A tradition honoring 9/11 is upheld by sheet metal students


One in series of stories showcasing how HonCC remembers 9/11 this week. Maia Mayeshiro talks with Danny Aiu, professor at the HonCC Sheet Metal and Plastics Program.

Students from the Honolulu Community College Sheet Metal and Plastics program and their professor, Danny Aiu, have been for the past 16 years fabricating American flags made of sheet metal in remembrance and honor of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and of those who perished that day. One such flag is displayed on the HonCC campus 9/11 memorial situated between Building 2 and the campus preschool.

…but I don’t WANT to remember.

Larry L. Medina
lmedina@hawaii.edu

It was about four in the morning when walked over to my computer and logged onto the Web via AOL, and once the three-minute screaming, squealing dial-up process was over, I noticed the webpage was mostly blank, save for a lone photo of a building on fire. Damn AOL, I thought, when will we ever get fast, reliable Web access? I walked over to the TV and tuned in to CNN, which showed the same smoking building, somewhere in Manhattan, and something about a plane crashing into it. Ahh, those tall buildings, I said to myself. This had happened once before, to the Empire State Building back in the 1940’s. Must have gotten lost in the clouds.

On my way to work, stuck in traffic out near Mililani, the radio DJ’s started to talk of that poor building. And then, what-? Another plane had just crashed into it? Or was it the twin tower next to it? What’s up with these air traffic controllers this morning, directing planes into buildings! Then there was speculation, talk, chatter, gossip that hey, these were not accidents. We’re being attacked, announced another station I had turned to.

Attacked? By whom? So it wasn’t planes that crashed into those buildings-? Had they been missiles? Who’s attacking us? Russia?

Ohhh shit, the Pentagon just got it too? What the hell – now the White House might be a target? By the time I had reported in to work, TV’s throughout my office building were showing raw footage of passenger jet planes slamming into gigantic towers, interspersed with long clips of Middle Eastern crowds positively giddy that America had gotten sucker-punched this terrible morning.

One of my co-workers was Muslim. From Malaysia, I think. She wore that head covering, that shawl of sorts that is traditional to her culture and her religion. She was a nice lady – prolly the nicest gal in the building. Now she was the enemy, and I hated her. The rest of the office came to feel the same way toward her. She quit some months after the attack. At the time, I was glad she left. Good riddance.

It’s been 16 years since that horrible morning. It was a really bad day for everyone. A really bad day for myself. I remember, but I don’t want to remember, because when I recall 9/11, it is these memories that fill me with dread, fill me with anger, fill me with hurt, fill me with uncertainty. As a patriotic American citizen and human being of this Earth, I still have no closure with this one day.

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity offers homes, help, hope


Reporter Maia Mayashiro talks with Kayla Rosenfeld of Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit housing organization.

Larry L. Medina, writer
Maia Mayashiro, reporter
Fredrene Balanay, video

Kayla Rosenfeld of Honolulu Habitat for Humanity is on a mission. The nonprofit organization “is all about building homes who need the assistance… [to] build decent affordable housing for people here in our community.”

The organization works with homeowners build their own home with the help of staff and volunteers. Through this effort, the cost of a home is greatly reduced. Habitat for Humanity also has a Home Preservation program, designed to help existing homeowners improve the safety, value and appearance of their home. The program also helps the elderly get their homes ADA-compliant, allowing them to stay in their home and community, instead of moving out and into an assisted-living facility or care home.

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity also runs a donation warehouse/home improvement store (ReStore), like those run by Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army. “If you’re a student and you need to furnish your apartment, come check this place out – you’ll find some really inexpensive things there,” said Rosenfeld. ReStore sells new and used furniture, appliances, building materials and home accessories to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Sales from ReStore directly fund Honolulu Habitat for Humanity’s mission of building affordable homes in communities on Oahu.

The organization offers volunteer opportunities to students interested in helping Habitat for Humanity fulfill its mission.

“As a nonprofit organization with a really, really tight budget, everything goes into the funding and construction of our homes. Volunteers make a huge difference in our organization, so I’m hoping that some of your students can take some time out of their busy schedules and come volunteer with us,” said Rosenfeld.

Volunteers can learn about retail (working out of the donation warehouse), working with people and learning organizing skills. Rosenfeld said volunteers would learn “what it takes to help an individual feel good about what they do and what they experience.”

