THE BIKE RIGHT NOW!" The poor guy was startled and confused by all the police suddenly swarming towards him, and practically fell off his bike. He explained that he was just going to get his propane tank refilled at the Aikahi shopping center down the street. Boy, I really felt bad about putting him through that. But you have to admit, it's sort of funny too.

******

If you missed my fictional Obama Christmas story for my two young nieces, Sasha and Ana, that was inspired by the same visit two years ago, here's the link to that piece. It's a bit long for a blog post, but you've probably got a three-day weekend, right?

Happy New Years from all of us at Career Changers TV... and I'd like to thank the people who help me put the show out each month: Ron Darby (camera, editing), Robert "Aukai" Reynolds (co-producer, camera and editing), Marc Edward (camera, editing), Mahlon Moore (CCTV website), and our host Theresa Tilley. See you next year!

Full Circle: Lost in Venice

December 24th, 2010
By



The piece below originally appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on Dec. 25, 2008. I had entered an earlier version in the old Advertiser's annual Christmas story contest, but it wasn't one of the winners they published. Anyhow, with the merger of those two newspapers, I thought it would be nice to share this "Addicted to Life" column with readers who weren't S-B subscribers back then. Hope you enjoy it...

******

Like many people, my wife and I collect Christmas ornaments as souvenirs from places we've traveled to. My favorite is a delicate piece from Venice made of green, white and red glass shaped into candles. It's missing one candle though. That's why it holds special meaning for me.

In recovery, we're taught to live in the present because we can't undo the past. I try not to dwell on the wrong turns I made. But I can't minimize the wreckage alcohol and drugs caused in my life either. My flame could have been snuffed out by two drunk driving accidents I had when I was a reporter in New Jersey, fresh out of college. I was lucky. No one was injured by my reckless disregard for others. Instead of giving up drinking, however, I gave up driving and moved to New York.

All of that was a distant memory when Isabel and I took our first trip to Italy in the summer of 1999. This was a reward of sorts for living sober. To make the most of it, we studied guidebooks, listened to Italian language tapes in the car and carefully planned our itinerary months in advance. Nothing was left to chance -- or so we thought.

After nearly 24 hours of flying economy class and long layovers in Newark and London, we arrived in Venice. Our luggage did not. Wearing smelly clothes, we checked into our hotel on the Lido, a small island across the lagoon. International movie stars flock here for the annual Venice film festival. But when we opened the door to our room, my wife's face dropped. It looked dingy and rundown, nothing like the charming photographs on the website. The trip of a lifetime was off to a disappointing start.

Things began to look better the next morning. The hotel's breakfast room had a a glorious view of San Marco, where the Doge's Palace and the Basilica are located. We hopped on the vaporetto, an unglamorous water bus, and as we cruised down the Grand Canal, I became oblivious to the stifling heat and the B.O. of tourists crowded around us. I only saw the fading grandeur of this dream of a city.

Venice on foot is a different matter. The guidebooks are useful as long as you stay close to the major tourist sites. Venture into the heart of the city, and you soon discover that streets often go by two names, smaller canals and bridges don't correspond with maps, and many passageways are dead ends. We got completely lost, which can be fun if you're in the right frame of mind. But we were like those couples on "The Amazing Race" TV show, who blame each other for every mishap. When we returned to the hotel and saw our luggage had been delivered, I thought we had turned the corner.

Wrong again. The next day was even hotter. Shorts and bare shoulders are forbidden in Italy's centuries-old churches, so we had to dress appropriately and sweat it out in line with hundreds of others who were waiting to get into St. Mark's Basilica. You've probably seen pictures of it: the Byzantine domes in the background while lovers embrace amid flocks of pigeons. Since we were quarreling, the grubby birds were merely a nuisance to us. We came to see the church treasures -- not for romance.

A group of German tourists were ahead of us. They seemed to know where they were going, so I followed them. Awed by the marble geometric designs under our feet and the ornate ceilings above, I missed the entrance sign for the museum where the church relics are displayed. Before we knew it, Isabel and I were back outside the Basilica. Despite my pleas of ignorance, a guard told us we had to stand in line again if we wanted to reenter.

Screw it, I said. We decided to move on to a less famous church. According to our map, Santi Giovanni was a short walk from there. But I made a wrong turn somewhere. What should have been a 10-minute stroll became another frustrating excursion that stretched into an hour of wandering around in a steamy maze.

