Archive for October, 2012

Unique Hawaii Collectible on eBay!

October 27th, 2012

Reminder: the Hawaii OBAMA Car that Kathy Custer is auctioning off to help two deserving young students pay their college tuition, will begin accepting bids on eBay today, Oct. 28 and end on Nov. 6. For details, please refer to my last post (click here).

Obama car

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"OBAMA Hawaii Car" Up For Bids

October 26th, 2012

Obama car

Kathy Custer, owner of Keiki Sitters, is putting her OBAMA Car on eBay this Sunday, Oct. 28, for a very good cause: she's trying to help raise tuition money for two young people, whose family cannot afford to pay for their education right now (more details below). Regardless of your political affiliations, you have to admire Kathy for giving up a prized possession to benefit others. Isn't that the true spirit of what it means to be an American? As Bruce Springsteen says in a new song, "We take care of our own."

Here's the backstory behind the car: about five years ago, Honolulu attorney/architect William Wiegenwald, aka "Wild Bill," heard Obama's first presidential campaign speech and was so certain Obama would win that he immediately purchased the rights to the OBAMA license plates and placed them on his Chevy Silverado. A year after Obama took office, Bill got a job in Qatar and gifted his car to Kathy, a close friend.

I was introduced to Kathy at a Hawaii Inventors Club meeting, where I learned she was not only the founder of a hugely successful nanny service (they also offer pet-sitting and take care of elderly folks) but was in the process of launching the first Indoor Skydiving Center in Hawaii. It's essentially a vertical wind tunnel where you put on a special flying suit that allows you to simulate the skydiving experience. She expects to start construction in about a year. Then I ran into Kathy again while we were filming our segments about hypnotherapist Mindy Ash. Turns out Kathy credits Mindy's sessions for helping her nail the big presentation that got Kathy millions in financial backing from investors for the indoor skydiving venture. You can see that video by clicking here.

Kathy uses a motorcycle as her primary mode of transportation, but has been proudly displaying her OBAMA Car in front of her house and enjoys the mostly positive reactions she gets when she does take it out for a spin. She says many people snap pictures of the car, which have the only Hawaii OBAMA license plates in existence. In Hawaii, it is illegal to sell a license plate, so you must purchase the vehicle and then you can transfer the plates to another vehicle. Wild Bill's 1994 Chevy Silverado has close to 160,000 miles on it, seats eight with working AC, radio, four wheel drive and has had only one other owner it its lifetime -- Kathy.

According to Kathy, someone in Illinois also has OBAMA plates and is trying to sell them for $1.1 million (no car included) but she's not doing it for personal gain. The proceeds will go toward putting a brother and sister through college. Katie Garren is 20, and currently attends a community college while working on her associates degree requirements. She hopes to attend a university so she can earn a degree in business. Logan Garren is 17 and will graduate high school in 2013. He aspires to be an electrical engineer, and wants to work for the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab program.

Katie, Logan

As a special mahalo to anyone who bids at least $50 more than the prior bid, Kathy will mail them a handwritten thank you on an OBAMA Car postcard mailed from Hawaii if they send her their address via eBay. The auction goes live this Sunday and will close on Election Day, Nov. 6. Opening bid is just 99 cents. I wonder if bidders will wait to see who wins?


Speaking of elections, when I recently wrote about my Vegas trip, I noted that casino bookmakers and Wall Street brokers had something in common: they bet more with their heads than their hearts or guts, and place their money on who they think will perform better. As it happens, gamblers have done a far better job of picking who will be president than the pollsters. Here's an interesting article about that. If the gambling trends are correct again as they were in 2008, Kathy will be very happy -- the smart money says Obama is going to be re-elected.

You can still catch the special Halloween edition of Career Changers TV on OC16 until next Saturday. For daily viewing times, and links to the CCTV YouTube Channel, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. Have a great weekend!

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Local Chocolate Maker Wins World Medal

October 19th, 2012

Madre Choc 2Earlier this year, we featured two young entrepreneurs who started Madre Chocolate to help cacao farmers in other countries, while exporting Hawaii-made chocolate worldwide from their home base in Kailua. Here's the link to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Career Changers TV segment on Dave Elliott and Nat Bletter, which tells how they became business partners and used Kickstarter to launch their venture.