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity contact info:
Phone (808) 538-7070 • info@honoluluhabitat.org
922 Austin Lane, #C-1 • Honolulu, HI 96817
Office Hours from 8am to 4 pm

ReStore Hours – Tues-Sat 9:30-4:30 (808)380-8617

New scholarship helps 90 at HonCC

Close to 1,000 students enrolled at the University of Hawaii’s community colleges — including more than 90 at Honolulu Community College –will receive help from new state-funded scholarship designed to eliminate cost as a barrier to higher education.

An estimated 996 students statewide are eligible to have their tuition and other direct attendance costs completely covered this fall, thanks to the Hawaii Promise program, which was established with $1.8 million from the Legislature, according to a report in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The individual awards range from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars a year at the community college campuses, where annual resident tuition is just under $3,800 for full-time students.

The program will act as a so-called “last-dollar scholarship” that kicks in after all other federal aid — such as Pell grants — and public and private scholarships are exhausted

“If we reach a point where there is still a certain amount of unmet need not yet covered by grants, that’s the Hawaii Promise program: It’s a last-dollar scholarship that closes that gap so we can truly say to that student, ‘It’s covered,’” John Morton, UH’s vice president for community colleges, said in an interview.

To determine eligibility, students have to demonstrate financial need as defined by the federal government through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, for direct attendance costs: tuition, mandatory fees, books and transportation. The direct cost to attend one of UH’s seven community colleges is roughly $5,000 a year for residents when fees, books, supplies and transportation expenses are added in.

To be eligible, students also need to qualify for resident tuition, be enrolled in a degree program and take at least six credits — typically two classes — per semester. Students receiving Hawaii Promise funds will need to maintain their federal financial aid standing, which requires a minimum 2.0 grade point average and evidence of progression toward a degree.

The colleges — on four islands — specialize in career and vocational training programs including culinary arts, automotive technology, dental hygiene, veterinary technology, criminal justice and construction technology.

The $1.8 million in startup funding for Hawaii Promise was calculated based on the financial needs of existing students. Of the 24,000 students slated to attend a UH community college this fall, 1 out of every 3 students is receiving some form of need-based financial aid.

Here are the details:

STUDENTS RECEIVING HAWAII PROMISE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2017-18

Hawaii Community College: 101
Honolulu Community College: 92
Kapiolani Community College: 188
Kauai Community College: 85
Leeward Community College: 271
UH Maui College: 169
Windward Community College: 90
Total: 996

First medical cannabis dispensaries now open

Christopher Garcia
Larry L. Medina

Two dispensaries in Hawai’i were approved in the first week of August to sell medical cannabis to qualified patients, 17 years after Hawaiʻi first OK’d the use of it for medicinal purposes.

The dispensaries that were approved were Maui Grown Therapies on Maui, and Aloha Green on O’ahu. Six more cannabis dispensaries are awaiting approval.

Hawaiʻi was one of the first states to approve the use of medical cannabis, 17 years ago. Until now, Hawaiʻi residents registered as medical marijuana patients have had no legal way to buy the drug.

For everyone else, however, the use of cannabis (the preferred professional and cultural term for marijuana), remains illegal in Hawaiʻi on the federal level.

Hawaiʻi law requires all qualified patients to be registered with the Medical Cannabis Registry Program before they begin to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. The registration process begins when an appropriately licensed physician certifies that the patient has a health condition that can benefit from medical cannabis. The patient is registered when the Department of Health issues a “329 Registration Card.” The department’s goal is to issue the patient’s 329 Registration Card in a timely manner so that patients can begin or continue to legally use medical cannabis.

To qualify for a 329 Card, one must either have a “debilitating medical condition” or “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” recognized under the law. This is done via screening from a certified medical cannabis consultant. The process can take an average of 32 days, but there are several welcoming consultants that help applicants through it.

One such person is Paul Klink, founder and certified medical cannabis consultant for the Honolulu Wellness Center. His clinic provides screening for patients and helps them fill out the necessary forms. He can also “legally give you recommendations about variety to mitigate your symptoms or ailment, to what you can expect.”

The Department of Health is also required to provide law enforcement officials with limited access to the Medical Cannabis Registry Program’s database as a tool to safeguard the community against illegal cannabis use and/or illegal cannabis grow sites.

Until now, it was legal for people with a medical cannabis card to have and use it, but they werenʻt able to buy it legally until the state changed the law in 2015.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance oversees the dispensary licensure program to monitor the quality of the cannabis products from seed to sale. This includes statewide oversight of the laboratories that test the safety and quality of the cannabis and manufactured cannabis products, and monitoring of the dispensaries that will grow, manufacture, and sell the products to qualified patients.

