I’ve been doing reviews on Trip Advisor for ten years, starting with out trips into Zambia, and the Robin Pope Camps. From time to time, when I give a restaurant five stars, Trip Advisor asks me “Is this one of the best meals you have ever eaten?”
We’ve eaten some fine meals in our lives and travels, memorable meals, in Monterey/Carmel, in Germany and France, in the Middle East. Some stand out. Maybe only once or twice have I said “Yes” that this is one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
At the Kona Brewing Company, in a little marina on the back side of Diamond Head, I had one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
It started with a ginger lemonade. Have I ever mentioned how much I love ginger beer? This was one of the strongest gingery drinks I have ever had, and it was magnificent.
My lunch was Shoyu Chicken, with spinach and carrots. The chicken was divine, with a teriyaki marinade and sauce. The spinach was equally wonderful, very garlicky. The rice was rice, but I was so far gone over the chicken and spinach that it just wouldn’t matter.
My Kailua friend had a root beer.
With Shrimp Tacos
And a mango slaw, which she said was surprising and also, wonderful.
AdventureMan had fish tacos, which he thought very good.
We left very happy people. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten.
We suddenly leave the noise and traffic of late afternoon Honolulu and head uphill on a narrow road, with trees creating a tunnel in places, and wild vines twining up into the trees to create walls of foliage.
“There’s something you have to see,” my friend tells us, and we head into this amazing canyon, sort of valley place, alternately dark with shadow and glowing with green light. “We hike up here all the time.”
She takes another tack, and we reach the top of a hill; she parks and we get out. It says we have to pay but she just laughs and says locals don’t have to pay. It’s late in the day and there is no problem finding a place to park, and the light is wonderful. There are more wild chickens, a strutting rooster, and lots of new chicks.
This is the story of Nuuanu Pali, and the great king, Kamehameha, who united the Hawaiian Islanders. He had to fight, he had to do terrible things to accomplish his goal. This was his last fight, where he forced 400 battling warriors off a cliff to their deaths.
And this is the view, late in the day with the sun behind us. Kailua, where we are staying in my friend’s beautiful happy place, is to our right, down on the coast.
I have never seen a “Beware of Bees” sign before.
We are all early risers, and we are off on a great adventure today, seeing the island as our friend sees it. One of her favorite places is Bellows Beach, next to the Air Force Base. We loved it, too, for its beauty and for its seclusion. The parking lot was full of cars that seemed to be doing business with one another, so we made sure to take our wallets and cameras with us.
And then, the brides started arriving. We had no idea that this was a “destination.” We stayed far back, not wanting to intrude, and watched them arrive, marry and depart. The limos were lined up as we left, with bridal parties waiting their turn.
This was a day when we were in and out of the car constantly, each sight more beautiful than the other.
At one of my favorite places, the waves crashed against the lava rocks, so beautiful. We would have stayed longer but we were choking from the smell of weed coming out of the surrounding cars.
In the Kona Crater, the plumeria are beginning to bloom.
And the bougainvillea provided a riot of color.
Diamond Head lighthouse from Diamond Head road.
Foster Botanical Garden was a pool of serenity in the middle of the chaos of Honolulu:
I loved that they had an Alaskan totem; the Alaskans and the Hawaiians are related.
I had asked my friend if we could eat “really good” Chinese food at some point while I was visiting, and she knew just the place.
My friend is a very laid back driver, but she is puzzled, she has never seen the parking lot so full before. It is so full we have to park across the busy street and walk across. The lot is full of small busses, and vans, and there isn’t a parking space to be had. Even all the illegal spaces are taken!
When we walk inside, we are filled with horror. There is an event going on at Pah Ke’s. Does this mean we won’t be able to eat there? There are about thirty very large tables, ten or twelve people at each table, eating some of the most delicious looking food I have ever seen. The waitress ushers us to a table over at the side; there are maybe three or four tables for people not in this large group.
“What’s going on?” we ask the waitress.
“Special celebration for this retired group; Chinese New Years,” the waitress replied.
The place was packed, many of the Chinese women in traditional bright red silk.
“It doesn’t look like much,” my friend said, “but everyone who loves Chinese food eats here. We have to start with their special salad”
The food came quickly, in spite of the large crowd. We got to watch the crowd depart as we savored our own delicacies.
I had never heard of a special Chinese salad before, but this salad is special Chinese-in-Hawaii salad, with tropical fruits and a sweet dressing, and watermelon. It is fabulous.
Scallops and asparagus on a bed of spinach. Great!
