Archive for June, 2012

Pop-up Dinner Recommendation

June 29th, 2012


Shave ice

I tricked you. This is actually a blog post about immigration and human trafficking in Hawaii. But it does involve a Burmese pop-up kitchen at Pacific Gateway Center, so let me tell you about that before I explain how the cucumbers above are connected to the "Shaved Ice Salad" dessert beside it.

The next one is Saturday, June 30 at 6 pm, Lemongrass Cafe (83. N. King Street). It's a 5-course dinner for just $20 per person. Seating is limited to about 50 people, assigned tables, and reservations are a must. Call 851-7010. If the one tomorrow night is sold out, you might be able to make a reservation for a future pop-up dinner.

popup menuIt's really more of a tasting menu with small servings that emphasize fresh local produce and different flavors. Take the shaved ice salad pictured above. It had chopped up Jello, fruit, and other ingredients that made it colorful, fun and delicious. Yet the story behind this pop-up restaurant is even more intriguing. And this is where the immigrants angle comes in.

As you may know, I've been producing a series of videos about human trafficking in Hawaii  for the project in conjunction with the Pacific Gateway Center, which secured a grant from the federal Rescue & Restore program to stop modern day slavery. You can see our latest segment by clicking here. I should tell you though that if you're a parent, this mother's story will be gut-wrenching for you to listen to. More on that and the State politics involved next week.

Anyhow, PGC is all about helping immigrants and low income people in Hawaii. Their latest project is setting up former farm labor trafficking victims with 5-acre plots of land in Kunia to grow produce and start their own farming businesses. PGC loaned them the money, leased the land, and is giving them guidance on how to run a business. I happened to be there when the first harvest was brought in... the cucumbers above. If you knew what some of these immigrant farm workers went through, it would bring tears to your eyes to realize what that picture represents. (Click here to see the piece we did on one such trafficking survivor named Samian.)

After I took the photo, Dr. Myaing of PGC, mentioned there was an upcoming Burmese pop-up dinner and that Aye Aye would be using fresh produce supplied by the new Kunia farm venture. I thought it would make a great segment for a future Career Changers TV show, showing how the human trafficking projects are actually making a difference in the lives of not just the immigrant workers, but for residents too. So when I hear about how on the Mainland, some states are doing all they can to turn away immigrants, it makes me grateful that most of us in Hawaii embrace people from other countries and cultures. In return, they make real contributions to our economy -- and our lives.

While we filmed Aye Aye as she prepared her Burmese dishes, she told us about coming to Hawaii and working seven days a week for very little pay. Yet she wound up starting the packaged sushi franchise in Honolulu that supplies stores like Foodland at Ala Moana, and many other places... yep, most of the store sushi is actually made by Burmese workers hired by Aye Aye! However, she said she "comes alive" when cooking, which is her true passion. The pop-up dinners are a way for her to develop her cooking and restaurant management skills. Don't be surprised if she opens her own place some day.

I didn't mean for this to be a pre-Fourth of July blog post on the meaning of Independence Day or the American Dream. But in rereading this, that's kind of what it is, isn't it? We are a nation of immigrants, united by the desire to live free and to build our own dreams with hard work and imagination.

Please support the Pacific Gateway Center. Call 851-7010 and make a reservation for the next pop-up dinner.


Beginning July 2, Career Changers TV will have a new daily viewing schedule! Thanks to the increasing popularity of our show, OC16 has given us better time slots, which will be posted next week. Until then, you can still catch the current episode or watch segments from past shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

Does Zumba Cause Deafness?

June 19th, 2012

Noise makes me cranky, especially when I'm trying to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, we live in an increasingly noisy world, where consideration for others has become a thing of the past. Take Zumba, for example. At first, I thought instructors blasted music at ear-splitting levels because they believed that sound waves could somehow help break down fat molecules while sweaty participants danced around in close proximity to each other. Not my idea of a fun work-out, but whatever.

The problem is many of these Zumba sessions are conducted in places that are next to public areas. When my wife and I were vacationing on the Big Island and trying to enjoy the peace and tranquility of snorkeling at Kahaluu Beach awhile back, we began to hear loud thumping -- underwater. It was coming from a Zumba class on the hotel grounds next to the bay. Then this past weekend while playing tennis, for about two hours we were subjected to the same super-amplified noise assault, which was coming from a Zumba "fundraiser" (i.e., recruitment event) at the elementary school next to the Kailua public tennis courts. The din made it difficult for tennis players to concentrate on their game.

Rather than assume the Zumba organizers and participants are just plain rude and inconsiderate of people who live, work or play in the vicinity, I have come to the conclusion that they are hard of hearing and must play music at those mind-numbing levels in order to coordinate their movements. Ergo, Zumba causes deafness.