Advocates of medical cannabis have hailed the dispensary program as a major breakthrough. The goal of the dispensary licensure program is to make medicinal products readily available to registered patients while balancing the health and safety of patients and the public.

Hawaiʻi approved its first laboratory in August to begin testing samples of medical cannabis.
Steep Hill Hawaiʻi, a Honolulu-based firm, was granted a provisional certificate after successfully demonstrating a “capacity and proficiency to test cannabis” and make sure marketed products are in compliance with state law.

“Certification follows a rigorous scientific process that requires meticulous attention to detail and constant refining to ensure product and patient safety,” said Chris Whelen, chief of DOH’s state Laboratories Division.

The change in the law holds significant impacts to its supporters — the patients, the medical professionals, and the dispensaries.

Klink does not just send patients on their way after they complete their application. He says, “you’re part of our ohana.”

He is extremely passionate about his work, saying that “seeing you smile and seeing you happy is what [he is] doing this for.”

One of his patients was a “23-year-old, confused autistic child, [who] never said a word of English in his life,” Klink says, “Two days later, [the patient] looks at his dad and calls him ‘dad.’ ”

He recounted another moment when he went to one of his patient’s funerals. At the funeral’s end, the patient’s son said to Paul, “Uncle Paul, thank you for getting my mom out of the opiate cloud and giving her back to us with giggles and conversations for the last three weeks.”

Klink is a patient, as well. He has hypoxia (low oxygen), “many” cardiac implants, and had his thyroid removed due to cancer. Klink says, “The only reason I’m sitting in front of you, I believe, is because of Cannabis.” He also says that “…it’s not as good as as the proponents want you to believe it is, it’s not as bad as the detractors want you to believe it is, but it’s really good for what it’s good for…”

When legalized in 2000, Klink got his 329 Card to try Cannabis. He says, “A few years later, I was able to stop all opiates and use cannabis exclusively to mitigate Level Ten pain all the time.”

Me Fuimaono-Poe, founder of the Malie Cannabis Clinic, also certifies patients for medical cannabis use. She says that she wants to create a “comfortable and safe environment” for her patients as they go through their applications. This is to ensure that patients are relaxed and comfortable enough to talk about sensitive issues.

Mahalo for reading. Here’s a Letter from (not) the Editor – click on this link:

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Majestic mantas of the Kona coast

Eddie Meza
“Diver Eddie”

This past summer, I received a call early one evening from former divemaster-student-turned-ohana, Michelle Nicotre. She informed me that there was a dive that has been on her bucket list for years, and that it was time to see it through. Michelle, a wild card, is the type of person that dives head first to achieve her dreams and I for one was not about to miss out on one of her classic shenanigan-laced adventures.

Her dream was the famed Manta Ray night dive on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Manta rays in their current form have been around for 20-25 million years. Humans, on the other hand, have been in their current form for just 200,000 years. It seems that as far as mantas go, there is no need to fix what isn’t broken. They also happen to be one of the more mysterious ocean dwellers as further research is being conducted on these amazing rays.

Night dives are by far my favorite kind of dive, ominous, perplexing and a true test of one’s ability to keep calm, as I personally have found myself face to face with some of the ocean’s more “grumpy” characters in their prime hunting hours (admittedly my fault in, ahem, most of those cases). If you have never been on a night dive, do yourself a favor and make it happen. Done safely, it’s mind blowing – diving a spot that you have dove multiple times during the day suddenly seems new and unexplored at night. The only visible area is the conical illumination of your torch (dive light). You never really know how vulnerable you are in the ocean since you have no idea what may be swimming next to you (cue “Jaws” theme music).

The Big Island, one of the more unpredictable Islands of Hawai’i, has much to offer through its lands and ecosystems. With active volcanoes, flowing lava, black sand beaches and the sides of volcanoes that you can ski or board-! this island has something for everyone. But I want to take a second to say this: landing on the Big Island was a big wake up call for me to understanding what Hawaii truly feels like. It’s hard to explain, but it’s what’s the locals call “aloha” – go there, and you’ll know what I mean the second your slippers hit the ground.

The manta ray dive is on the Kona Coast of the Big Island, and there are plenty of well-established dive operations ready to accommodate you, so do some research before making the trip and decide what’s right for you. I went with Kona Honu Divers, for no reason in particular, other than it’s the only company that wasn’t completely booked. Let me tell you from the perspective of a Master Instructor, though, this operation was top notch. I was very impressed with the knowledgeable, friendly and professional staff. I am one to scrutinize an operation, especially one that I drop big bucks on (including the total cost of the trip).