Last week they announced Madre Chocolate won the World Silver Medal for their Triple Cacao bar in the International Chocolate Awards in England. Madre was one of only four U.S. companies to win world final medals, and the youngest company to win at only 2-years old. This same bar had recently won the U.S. Gold medal and the Northwest Chocolate Festival Inclusions Silver medal.

Here's  more from their press release:

The Triple Cacao bar is the only bar in the world that incorporates the tangy, lychee-tasting fruit of the cacao pod as well as nutty, crunchy nibs and smooth, rich dark chocolate to give you a taste of 3 flavors and textures all from cacao. This bar and Madre's full line up of Hawaiian and Latin American chocolates are showing the world that we can make world-class chocolate right here in Hawai‘i creating a great market for the new but rapidly growing cacao crop in the Islands.

When asked for comment, Madre Chocolate's cofounders David Elliott and Nat Bletter were elated and proud of the worldwide recognition of their hard work and social mission to support cacao growing communities throughout the tropics, but only rested briefly to relish the award from the lengthy work of selecting, sorting, roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, tempering, and wrapping their chocolate from cacao bean to bar. "We've got to get back to making more of these delicious bars to meet the imminent surge in demand locally and from halfway across the globe," said Nat, Madre's flavormeister, and then returned to his task of making sure each cacao nib for the Triple Cacao bar was exactly 1.5 mm wide with a digital caliper and a quadriflux confocal laser microscope. David, Madre's expert chocolate maker, could not give further comment as he was already off in a cloud of cocoa powder to conche another batch of chocolate for this award-winning bar.

Madre Chocolate bars, bean-to-bar chocolate making kits, and Cinnamon Daddy Mactella are available in their online store and stores throughout Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and across Europe in Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Sweden.


Halloween is creeping up! Our special Trick or Treats episode of Career Changers TV can be seen daily on OC16. For times and channel info, visit our website. You can also see segments from past and present Halloween shows by clicking here... if you dare!

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Vegas Gambling Lessons

October 15th, 2012

Program Reminder: The Halloween edition of Career Changers TV is currently airing on OC16 and will not be preempted this weekend, so you can catch it on Saturday night at 8:30 pm or earlier in the week at different times (click here for schedule). Keep your eyes -- and ears -- open for special effects we added!


On one of our first trips to Vegas many years ago, my wife and I learned some quick lessons the hard way. If you're over 50, you may remember the Bob Stupak's Vegas World direct mail offers of an almost free vacation at his casino resort. The guy was outrageous and a great promoter. He's the one who started the Stratosphere tower project, which ended in financial disaster for himself, but is now a Las Vegas landmark.

As a former direct marketing exec, I admired his mail packages that made it very difficult to resist. So we went to Vegas World, and right away I hit a slot jackpot for over $600. A cocktail waitress congratulated me, then warned that sometimes the worst thing is when you have beginner's luck. You can get a false sense of confidence. She was right too, because I immediately began to play back all of my winnings into other slots and made some reckless bets.

Meanwhile, Isabel was intent on hitting her own jackpot and had scoped out a slot she wanted to play. Except some other lady got to it first. So Isabel sat at a nearby slot, and began dropping in one silver dollar at a time, waiting for the lady to leave. Then Isabel looked up and saw 7-7-7 on her machine! But nothing happened. Why? Because that slot only paid the top jackpot if you played the maximum of three coins per spin.

After that, we made a rule: always read the small print and play the max bet if you're going to take a chance on the progressive jackpots. Otherwise, find slots that if you only play one coin, you won't lose out on a major jackpot. In fact, I've been finding that I have been hitting more small jackpots in the $100 to $500 range when I play one dollar at a time instead of the max bets. My theory is the new slots are programmed to give more frequent payouts that are smaller, yet large enough to entice a player to put it all back in while trying to hit the big jackpots. Whereas we used to hunker down and play for long periods on machines that seemed to be "hot," we now use a hit and run approach. Take profits, however small, and move on.

The other thing we learned was not to get emotionally attached to specific machines. Many times I would sit down at one slot, then on a whim try the machine next to it -- and boom, you hit a jackpot when you least expect it. I've also walked away from machines, then watched as another player takes a couple spins and hits a jackpot that could have been mine. Rather than feel like I "lost" out, I tell myself that I picked the right machine... just go out and find another. Don't dwell on the past, and don't get negative (easier said than done when you're on a losing streak though!).