Lest you think I'm being facetious, recent studies show an alarming number of young and middle-aged people are turning up in doctors' offices with hearing loss problems. In part, it's because of wearing ear buds and playing their iPods at high volume. I suspect it's also a result of those amped-up car stereos or going to clubs that turn up the bass so loud it causes windows to rattle, while creating the uncomfortable sensation that you're about to lose control of your bowels.

Noise pollution is a serious problem. It increases stress levels and diminishes the quality of life. When you think about it, isn't that one reason people enjoy going to the beach or swimming in the ocean? We need to have places where we can escape noise and let our minds wander while we enjoy natural sounds. So, to all you Zumba enthusiasts, PLEASE be mindful of others who may not appreciate being subjected to your taste in music, played at levels that belong in a rock concert arena. Thank you.


In part, this rant was inspired by an interview we just did with professional hypnotherapist, Mindy Ash for an upcoming Career Changers TV show segment. As she walked us through a typical session with a client, I was struck by what she said: all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Mindy explained how she got into her field through her exposure to self-help motivational programs and Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques that teach the power of words and positive thinking. A key component to it working is the ability to clear your mind of distractions -- and noise. I believe that the rise in number of reported ADHD cases among kids and adults is largely related to people being subjected to too much artificial noise from TVs, music players, computers, and cell phones.

With all the competing sounds and distractions, is it any wonder students in the classroom and employees at work seem less focused on tasks they're asked to perform? And even when the noise is turned off, it's still there in your head, like an ear worm. Interestingly, I wasn't planning on doing a blog post today. But during Mindy's demo session for our TV shoot, she planted the suggestion "Do it now" in her client's subconscious... and ever since then, I've been thinking I need to, well, do it now. Here's the link to her website.

You can check out our latest show, which features segments on Paul Brown and Loco Boutique's General Manager with advice for retail businesses, by visiting www.CareerChangers.TV for daily viewing times on OC16. Videos from past and current episodes are also posted on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Thanks for watching!

Election Sign Madness

June 14th, 2012

Funny, but I was jogging back from the beach today and shaking my head because of the proliferation of campaign signs all over Kailua... which got me to thinking about that movie, ELECTION, starring Matthew Broderick and a young Reese Witherspoon as the the plucky -- but ruthless -- Tracy Flick, high school candidate for student government president. If you recall, the big scandal was who tore down the campaign signs the night before the big election. A week or two ago, signs were vandalized in Kailua, which prompted a candidate to go on TV news and complain about the cost of replacing those eyesores... er, I mean "campaign" signs. Mostly it was the juvenile marker mustache/eyeglasses on candidate photo variety of vandalism. But it reminded me how much state and national politics are still like high school when you get right down to it.

Seriously, do people actually decide who to vote for based on who has the most signs? Are they swayed by the design layouts, or which combination of red, white and blue the graphic artist decides to use? Is it who has the nicest font or best photoshopped picture? Some of those candidate photos are so doctored, they barely resemble the actual person -- that is, if you happen to see them in person around town. Whatever happened to candidates knocking on doors and talking to people?

And what exactly is the point of signs that don't say anything besides the person's name? Most don't have any slogan or message that ties into any substantive theme... oh, that's right, we're supposed to go to their website for that kind of stuff. Unless they have enough bucks to literally launch their own television channel that can play their campaign propaganda... um, I mean message... 24/7 or on demand. Never mind where the money for those ads and commercials came from, even if it's primarily Mainland sources that shouldn't be meddling in Hawaii's affairs. But local TV stations don't care where the bucks comes from, nor do sign companies or direct mail services that all profit from the extra business during political seasons.

Anyhow, getting back to the sign shenanigans in ELECTION and Kailua, I was thinking about that movie for another reason: I actually met the writers and director when I was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival screenwriting competition back in 1999. Some of you will recognize the name of Alexander Payne, who co-wrote the movie adaptation of the book with Jim Taylor. Payne also directed THE DESCENDANTS, which was adapted from the book by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Her stepfather, former State Sen. Fred Hemmings, used to park in front of my house while visiting his son who lived two doors down from us. I was not friendly with the son or Fred. Now his signs are popping up all over Kailua again as he tries to make a political comeback. He's another one that doesn't put any complicated slogan or message on his signs. Apparently, he believes his name is enough.

That's how it used to be in high school too, wasn't it? So maybe we shouldn't  be surprised when the people we elect, don't turn out to be what we expected or hoped for... because most of us don't bother to take the time to learn about what they really stand for, or what kind of person they truly are. At least that's the message I'm getting from all the signs I see.