Finally, we found Santi Giovanni. It is huge. Inside, the soaring vaulted arches resembled the bow of a gigantic wooden ship turned upside down. The stained glass windows and altars were works of art. Yet it felt strangely empty to me. We walked over to another section that was like a small chapel. As we were leaving, a priest walked past us with a beatific smile on his face.

Back in the main area we saw the German tourists again, standing in the center of the church. The men had cameras around their necks and their heads were bowed. They stood in a circle, holding hands, and began to sing a hymn in perfect harmony. Their voices filled the church. It was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.

Tears streamed down my face. Perhaps it was their devotion, or the acoustics ... or maybe it was the collective effects of being weary and flustered, but the church that seemed cold and dead to me was brought to life by their singing. I looked at Isabel and she was crying too. Neither of us is religious, but I felt blessed to be there with her. Had we not gotten lost and taken so many wrong turns, we would not have been here to witness this moment. I held my wife's hand and listened in rapt wonder.

When the men finished, they simply smiled at each other -- the same smile I saw on the priest's face as he walked past us. Then the Germans quietly left and we never saw them again.

That was in 1999. Two years later, after the devastation of 9/11, we went through the ritual of decorating our Christmas tree. It was a somber time. Isabel's business, which depended on tourists visiting Hawaii, was struggling. I worried about the future, and stopped writing. What was the point? Nothing made sense.

A couple of days later, the tree toppled over. It was a mess. The strands of lights were tangled and twisted. Ornaments were strewn about. A glass candle from the Venice piece had broken off. Isabel was at work, so I asked a neighbor to help me stand the tree back up. I restrung the lights and was able to glue together some of the broken ornaments, but the glass candle wouldn't hold. I couldn't fix that one.

While I was washing my hands and thinking to myself that the tree didn't look quite as nice as it did before, I heard a commercial on TV. It said it was all right to grieve for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, but the best way to respond to terrorism is to live.

I broke down and cried. There I was, fretting and cursing earlier because our tree fell over and some ornaments broke. It was nothing compared to what happened three months before. I thought about the church in Venice, and how lost I felt at different times in my life. I can't say if it was chance or fate that I survived the car wrecks and alcoholism, to wind up here with Isabel in Hawaii. I can only wonder, and be grateful for what I have.

So each year when I unwrap that ornament, I remember how fragile life is. I think about the missing candle, and it puts everything in perspective.

*******

Merry Christmas from all of us at Career Changers TV on OC16. Hope you'll tune in and watch us in 2011. Mahalo!

Posted in Career Changers TV, Humor, Inspiration | Comments Off

An Obama Christmas Story

December 22nd, 2010
By



As I mentioned in my last post, I'm transitioning from screenwriting to books because the odds of getting published aren't as daunting as selling a movie script. For my own amusement, over the years I've also written little hand-made books for my nieces. Sasha and Ana were about the same ages as President Obama's daughters, Malia Ann and Sasha, when I began the Uncle Monkey series of Christmas stories. It was also a form of therapy to deal with disappointment and frustration that my writing career wasn't going as planned.

In the books, Uncle Monkey is a grumpy, cynical chimpanzee writer of animal-centered tales that mirror current events in the human world. When President Obama and his family came to stay in Kailua after the historic 2008 elections, the prolific primate was inspired to write "Empty Boxes," which seems even more apropos this holiday season. Here is a shortened version, minus the art work...

PROLOGUE

"Can you tell us a Christmas story?" little Ana asked.

The chimp scratched his chin and nodded. "Hmm," he hmmm'd. "Yes, I can, as President Obama would say. Actually, he would say, 'Well, um, yes'... except I must warn you, it's a sad tale that will leave you weeping with joy or laughing in sorrow. It's about a character named Sandy Claws."

"You mean Santa Claus, don't you?" interrupted Sasha.

"No, Sandy Claws was a crab who lived in the ocean. But he liked to hang out on the beach too, where he would scavenge for odds and eggs --"

"You mean odds and ENDS," Ana said.