The boat they used to ferry us to the dive site was immaculately clean and the captain ran a tight operation (and killer fast!). Small things that one might not notice (unless you have worked in the industry) like the organization and storage of the lead weights were a welcome observation and shows an attention to detail that many other operations would have otherwise allow to fall though the grates. For those with their own gear and advanced training as myself you may notice that some operations will be less then accommodating to your level of diving, as we tend to enjoy instruction at a distance (Advanced Divers and above in my experience are like vegans; they can wait to tell you). This was not the case here. I was left to my own devices as I travel with my own gear; the staff were aware of my status as an instructor, but were more than happy to answer any questions I had. All in all, I was very impressed with this dive operation. Don’t forget to tip the crew and captain, because it’s no easy job and no one’s getting rich any time soon. It’s truly a labor of love, this industry.

The dive preceding the mantas was underwhelming, but this is from the eyes of someone that dives clear Hawaiian waters on the regular, so this was a routine dive for Michelle and I. If you are traveling from a land-locked area, this dive is a relaxing opportunity to get back into gear with buoyancy and controlling your breathing rate. You have the option for a one tank dive that is focused on the manta dive, but if your bones have dried out, I recommend the 2 tank dive starting at in the evening and extending into the night, to reacquaint yourself with the ocean.

The dive itself starts as the sun disappears and the night sky takes over. The boat was full of anticipation as the staff gave their dive brief. As we geared up, you could see the bright blue LED’s they use to attract the plankton illuminating the water. The feeling of jumping into new, unknown waters at night is a sensation I have come to love. My heart fills with excitement, anticipation and a healthy dose of adrenalin – what a feeling. As I descended, my eyes were drawn to the bright LED’s that made everything they illuminated look like a blue dream; the bubbles take on a blue glow with every breath I took, my dive buddies looked like they’re glowing, Everything’s very Jacques Cousteau meets Electric Forest.

As we settled in, we were led to the LED’s, set up like an underwater campfire, with rocks surrounding the lights. We were directed to take a position around the area. As I settled in, I played with the illimunated bubbles from my regulator, watching the curious fish that swam over to see what all the hubbub was about.

The LED’s are used to attract the plankton that, in turn, attract the hungry mantas (sorry plankton, food chain and all). We waited in anticipation for what seemed like hours as my mind recanted that, while rare, sometimes the mantas don’t show up at all and we certainly did not want this anomaly to occur that night.

But after abut 15-20min the plankton formed a thick cloud around us as the first manta ray appeared from the abyss, like a shadow emerging from the darkness. The feeling is of seeing one of these amazing creatures for the first time is indescribable and truly must be experienced for oneself.

The first manta ray that appeared was enormous, about 12-13ft in “wingspan” and was incredibly graceful. The ray didn’t seem to mind us or our bubbles as it glided and dove overhead. As we kneeled there mesmerized by this sight, another one joined us for the night.

They say that at times, 10 to 13 can show up but that even two mantas is truly a treat. The way they glide together almost seems choreographed, impossibly complex yet graceful, something that only be appreciated with just two mantas.

I remember looking over to Michelle and wondering why she wasn’t moving, as she was frozen next to me for some time like a statue. I eventually got her attention and exchanged a smile and nod, letting me know she was just fine (a great feeling that two friends can share without words). I later found out that she had been crying tears of joy, and was frozen in amazement. So add crying to the list of things that are possible to do underwater along with sneezing and…..other things ; )

As the dive came to an end it was hard to accept that I was running out of air and couldn’t stay with my new manta buddies, but the ocean is not our world, and we are only allowed to visit.

As we left the dive site packing our gear, the boat was full of laughter and divers talking about how incredible the dive was, filled with the “afterglow” of a great dive. I took the opportunity to hang out at the bow of the ship looking out at the pitch-black ocean in front of me. As I gazed at the stars I recalled the words of Nietzsche, “If thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” When would I come back, and to what lengths would I go to achieve this level of dive again?

As for the rest of the trip I recommend the helicopter tour, ever seen lava, me neither until that day, shiz is crazy. The black sand beach is a treat and don’t miss the great scenery at the parks. Make the most of it, get out of the hotel and chain store shopping areas and go enjoy the real Hawaii. Hit up the small shops and local artists, you know, support the people that make Hawaii great.

Special thanks to my good friend and Divemaster Michelle for making this possible and to the team at Kona Honu Divers for their great dive operation. And why not U-Haul as well – there were no more cars to rent so my divemaster Michelle had the genius idea to rent a U-Haul van – a great move!

Now check out this link:

SCUBA with Diver Eddie

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