Our very favorite: Szechuan Eggplant and pork
Huge shrimp with walnuts
We ate it all. We didn’t take home a drop. We ate at Pah Ke’s again, on our way to the airport the day we left, and it was just as good. What a treat.
This is where we spent the rest of the day . . .
My friend has been urging us – for years – to visit her in her Hawaii home.
I’ve been to Hawaii before. I wasn’t excited about going back, but when our long and happy friendship hit the 50 year mark, I looked at AdventureMan and asked if he would like to go to Hawaii. He really wanted to go. I booked the flights, and booked a car. Talking with my friend, she told me to cancel the car, we wouldn’t need one. We could use hers if we weren’t going to all go together.
Arriving was such fun. My friend was there to greet us with traditional Hawaiian leis, and we drove from the airport to Kailua, where she lives, stopping here and there to learn the lay of the land.
Her house is beautiful. She calls it her “happy place” and she had a firm idea in mind when she had her home built. She wanted it in a local style, and she wanted it to be able to sleep a LOT of people. My friend is the soul of hospitality. There is a gathering wing, with the kitchen, living room and dining room, there is the entry and her private living quarters, and there is a a very large guest wing.
She looks out over the Pacific to the north of the island, and the sound of the waves crashing on her beach provides a constant, lulling background.
“What do you want to see in Hawaii?” she asked me as we were planning our trip.
“I want to see your life,” I replied. “I want to see where you go, what you do, where you shop for groceries. I want to see what makes you happy.”
So our first day there, she took us to the Kailua Farmers’ Market, and to several places she shops. I loved it.
This is the view behind the Farmers’ Market.
Beautiful flowers, beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables, and exotic fruits, apple bananas, ugly oranges (but they taste wonderful). We bought food for dinner that night.
In front of the Kailua Foodland, there were wild chickens, and she explained to us that chickens roamed wild everywhere. Once she pointed it out, we could see them, too.
“You won’t see this in Seattle,” my friend said, and showed me the Poke Bar in the Foodland. Poke is a fish native to Hawaii, and the locals love it fixed a hundred different ways.
They also had wonderful fresh vegetables.
Happy – or happier – Saturday. Doesn’t everyone want to be happy? Happier? As it turns out, the science of being happy is studied, and there are ways proven to improve your feelings of happiness. I found this on a website called Motto, through AOL News:
10 Science-Proven Ways to Be Happier
Science continues to find ever more specific and idiosyncratic ways we can bring just a bit more of happiness into our lives
We never get tired of thinking about happiness, do we? Life is so much nicer when you’re able to couple it with joy and gratitude.
We’ve published posts before about simple ways to be happy and retraining your brain for more gratitude, and Buffer’s CEO Joel has even shared his own daily to-do list for happiness. (There’s also our popular list of things to stop doing to be happier.)
Meanwhile, science continues to study happiness, finding ever more specific and idiosyncratic ways we can bring just a bit more of this elusive quality into our lives.
I love keeping an eye on these studies, and thought I would share the latest batch with you here to see if any of them might resonate with you and make you just a bit happier.
Here are 10 truly unique ways to be happier that you can start today!
1. Do cultural activities
Need a boost of joy? Trying seeing a play or heading to a museum.
A study that collected data on the activities, mood and health of 50,000 adults in Norway found that people who participated in more cultural activities reported higher happiness levels and lower anxiety and depression.
“Participation in receptive and creative cultural activities was significantly associated with good health, good satisfaction with life, low anxiety and depression scores in both genders,” the researchers write.
Curiously, men saw stronger benefits from receptive, or passive, cultural activities (like visiting museums, art exhibitions, concerts or theaters) while women more enjoyed active participation events (like club meetings, singing, outdoor activities and dance).
2. Keep a diary: Rereading it brings joy
To learn to find more gratitude and joy in every day—not just special occasions, the boring days, too—try keeping a diary and re-reading it from time to time.
Researchers who did a variety of experiments involving keeping a journal discovered that “ordinary events came to be perceived as more extraordinary over time” as participants rediscovered them through their older writings.
In other words, simply writing down our ordinary, regular-day experiences is a way of banking up some happiness down the line, when the activities we describe could bring us unexpected joy.
3. Make small talk with a stranger
Chatting up your barista or cashier? Good for your health!
Behavioral scientists gave a group of Chicago train commuters a $5 Starbucks gift card in exchange for striking up a conversation with a stranger during their ride. (While another group kept to themselves.)
Those who started conversations reported a more positive experience than those who had stayed quiet—even though they had predicted they would feel happier being solitary.
Another study saw similar results from giving Starbucks visitors a $5 gift card in exchange for having a “genuine interaction with the cashier.”