"No, eggs -- fish eggs and bird eggs, which he liked to eat for breakfast. Now stop trying to tell me what I mean and listen, or I will not continue!" Uncle Monkey snapped. In truth, he was cranky because he had a beginning for his fable about human greed, but he was still searching for a satisfying ending. He often told himself, It will all work out in the end. Yet all the troubles in the world never seemed to end! So how could things ever work out? This thought made him sad and depressed.

"Well," he said, sounding a bit like the President. "I did, um, say it was a sad story... and... look, these are troubled times with enormous challenges facing crabs and sea life due to global warming --"

"AHEM, " Ana interjected. "We want to hear a Christmas story, not a political speech!"

"Oh, okay," sighed the grizzled old chimp. "Here is The Fishy Tails of Sandy Claws, The Crabby Crab of Christmas Beach, which was rejected by all the fish book publishers."

"Did you try to sell it as a movie or TV show?" asked Sasha.

Uncle Monkey nodded yes. "My agent thought it would be perfect for Animal Planet Shell-o-vision, but they felt it was too depressing for kids. They thought Sandy Claws acted greedy and shelfish."

"You mean selfish?" said Ana.

"No -- shellfish! Ever since Finding Nemo became a big hit, they only want fish stories. Not crab fables or shrimp tails. They're prejudiced against shellfish. But I will tell you the story and you can judge for yourself if Sandy Claws was selfish."

"I thought you said he was a shellfish," Sasha noted.

"Yes, he is a shellfish. But I meant selfish this time... oh, never mind. Just read the darn story, okay?" he grumbled.

EMPTY BOXES by Uncle Monkey

Once upon a beach in Hawaii, there lived a cranky old crab who constantly complained about the litter and mess people left behind or threw in the ocean. It made him so mad that fish and "honu" (Hawaiian sea turtles) would ask if he had sand in his underpants, which might be irritating him. But since none of them wore underwear, this only made the crab even crabbier.

Christmas was the worst time of all for him. Sea birds and monk seals would mock the crab for the way he walked sideways. When he angrily raised his claws and snapped them at the birds, they laughed at him. "Ha! You couldn't snip your way out of a wet paper bag with those weak little claws of yours," taunted the birds.

Turning red with embarrassment, the crab retreated to his hole in the sand. Sandy Claws didn't have many friends. Like many crabs, he was shy and at parties would not come out of his shell. And his habit of eating dead fish he found on the beach was a turn-off for live fish he wished to befriend.

The reason he disliked Christmas so much was that more humans would flock to his beach for the holidays, and many would toss their flower leis into the water or throw wrapping paper from their gifts on the sand. Sandy Claws had to pick up all the bows and ribbons these careless people threw out. But he was jealous too because no one ever gave him any gifts. All he ever got was the empty boxes people left behind.

Then one Christmas Eve, something remarkable happened. He noticed there were more humans than usual with cameras, all stopping and staring at a particular house near his hole in the sand. There were men in long pants, wearing dark sunglasses, talking into radios while standing around the house. Obviously a Very Important Person was visiting. But who could it be?

"Pssst... wanna know who it is? Do ya?" whispered a little birdie. "It's the Obama!"

"What's an Obama?" asked the crab.

"I dunno, but everyone is wearing shirts or carrying signs that say something about Obama," the birdie replied.

"Well, whoever or whatever this Obama is, I hope he does something to clean up the ocean and beaches," the cynical crab said.

As more people came and left, Sandy Claws saw that some were leaving gift-wrapped packages next to a palm tree by the Obama house. What could be in those boxes, and who were they for? "Maybe they're for me!" thought the crab. Oh, he knew they were not meant for him, but he could not resist the temptation to pretend that these presents had his name on them.

And when he sneaked closer to the packages, what did his beady stalk eyes see, but the name Santa Claus on some labels. "Close enough," said Sandy Claws as he began to drag the boxes back to his hole. Using his claws and smaller pincers, he carefully removed the ribbons and unwrapped each package. Then he took out the gifts and replaced them with wilted, soggy flower leis he found on the beach or other plastic junk he plucked out of the ocean. Some of the boxes he re-wrapped contained nothing at all except a little sand. After he put the bows and ribbons back on, he placed the packages next to the palm tree where they were originally left.

Sandy Claws looked at all the gifts he had taken: candy, cookies, Hawaiian goodies and also things for little girls such as dolls and toys. So it was clear this Obama had children. And Sandy Claws disliked children because they were always chasing after crabs like him or poking sticks into their holes in the sand.