We use the same approach with blackjack, which offers even casual players like ourselves, decent odds. If you know the basic rules and win on a couple of double down hands, it's not that difficult to find yourself up $50 to a hundred after a few minutes. However, most players we sit down next to will play until they lose what they started with instead of cashing out while they're still up. They'll also reach into their wallet and shell out more on a losing table. Years ago we also learned that if a table is empty, it's usually because that dealer is "strong" and wiping everyone out. Do not try to bet against the trend or the House.

And by that, I mean if you win in one place, don't hang around there too long -- or they'll get it back. That was the problem with Vegas World. It was a trap, a place where you could not easily walk out of and head to another casino, or take a break and do something other than gamble. Bob Stupak promised you something for nothing, knowing that even if you had some luck early on, eventually most folks would get greedy and wind up losing it all back to him. Unfortunately, he fell victim to that same mentality when he rolled the dice on his grandiose Stratosphere plans. But you have to admit, he dreamed big.


Speaking of which, my own big dreams took a hit after I came back down to earth last week. As I mentioned in a prior post, my hot streak continued when we returned home and via Facebook (ironic since I recently pooh-pahed social media in this blog) I had received a request for my Menehunes screenplay from a major Hollywood producer. It was totally out of the blue, and I suspect it was because he knew my former manager back when she repped Quentin Tarantino. I thought this could be the big break I've been waiting for -- that elusive jackpot, so to speak. Anyhow, it's been a couple of weeks and haven't heard back from him, so it's probably what is known in the business as a "soft pass." Sigh.


Below is a photo from our 1992 trip to Vegas en route to the Holiday Bowl, when the UH RAINBOWS beat Big 10 opponent, Illinois. Offensive coordinator Paul Johnson, now head coach at Georgia Tech, had that spread option going back in the day, and I sometimes wonder if that's a better fit for the kind of athletes UH is able to recruit... anyway, the jackpot was a quarter progressive at the Las Vegas Club on Fremont Street. I won over $1,600 and a comped five night stay for a return trip. And when we came back, sure enough the Las Vegas Club got it all back from us!

Vegas 1992

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Local Stories on National TV

October 5th, 2012

We interrupt my originally-scheduled blog on Vegas gambling lessons, to bring you this update on local folks who will be appearing on the Travel Channel and Cooking Channel this weekend -- people we just happened to have featured on my Career Changers TV show. More on that in a bit.

On Eden Eats, Cooking Channel 322/1322, you can catch her Honolulu episode in which they filmed Aye Aye Maw's Burmese Pop-up Dinner a few months ago. Although the premise of Eden's show is they visit different ethnic restaurants and eating experiences within a 24 hour period, they actually spend several hours  -- even days -- at each location to get the shots they want. In this case, it was the Pacific Gateway Center, and the filming crew was there for a very, very long time I was told. That episode also includes Agnes' Portugese Bake Shop in Kailua. (The owner, Non, and I go way back to my pre-rehab days when I used to frequent Jake's Hideaway on Bishop Street, where he was a bartender back around 1986-88.)

That episode airs today (10/5) at 4 pm and 8 pm, then again on 10/6 at 3 pm and 7 pm, but will probably be repeated throughout the month if you search for it. Our segment on PGC's pop-up dinners ran all last month on OC16 and can be seen on the CCTV YouTube Channel by clicking here. By contrast, our low budget run-and-gun shoot took only about 2 hours and was minimally invasive, which was greatly appreciated by the PGC staff and dinner guests.

Over on Travel Channel 325/1325 this weekend, Legends of Hawaii will feature paranormal investigator Preston Galera and Hawaiian historian/ghost tour guide Lopaka Kapanui. We just did new segments on them for our Halloween edition of Career Changers, premiering Saturday night on OC16 after high school football (around 9:30 pm). You can DVR it this weekend at 2:30 am on 10/7 or 9 am on Monday... or view them in small screen, lower res format by going to the Trick or Treat link on our website.Trick or Treat

You'll also find a couple of Lopaka's ghost stories that we couldn't fit into the show, along with segments from past Halloween episodes on that page. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll have more to post about other interesting news related to those people and filming that show!

For daily viewing times and other useful links, please visit and check out videos from past or current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend... and let's hope the Bows -- er, "Warriors" -- don't get blown out again in San Diego! BTW, Lopaka is related to Chad Kapanui, a former UH football player many old-time fans will remember.

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