It seems that connecting with another person—no matter how briefly—increases our happiness.
4. But have meaningful conversations, too
While positive small talk is great, more substantial conversations could up our happiness quotient even higher.
A study that tracked the conversations of 80 people for 4 days found that, in keeping with the small-talk study, higher well-being is associated with spending less time alone and more time talking to others.
But researchers also discovered that even higher well-being was associated with having less small talk and more substantive conversations.
“Together, the findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary and conversationally deep rather than superficial,” the researchers write.
So dive deep in your conversations with friends and loved ones—it’s great for you.
5. Live in the suburbs and get involved
This one seems to apply to the U.S. A. only, but I still found it quite interesting.
I would have guessed that city dwellers might be the most satisfied with where they live, but in a poll of 1,600 U.S. adults, the highest rate of happiness was found in the suburbs.
84 percent of suburbanites rated the communities where they live as overall excellent or good, compared to 75 percent of urban dwellers and 78 percent of rural residents.
Another study on city happiness found that residents are happier if they feel connected to their cities and neighborhoods and feel positively about the state of city services.
So wherever you live, make sure to get involved in your community for maximum happiness.
6. Listen to sad songs: They provide emotional release
How could sad songs make us happy? And why do we seek them out?
That’s the question researchers wanted to answer with a survey of 722 people from around the world.
They discovered that there are 4 main reasons we take comfort in melancholy songs:
- They allow us to drift off into imagination
- They might provide us catharsis (emotion regulation)
- They allow us to relate to a common emotion (empathy), and
- They’re divorced from our actual problems (no “real-life” implications)
Researchers determined that “listening to sad music can lead to beneficial emotional effects such as regulation of negative emotion and mood as well as consolation.”
7. Spend money on experiences, not items
Here’s one that’s easy to understand but might be tougher to fix.
We know that spending money on life experiences will make us happier than spending money on material things (and it does!) but we can’t seem to stop ourselves from choosing the wrong option.
That’s what a study in The Journal of Positive Psychology found as they surveyed people before and after they made purchases.
The series of studies concluded that we’re more likely to spend on items than experiences because we can quantify them more easily and we want to see the best value for our dollars.
However, they found that the study subjects reported that after they spent, experiences brought them greater well-being and they considered them to be a better use of money.
So if we can keep that in mind, it’s possible to have our cake and eat it, too—definitely something to be happy about!
8. Set tiny, attainable goals: Make someone smile
It might be cliché, but making someone happy will make you happy, too.
And science says the more specific you can be with your goal, the better.
University of Houston professor Melanie Rudd found that a group of people who were told to make someone smile felt both happier and more confident that they’d actually achieved their goal than a similar group who’d been told simply to make someone else happy.
Even more interesting: In a separate experiment, people wrongly predicted that going for the bigger goal would make them happier.
“If you can meet or exceed your expectations of achieving a goal, you will be happier than if you fall short of your expectations,” Rudd explained.
9. Look at beautiful things: Design makes us happy
Could looking at a beautiful object make you feel happier?
The smartphone company HTC conducted a study that says yes.
In a series of laboratory and online experiments, volunteers looked at and interacted with objects that fell into 3 categories: beautiful, functional, or both beautiful and functional.
Their reactions uncovered some interesting findings, like:
- Well-designed objects that are both beautiful and functional trigger positive emotions like calmness and contentment, reducing negative feelings like anger and annoyance by almost a third.
- Purely beautiful objects (not functional) reduce negative emotions by 29%, increasing a sense of calmness and ease.
Objects that were both beautiful and functional created an especially high level of emotional arousal:
In general, people feel happier looking at and using beautiful objects that work well.
10. Eat more fruits and veggies
We know being healthier makes us happy, but can carrots give you purpose?
I have to admit I didn’t expect such a direct link between happiness and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables as researchers in New Zealand report.
Their 13-day study of 405 people who kept food diaries showed that people who ate more fruits and vegetables reported higher than average levels of curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions, as well as engagement, meaning, and purpose.
Even more interestingly, participants often scored higher on all of those scales on days when they ate more fruits and vegetables.
“These findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake is related to other aspects of human flourishing, beyond just feeling happy,” writes the research team.
So on our way home from lunch today, at the Siam Thai, AdventureMan and I are talking about his fortune cookie. (Mine said “learn Chinese” on one side and I can’t even remember what on the other side, something so non-interesting.) AdventureMan’s fortune said “Good people learn wisdom by making mistakes,” or something like that.