"Ha! I'm glad Obama and his daughters will be getting trash and empty boxes for Christmas," the crab muttered to himself. "Besides, why are people giving them more useless stuff when they obviously have so much already?" Which made Sandy stop to think about the gifts piled up around his humble hole. To fit in all the pilfered presents, he had to dig out more space. It was exhausting work to make room for things he didn't really need.

Despite his constant grumbling, the cranky crab realized he didn't have it so bad after all. He had eight good legs, plenty of garbage to eat, plus a beautiful beach he called home. "I should share my bounty with the honu, fish and dolphins. They'll see that I may be a shellfish, but I am certainly not selfish!"

That evening, the men in long pants with the dark sunglasses (which they wore at night to make themselves look more mysterious) picked up the "re-gifted" packages and brought them into the big Obama house. Meanwhile, Sandy Claws put all the pilfered presents into a large mesh bag he had swiped from a kayak, and dragged it into the sea to deliver his gifts to less fortunate sea life.

"Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas to all my ocean friends," he called out. Soon he was surrounded by curious dolphins, fish and honu. Even a couple of sharks cruised by to investigate what was happening. He opened the mesh bag and began to give presents to the smallest and youngest creatures. Unfortunately, all the candy and cookies had dissolved into a messy mixture.

"Nice," snickered a sarcastic starfish. "Some gift!"

Undeterred, Sandy Claws gave a silver necklace with a silver flower charm on it it to a baby parrotfish.... who ate it by mistake. "That's just great," the angry parent parrotfish squawked. "Why don't you just hand out sharp hooks to all the baby fish, huh?!"

"Sorry about that," the crab said. "How about a doll then for your other baby fish?" However, as he pulled the cheaply-made doll from the mesh bag, his claw severed the plastic head. The monk seals and dolphins began to play an underwater version of soccer with the doll head. Sandy looked at the label on the doll's body: MADE IN CHINA. "Tsk-tsk," sighed an old honu.  "That doll was probably made by underage kids who are forced to work for slave wages!"

Sandy Claws was very sad. He tried to do a good thing by sharing his gifts. But all he got in return was scorn and scoldings. This was his worst Christmas ever. As he turned sideways to crabwalk away, he heard a small soft voice call to him from the ocean floor... "Hey, Sandy," the tiny starfish said.

"Yes?" he replied hopefully.

"YOU'RE NOT GONNA LEAVE ALL THIS CRAP HERE, ARE YOU?" yelled the angry starfish. The gifts that looked so nice and new when he first unwrapped them were just more useless junk and garbage -- because, as the dolphins would say, they had no useful porpoise for these sea creatures.

*******

On Christmas morning, Sandy Claws woke up and decided he would return to being crabby since being generous did not work out very well for him. But as he walked home, over the sound of gentle waves breaking on the shoreline, he heard two young girls giggling with delight. It was coming from the big Obama house. "Oh, no! Those girls will be so disappointed when they open their presents and see they got garbage, or worse -- nothing at all!" he blurted out to the little birdie pecking around in the sand next to his hole.

"Whatcha gonna do, Sandy? It's too late to fix things now that you ruined their gifts... unless -- nah, it's too crazy," the birdie said, his voice trailing off.

"What? Tell me!" the crab implored.

"You could make up for it by offering yourself as a gift to the Obama," chirped the bird.

"Huh? You mean..." said Sandy, slowly getting the bird's drift.

"Yeah. Crab salad. Self-sacrifice is what Christmas is all about, right?" the birdie noted.

"Maybe they don't like crab meat though. In which case, it would be a wasted sacrifice," said Sandy. Depressed and dejected, the forlorn crab looked up and saw the entire Obama family was gathered outside in front of the house with their presents. He quickly scooted over the sand and rocks to get a closer look at the famous family. There was the President, his wife and two young daughters, all beaming with anticipation.

The father handed wrapped presents to his wife and girls. "These gifts are from the good people of Hawaii. I wonder what they gave us! Let's open them, and, um... let's see, shall we?" While he and Michelle carefully opened their packages, Malia and Sasha gleefully ripped open their gift boxes.

"Hey! There's nothing in my package," whined the older daughter.

"Mine is empty too," frowned the younger sister.

