What the Heck?
COURTESY KC COLLINS
Professor Joe Ciotti takes the controls of his NASA flight simulator at Windward Community College. CLICK FOR LARGE
How to land upside-down in Kaneohe
Last week I crash-landed a Cessna 172, ending up upside-down next to the runway. Fortunately, I was piloting the single-engine plane on the NASA flight simulator at Windward Community College.
Professor Joe Ciotti, who pilots a real Cessna 172, had booted up the simulator because I so obviously wanted to play with it. With the patience of a man who each year introduces 13,000 public and private school students to the wonders of science, he didn't mock me for crashing. "You're probably not used to flying with a computer joystick," he said. "Kids are better at it."
In Ciotti's Aerospace Lab, stuffed with computers and airplane models, students can do everything from designing aircraft to eavesdropping on real flight-control radio traffic. And that's just one of his labs. He's got another designed for younger children. Plus an Imaginarium, which is a kind of high-tech planetarium. And his pride and joy, the new Lanihuli Observatory.
The observatory's $15,000 16-inch telescope is in storage, awaiting the arrival of a 16-foot steel dome to cover it. Currently in pieces, the dome's on its way across the ocean in a Matson container. It will go up when Ciotti finds insurance for the members of the Carpenters Union who've volunteered to assemble it.
Windward, the smallest of the state's community colleges, is a study in contrasts. Ciotti's science buildings are brand new. But most of the campus is 1930s buildings originally designed for the Hawaii Territorial Hospital (yes, the one where if you act crazy, people say you'll end up in Kaneohe).
For instance, Ciotti's wife, Nancy Heu, presides over a deteriorating library with peeling paint. The library's Hawaiian collection is stuffed into a closet. The tab for a new library, including new classroom space: $43 million. "We did get a grant to plan it," says Heu. "We'll just be patient and wait our turn."
COURTESY LANCE TOMINAGA
Scottish bagpipers ruled at Celtic Beer Night at The Willows restaurant. CLICK FOR LARGE
Last weekend, the Hops & Grinds event at the Willows probably set the record for most men in skirts.
The Celtic Beer Night became the unofficial kick-off party for Honolulu's annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games. About 500 people, many of them men in kilts, showed up to drink Scotch whisky and ales, watch championship Highland dancers who'd flown in from Canada, and listen to bagpipes.
"Where's the haggis?" a number of people asked. It was supposed to be a joke. Haggis, beloved only in Scotland, is traditionally made from sheep's heart, liver and lungs cooked in a sheep's stomach.
Willows chef Jay Matsukawa, who'd never even seen haggis, rose to the occasion, whipping up a relatively benign local version, a sort of meat loaf with a traditional beer, Scotch and oatmeal gravy.
"I'm not touching it," said Matsukawa's boss, Kyle Nakayama. "He won't tell me what's in it."
Daniel Peddie, chieftain of the Hawaii Scottish Association, gamely pronounced it the best he'd had outside of Scotland.
Last call: "Obviously, we're not superstitious," says Mountain Apple president Jon de Mello. Tickets for the Cazimero Brothers 30th annual May Day Celebration go on sale this Friday, the 13th.
De Mello insists this is the last Cazimero May Day concert, at least in its present form. There may be May Days in the future, but they're not likely to be the big show in the deteriorating Waikiki Shell.
Back home in Indiana: Manager Brad Salmon fought zoning hassles and the perils of running a co-op to renovate and expand Kokua Market. He did so despite having the longest commute in the Islands.
Salmon and his wife live in Indiana, on a 5-acre bamboo farm six miles from a town called "Little Nashville," population 800. Given the drive and connecting flights, it's a 16-hour journey one way.
Having made more than 50 round trips, Salmon's an expert on jet lag. ("Just stay on Hawaii time," he says.) His Indiana neighbors think he's nuts not to just move here. "They envision me at the beach," he says. "Actually, when I'm here I hardly ever leave the store. I just tell them paradise is a state of mind, not a place."
Aging gracefully: Founded in 1847, Parker Ranch is celebrating its 160th anniversary. "We think we may be the oldest business in Hawaii," confides ranch CEO Chris Kanazawa. "We don't want to say so, because it will look like bragging. And we may be wrong."
Good choice. Because even though Theophilus Davies himself didn't show up in Hawaii until 1857, the present Theo H. Davies & Co. claims it's a direct descendant of a firm called Starkey & Janion, founded in 1845, two years before the ranch.
Since Theo Davies is now part of a Hong Kong firm, I suggested Kanazawa claim Parker Ranch was the oldest locally owned company in the state. "Shoots, that doesn't sound good," he said. "Maybe we're the oldest working cattle ranch in the U.S."
Red wine: "The revolution is not a dinner party," said Mao Tse-tung. So to celebrate its exhibit of propaganda posters from China's Cultural Revolution, last Wednesday the Pegge Hopper Gallery held a Proletarian Wine & Cheese party.
In the '60s, Mao, his power slipping, unleashed the Cultural Revolution, plunging China into chaos. His main weapon: posters in which rosy-cheeked soldiers and peasants promised to "smash the dog heads of those who oppose Chairman Mao."
The 100-plus posters were collected by retired businessman and teacher Dennis Keating, who spent 10 years in China. Keating dressed his fiancée, 23-year-old Sandy Yang from Guangzhou, in a miniskirt Red Guard outfit. The two will marry in the gallery on the last day of the exhibit, April 21.