BTW, I think ELECTION is one of the funniest, sharpest movies I've ever seen and highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue. However, it is NOT a family-friendly film. I forgot how dark and adult the humor was -- kind of shocking, actually, in that it dealt openly with consensual sex between a high school student (Tracy Flick, future politician) and a male teacher with a mid-life crisis, and also features a smart high school girl who happens to be a lesbian and is maybe the sanest character in the movie.  The movie came out in 1999, which may explain why it didn't do better at the box office. I don't think people were quite ready for it back then. Check it out if you appreciate dark grown-up satire. It sure beats watching another Adam Sandler movie. Ugh.


While I was ruminating about ELECTION, signs and politics, I flashed back to my college days and election shenanigans that occurred my senior year at Montclair State College in New Jersey. It involved future lawyers and politicians, who years later would be caught up in scandals that made the New York Times and national news -- and it didn't surprise me because those former associates of mine were trying to rig outcomes for personal gain before they even graduated. They were sort of like Tracy Flick too. On the plus side though, my journalism adviser at the college paper was a long-time political reporter for the NY Times who taught me a lot about news reporting and writing.

That was in the late 1970s after Watergate and ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN made journalism sexy... reporters were played by stars like Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman! So yeah, I was kind of inspired by the idea that journalists could change the world by digging for the truth. I even got to interview Bob Woodward (that's another story) and hang out with big time reporters who covered the City Hall beat in NYC thanks to my mentor. When I see what passes for "news" these days on CNN and Fox, I feel saddened by how the network heads now seem content to appeal to the lowest common denominator instead of pushing for harder investigative reporting, free from political bias or agendas.

Here's a link to the Washington Post on the 40th Anniversary of Watergate. And here's a good piece that I first saw linked on Ian Lind's blog. Hard to believe it was that long ago, huh?


You don't have to vote for me, but please watch my Career Changers TV show on OC16! For daily viewing times, visit our website. You can also watch video segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a nice weekend, and try to resist the temptation to draw mustaches on those ugly campaign signs that are a blight on our towns and streets.

Show Snippets

June 6th, 2012

PROGRAM ALERT: The new June episode of Career Changers TV begins hairing -- er, airing -- Thursday night at 8:30 pm on OC16. For other viewing times and on demand channel options, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

Artist posterPardon the bad hair pun, but when you do a profile of hair empire builder Paul Brown, it's hard to resist using hair, scissors or other cutting remarks in article headlines or copy. In the same episode, we have a segment about the Paul Brown Institute at Remington College, and a fun fashion show the students staged to display the hair and make-up skills they're learning. My cameraman, Stanford Chang, and I were surprised when Paul himself took a seat in the audience.

What was also surprising (for me and other guys probably) is how much schooling it takes to become a professional hair stylist or cosmetician. Besides being taught the hands-on skills, students at PBI must learn about sanitation, safe handling of chemicals used, and basic business practices. Then after they graduate, most will spend a few months working as assistants first before they become full-fledged stylists. Paul Brown Salons has implemented a "junior stylist" program for exceptional graduates, which gets them on the floor right away (while charging lower prices for their services).

the artist hairstyle

Oh, if you're wondering what's with the poster and pictures from THE ARTIST movie, Paul Brown said perhaps the biggest new trend in hairstyles this past year was the influence of that film, which garnered praise and awards for using the old timey silent movie approach to tell the story. Haven't seen it yet, but have noticed a lot of younger women with retro hair-dos from past eras.

Although that comment didn't make it into the final cut of the Paul Brown segment, he had plenty more to say about his personal story that was interesting -- and inspiring. I recommend you watch in on regular television if you can, since we have other good stuff in that episode, but you can see the low res YouTube version by going to the CCTV YouTube Channel.

the artist 3Speaking of which, you'll also see new videos posted about the recent WorkForce job fair and two pieces related to the local retail scene. In the former, we spoke to the job fair organizer about the economic outlook, and featured some businesses that are looking to hire.

As for the retail biz segments, we interviewed the General Manager of Loco Boutique, which has grown to include stores in Guam, Saipan and Okinawa. He happens to be the significant other of Career Changers TV host, Theresa Tilley -- so it was kind of funny when she stopped by during shooting, and began giving Guillaume Maman advice on what to say. Fortunately, they have a long-standing relationship, and he took the "coaching" good-naturedly with the grace and flair we associate with the French. He also shared some "Do's and Don'ts" for anyone in retail, which are worth thinking about if you're a business owner.

For job seekers, here's the link to the WorkForce segment. And here's Guillaume's piece (for Do's and Don'ts, click here). Mahalo for watching!