The wife held up a wilted flower lei that was still dripping sea water. "It smells like wet dog," she sniffed. The father held up his empty box. A few grains of sand and pieces of plastic junk fell out. He smiled though and took the wilted lei from his wife. Then he put it around his neck.

"Dad, are you crazy?" asked the younger daughter.

"I think the people who gave us these empty boxes are the ones who are crazy," said the older sister. "Not just crazy, but mean too. Why would anyone wrap up boxes of nothing!"

Their father nodded thoughtfully, paused for a second as he looked out at the beautiful blue ocean and white sandy beach. "Well, girls... um... maybe someone less fortunate than us needed what was in those boxes, or wanted those things because they lack, um, something. So they took the things inside the boxes... and, um... they forgot that they could not take what the gift-givers intended to share with you -- with our family. And that is the gift of love. What I see in this empty box is Hope and Love."

Sandy Claws' eyes welled up with tears. But as he tried to wipe them with his big claw, he nearly cut his eye stalk off. He sniffled and turned to the little birdie. "The Obama understands the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes the best gift is... nothing!"

Then they heard loud laughter -- it was the father and mother, who were consoling the crying girls. "Nah! Just kidding. Your mother and I got you real presents that are inside. You think we'd give you nothing for Christmas?" the father chuckled.  The sisters wiped their tears off and smiled. Their father sniffed the soggy lei and made a face. "I bet some crabby old McCain-Palin supporters left us those packages. At least we can be thankful it wasn't a bomb."

So Sandy Claws was right after all. Sometimes an empty box is the best gift.

THE END

*********

Ana and Sasha looked at each other. "That's a terrible Christmas story, Uncle Monkey!" said Sasha. Ana agreed: "Nobody would give a bomb for a Christmas present!"

"Ah, but they could. That's the point of my story. Things can always be worse than they are," the chimp replied. "So, a box full of nothing can be better than a box that has useless stuff in it... or worse, BAD things in it."

May all your empty boxes be filled with good memories and room for better things to come. Mele Kalikimaka from all of us at Career Changers TV!

Posted in Humor, Uncategorized | Comments Off

New and Old Market Niches

December 20th, 2010
By



Maybe it's the rain, but instead of feeling cheerful about Christmas this year, I'm in a melancholy mood. Shopping for gifts seems to bring out the best and worst in people. On one hand, my inner Charlie Brown is dismayed by the crass commercialization of a religious holiday. Yet I remember being a wide-eyed kid myself on Christmas morning, greedily ripping open gift-wrapped packages while still dressed in my pajamas. But it gets harder each year to buy presents for my parents and grown-up siblings, since we're not lacking for material things. It almost feels wasteful to indulge in obligatory exchanges of stuff none of us really need. I know, I know -- it's the thought that counts... or I should give to the needy and less fortunate. Which ones though? They're so many these days that I get depressed just thinking about it.

And then there's the Time thing. Each year goes by faster as we get older. It's not an illusion. When you're five, a year represents 20 percent of your entire life. At 50, it's half a percent -- a mere fraction. My wife and I are still trying to figure out how to get out out of World 2 in the Super Mario Wii game I got for us last Christmas. Although we chose not to have children, we remain kids at heart... then the annual family gatherings remind us of the reality of aging. It's like those lines in the Bonnie Raitt song, "Nick of Time":

I see my folks, they're getting old, I watch their bodies change...
I know they see the same in me, And it makes us both feel strange...
No matter how you tell yourself, It's what we all go through...
Those eyes are pretty hard to take when they're staring' back at you.
Scared you'll run out of time.

I'm 54 now, and my career dreams of being a produced  movie writer are starting to fade away. I've been studying the book market because I think age matters less in print publishing than in Hollywood, which fears the word "old" in any way, shape or form. I've also been planning to do Career Changer TV segments on future business opportunities related to our growing senior citizen population in Hawaii. Those two seemingly disjointed topics actually are tied together, and came into clearer focus while I was browsing through the book shelves at Borders this weekend.

For writers, it's the best of times and the worst of times. Because of the internet and consumers' insatiable appetite for entertainment/information, there never has been stronger demand for word-driven content. Unfortunately, so much of it is now given away "free" through the internet, it's hard out there for a scribe to make a living. The bright spots I saw in the bookstore -- which also sells music CDs and movie DVDs -- is that there are at least two markets that still want published print products: the very young and the over-50 crowd.