Off we went. So if you are not good, can you learn from making mistakes? Do you just keep making the same mistakes? Does making the same mistakes mean that you are not a good person? Can you make a mistake and not learn wisdom? Are all wise people good? Can you be evil and be wise? Like is the devil wise? He is said to be sly, and crafty, so how do those vary from being wise? Is Satan wise? Can you be evil and wise?
Segue’ to Mother Jessica’s sermon at Christ Church Pensacola yesterday, and It’s Not About the Chocolate as she explained that giving up chocolate or coffee or meat was not what Lent was really all about as we walk the path to become better worshippers of God and followers of Jesus. At the end of the service, as we exited, they passed out little chocolates. AdventureMan still had his chocolate (which he ate in front of me) and told me he had never negotiated with God. “Never??” I asked, in a tone which really meant “I call bulls#!t” and he said, no, never; never said “Please please, if you will only do this, I will do that.”
“OK,” I continued, as I can be relentless, “what about in Vietnam, was there never a time you said ‘Please, Please, Please’ about anything?”
“Yes, but I was never bargaining,” he explained, ‘I was begging. I had nothing to bargain with.”
So is begging, with no leverage, is that still negotiating? I think it is, Mother Jessica said bargaining, and isn’t begging bargaining with no leverage? We couldn’t agree. He says that is not bargaining, and we had to agree to disagree.
And the real point is, none of us have anything to bargain with. God laughs at our pathetic attempts to bargain. He likes the honest ones, like AdventureMan, who just cower in his magnificence and power and trust in his ability, and so beg, “please! Please!” We have to trust in his mercy and his compassion.
The worst and most memorable Lent I ever observed was in Kuwait. I became aware that I had started swearing in the car as another car would nearly side-swipe me, or some arrogant idiot would park in four spaces (yes, yes, I promise you, one car CAN occupy four spaces) and I was giving people rides and really, really needed to not curse, not just to protect their ears, but also for my own soul. Calling people names is worse for me than it is for them. I devised a strategy of elaborate politeness. When someone was going to bump me out of the way, I would gesture “Tfadl!” (“YOU are to be preferred! or “after you”) with a grand gesture and a big smile like it was My idea. After a while, elaborate politeness became my mode, and I got a lot of pleasure out of it, and mostly, I stopped cursing at the idiot drivers. Actually, I got so good at it that I didn’t even say “Idiot!”, but I could not control it popping into my mind from time to time . . .
And, sadly, we have some of those same . . . umm . . . idiots . . . here in Pensacola, so perhaps I need to redo my Lenten sacrifice and work on my attitude toward inattentive and /or aggressive drivers, especially those in great big trucks with bad eyesight.
Did you know the word for ‘honey’ in Arabic is ‘asel?’😉
My spam catchers have been so much better at catching these than they used to be, but somhow this one slipped through. If any of you want the 40% of 10 million, please feel free to contact Chairat Khun Chambers, he posts his e-mail as:
From the desk of Chairat Khun Chambers
Associate of chambers, 29 Chaeng Wattana,
Nonthaburi 11120, Thailand.
Good day to You,
I write you this message under strict recommendation and in good faith. I am sorry at the perceived confusion you may have by receiving this letter from me since we have not previously met. To be Straight, I am a solicitor at law and the personal Attorney to the late Engineer Edward , who used to work with SIAMRAK Company Limited in Bangkok Thailand.
On the 21th of April, 2012 it was reported to Me that my Client, his wife and their only daughter were involved in a Local Plane Crash at Phuket en-route to Bangkok (The Capital City) of Thailand, all occupants in the Plane lost their lives,unfortunately on this same flight were other dignitaries like the Sports Minister and a host of others,Since then I have made several enquires to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this unfortunately has proved unsuccessful.
Hence I seized this opportunity and decided to contact you for your help, I am contacting you to assist in repatriating the money and Property left behind by my client before they get Confiscated or declared unserviceable by the Bank where the fund are deposits, valued at USD$10 million Dollars has just recently issued me a notice to provide the next of kin of
The deceased or have the account confiscated within the shortest Period of time. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for Close to (4)years now.
I seek your consent to present you as the Next of kin of the deceased on your immediate approval and acceptance to assist me in this matter, so that the proceeds of this Account valued at USD$10million United States Dollars can be paid to you after which you and I can share the money.40% of the total fund would be for you while 40% for me, %10 for the expenses that will come out of the transaction and the other 10% will go to the charity and the motherless homes.
I have the necessary logistics that would be used to back up your claim at the Bank where these funds are deposited temporarily, all I require is your honest cooperation to enable this deal through and your willingness to carry out this project with me till it’s fruitful end.I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate Arrangement that will protect both of us from any breach of the Law to cover up your reputable name.
Please get in touch with me if you willingly accept this offer, So that I could forward immediately to you the necessary details on how we are to carry out this project to a fruitful end.
Barrister Chairat Khun (ESQ)
We’d been up late. This was the first text I received, early this morning, as we entered our day a little more slowly than usual.
“Shoot-out in Pensacola! Are you OK?”
Yes, we are OK, and we were in the thick of things last night. We’d both had long days, and we were headed to bed a little earlier than usual. I had just finished my prayers when I heard a very loud screech of wheels going around a nearby corner. Usually when the screech is that loud, it is followed by a crash or a thud, but this time the car seemed to be OK. Very soon after that, however, I noticed flashing lights on the ceiling, flashing and dancing in red and blue.
I know those lights. When we lived in Kuwait, we lived on a busy corner, a corner where the Kuwait police frequently set up check-points to check people’s residence cards. AdventureMan could sleep right through them, but sometimes I was wakeful, and would watch. There was a lot of drama as the cars had no where they could go, there was no where they could turn off, they were trapped. Many people who lived in Kuwait illegally, or whose visas had expired were caught and taken in to be processed and, if they couldn’t prove someone was sponsoring them, deported.
It was ugly, and heartbreaking, and sometimes . . . comical. Ancient Arab men would talk to the police, it was begging of a different sort, and kiss the policeman. Kissing a policeman is just something that would never occur to me, so to me, it looks absurd, but in the context of Kuwaiti culture, it is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes the old Arab man would get a pass, just as a pretty girl in the US will sometimes get a pass.
So I “arose from my bed to see what was the matter.” There were big SUVs with flashing lights blocking traffic to the south, seven or eight cars in an array to the north, cars blocking entrances to several streets to the east. The only traffic were Sheriff’s department cars, trucks and SUV’s, some with flashing lights, some unmarked. They were all working together.
I called the Police Department.
“I live at blah blah,” I said, “and there appears to be a lot of activity, flashing lights and stuff, is there something I should know?”
“We’re looking for some suspects,” the officer answered tersely.
“OK, thanks!” I chirped, not knowing any more than I knew before.
There have been gangs of kids who come through the neighborhoods from time to time, looking for unlocked cars to steal cash, guns, or even the cars if the owner leaves the keys in them. Recently three young teens in Pensacola stole a school bus and drove it for about three hours before being stopped. This response seemed a little extreme for neighborhood looters, even more grown burgers. There were a lot of resources involved, people, cars, canines, a lot of man-hours and teams of people going door to door, searching the backyards with flashlights and the dogs.
They searched our yard twice.
We have a high fence and keep our gates locked. When I saw the team methodically making their way towards our house, I called out to AdventureMan to go down and unlock the gates. As the team was trying to get in, I opened the window, and flashlights zipped up to illuminate my face.
“My husband is on his way now to unlock the gates to let you in,” I said.
One of the guardians of the law looked at me, astounded, and said “You lock your gates?”
It seemed very funny to me at the time, considering the activity, but I didn’t dare laugh, clearly this was serious business, and around then AdventureMan opened the gate for them.
It was a cold cold night in Pensacola, near freezing, and I felt sorry for the pure, hard work of searching house-to-house in the very cold temperatures.
A part of me also felt sorry for whoever was being chased, hunkered down somewhere, being chased by dogs, and, once the adrenalin wears off, being really cold.
Cars raced here and there, the teams continued their searches and we kept watch. We heard a helicopter, briefly, and we don’t know if it was a police helicopter or a news helicopter. Then, around 12:30, all the cars raced off. Somewhere. It was very quiet, and we gratefully went back to bed.
This morning I didn’t feel quite so sorry for the couple, who had invaded a house in our neighborhood, held a couple hostage, and then stole their car to escape. Those were the last few minutes of a man’s life, and he spent them terrorizing and stealing that which was not his. After another – their third – dangerous fast car chase, they were trapped, and a gunfight ensued, killing the man. During this final gunfight, Blake Fitzgerald used his girlfriend, Brittany Harper, as a shield.
I was never afraid. If you had seen the number of police / sheriff’s deputies out last night, you would understand. They were focused and professional. They were given an opportunity to practice their skills. They performed as a team, and you could feel that they were excited to be doing the job, on a grand scale, that they are trained to do. They stopped a couple on an interstate spree of kidnapping, abducting, robbing, invading houses, burglarizing and terrorizing. They can feel good today, about what they accomplished last night.
And I was just telling you in my last entry what a quiet life we lead . . .