There's no shortage of books for tots, kids and YA (young adult) readers. Older folks and senior citizens have more time to read and tend to prefer print, including newspapers and magazines. Coincidentally, last week we interviewed Percy Ihara, publisher of the reborn Generations Magazine, which is geared to the senior market in Hawaii. He specializes in reverse mortgages and recognized that much of our elderly population is equity-rich but cash-poor. Our seniors are living longer too, so they will need additional health care and assisted living services. But many are still young in spirit and have the freedom to travel or take up new hobbies. Just as entrepreneurs created new businesses to cater to working parents, busy moms and their progeny, enterprising individuals are filling senior market needs by offering things like adult day care.

Looking for the next big market niche? How about this statistic: The over-65 age sector will double by the year 2050 in the U.S., going from 13 percent of the total population to 20 percent. One in every five Americans will be 65 or older. Percy says that "50 today is the new 40" and 60 will be the new 50... I hope so! I also had to smile when I saw his November cover story about "The Big Chill" still going strong at Rumours. That used to be one of my favorite night club hang-outs when I moved to Hawaii in 1985. And you know something? The music they played back then still rocks. Some things never get old.

Here's a link to the Generation Magazine website. (Note: the site has copies of the October and November issues, which you can view to find contact info, etc.) We'll have that story on CCTV probably in February. To find out what's on this week and when you can watch or DVR our show, please visit www.CareerChangers.tv.

Super Cat and Honu Guide News

December 17th, 2010
By



Mark Bell shows the Super Cat, which is now available for rental at beach resorts in Hawaii.

Mark Bell shows the Super Cat, which is now available for rental at beach resorts in Hawaii.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Career Changers TV show debut on OC16. On average, we produce four to five new segments for each monthly show, so we've covered about 60 different stories and have plenty more in the works for 2011. We also like to keep in touch with our interview subjects and do follow-ups to see how their new ventures are going.

For instance, we did a two-parter on local inventor Mark Bell. He had created a toilet paper roll dispenser MP3 music player, which got picked up by a manufacturer. Still no date on when the finished product rolls out (sorry, could not resist!).

However, the battery-powered personal mini-catamaran he began marketing in Hawaii three months ago is starting to make a splash on Maui and Oahu (end of bad puns). The latest place to offer Super Cats rentals as an ocean activity is the Kahala Hotel & Resort.

Last month I ran into Mark at the Blaisdell new products show where he was marketing another novel creation: a battery-powered cooler that you can actually drive. I kid you not. With so many locals lugging heavy ice chests from parking lots to picnic and party sites, there could be a real market for them. Here's a link to a KITV news clip that shows the mobile cooler. (I can foresee future "odd news" items about some guy being arrested for drunk driving on one of these things.)

Mark also passed along some news about a new fitness business started by the Kahala Hotel food and beverage manager, Nicole Madosik. Called "Mobile My Workout," it's an audio exercise program that you download to your iPod or music player.  Most of the audio workouts cost $4.99 each. Click here to learn more about the trainers and types of exercise programs they offer.

*******

In our current show, we did a segment about the Honu Guide, which is a coupon book that is geared to sustainable island living. We suggested the 2011 edition would make a great Christmas gift idea. In fact, my wife and I were going to give them to friends and co-workers as eco-friendly presents... but it turns out the new one won't be available until mid-January because they are merging with Kanu Hawaii according to Tyler Mongan, publisher of the Honu Guide. You can still place advance orders at www.HonuGuide.com, and they will give you the 2010 guide for free to use those special offers until the new one becomes available.

With Christmas just a week away, I'm sharing some holiday memories on my CCTV site blog and will post a couple of stories next week related to President Obama's past Kailua visits. You can read my "Ghosts of Christmas Past" tale about my run-in with Ethel Merman years ago in NYC by clicking here.

Today's relevant links:

Mark Bell's TP MP3 player video (follows video name tag invention).

Mark's other inventions (Super Cat in later half of video).

Honu Guide info and video link.

Daily viewing times and episode info about Career Changers TV, and CCTV YouTube Channel.

Mahalo to all our viewers and sponsors for making our first year on OC16 a local success story!