News Headlines


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kona's Margaret Masunaga Will Become a District Court Judge

State Senate Special Session

The Hawaii State Senate was called into special session this week to take care of the "advice and consent" duties in the process of voting on three judicial nominees to the Hawaii State Circuit Court and the State District Court. Above District Court nominee Margaret Masunaga testifies before the State Senate Judicary and Labor Committee on Monday, October 20. I've met nominee Masunaga and talked to her for a few minutes. She is well liked by her associates on the Big Island. Her personality is very pleasant. I think she will be a good judge for the District Court in Kona.

Margaret Masunaga is currently with the Corporation Counsel for the County of Hawaii. She has served as a government attorney since 1992, previously at the Department of the Attorney General and the Planning Department. Ms. Masunaga was also an attorney in the private sector for Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel.

She will be confirmed by the full State Senate in special session today.

State Senate Special Session

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi testifies in favor of nominee Margaret Masunaga.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Photographing the Blood Red Moon

6 Phases of Today's Lunar Eclipse

Hawaii sky viewers were blessed with good weather early Wednesday morning as the moon went into eclipse for the second time this year. It was a cosmic show as the Earth's shadow slowly nibbled away on the night's full moon as the giant white disc slipped into darkness. At its apex was totality, an erie state of being where the Earth's shadow almost completely blots out the sunlight. While not exactly dark, the fully eclipsed moon turned a blood red / rustic orange color for all the world to see. And so there it was, the perfect cosmic photo op that had thousands of shutter-bugs snapping away in the early morning darkness. It was a sight to behold!

Today's Total Lunar Eclipse

Wide shot of the fully eclipsed moon high above my building.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign Brings Digital Projector to Honokaa People's Theatre

Honokaa Peoples' Theater

Honokaa People's Theatre has beaten the odds and got its funding through a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a new digital projection system in order to keep showing films well into the future.

The theatre was forced to purchase a $60,000 digital projection system in order to continue showing films beyond the end of this year. The movie industry is abandoning the practice of sending films out on 35mm prints and moving on to a digital delivery system. All of the big, mainstream theatre chains have converted to digital projection.

Small operators and second run movie houses have been caught in an expensive dilemma of either biting the digital bullet and upgrading, or going dark because of cost and the fact that movies will not be delivered on film anymore. Film projectors will become as obsolete as victrola phonographs, 8-track tape players and VCRs.

Because the cost of obtaining a digital projector was so great, Honokaa People's Theatre turned to the community in order to seek funding. The Kickstarter campaign was launched early this summer with the goal of bringing in $40,000 to fund a major part of the system. At the campaign's end on September 27, the theatre covered its goal and then some by bringing in $43,995.

The theatre held an earlier campaign in which it raised $10,000. The film Honokaa Boy is being used as a fundraising vehicle where it has been shown numerous times in the theatre. The Japanese made film was shot in Honokaa in 2008 where the theatre itself was one of the central locations in the story about a young man's relationship with an older woman.

To say the least the operators of the theatre are happy as expressed in their latest Kickstarter email: "Big mahalos friends!  From the bottom of our hearts, we love you all and we're so glad to be here! Wooo hooo we made it!"

Honokaa People's Theatre has been in business since 1930 operated for most of its existence by the Tanimoto family who owned other theaters on the Big Island of Hawaii. The theatre changed hands in the late 1980s when Dr. Tawn Keeney bought it and upgraded the facility over several years.

Today People's Theatre not only shows movies, but is a showcase for many live music and dance events as well as classes for the people in the Hamakua - Honokaa community.

While a digital future is assured in Honokaa, Hilo's discount movie theatre in the old Kress building closed on September 26 because its operators Regal Entertainment Group could not justify the cost of upgrading their equipment to digital. The theatre space has been leased to a church.

The author spent his childhood and teen years in Honokaa and attended many movies at People's Theatre from the 1960s through the late 1970s. He is one of the donors to the Kickstarter campaign. Written and photographed by Melvin Ah Ching. Photos (top): Honokaa People's Theatre familiar facade. Below: The interior of the theatre looks much like it always has except that some of the front row seats were removed to make room for a larger stage area.

Honokaa People's Theater

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Surf's Up! Honolulu's South Swell

Today's Southern Swell

The waves were pumping this weekend. I was lucky enough to find some time to capture these images of the raging surf that brought happy surfers to the beach. The waves attract not only surfers but also adventurous and casual photographers as well as curious onlookers. The large waves are not recommended to anyone who does not have experience with these type of conditions. Honolulu life guards spend quite some time warning and rescuing people. The safest spot to be is on shore and watching the surf from a distance. It also helps if you have a decent camera with a good telephoto lens. The day I shot this the only cameras I had were my 8 megapixel Canon S5 iS Super Zoom and my iPod Touch. The photos in this set were taken with the Canon.

Big Waves at Sunrise

Gotta love the sunrise light of this shot.

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

The waves seem to come in sets that create layers.

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

Today's Southern Swell

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

The southerly wave action creates quite a salt spray that corrodes a lot of things over time.

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

The sunrise light is one of the best times to take these surf shots.

All of the published photos stream on this embedded Flickr slideshow. I have not only the waves, but also some of the people watching and photographing the event, as well as some sunrise shots. All photos were taken by Mel on September 14, 2014.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Flickr Set: A Trip to the Top of Oahu - Mt. Ka'ala

Destination: Mt. Ka'ala

I'm starting a new feature here at The Hawaii Files. It's the Flickr Set of the Week. As some of you know, I post thousands of pictures to the Flickr photo sharing service every year. Over the past 10 years I've managed to post more than 17,000 photos to Flickr. I'm still adding photos on almost a daily basis to Flickr of just about anything and everything.

I figure why not share some of the Flickr sets and albums with The Hawaii Files readers. So here we go.

Last year I was lucky enough to be invited to go on a State Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) excursion to the top of Mt. Ka'ala in the Waianae mountains on Oahu. Mt. Ka'ala is the highest peak on Oahu rising 4,025 feet above sea level. The tall mountain is actually a plateau and is located in a pristine watershed area and rain forest that is zoned for preservation by the State of Hawaii.

What I learned on the day-long excursion is that the area like several others in the State is the home of valuable watershed, a place where our life giving water originates. The Mt. Ka'ala Natural Area Preserve encompasses 1,100 acres of lush, green rain forest. It is the home to many rare plant and animal species like the tiny Happy Face Spider. Endangered plant species are numerous and rare.

One thing for sure about Mt. Ka'ala. The weather can change quite fast. It may look clear and sunny from the base. However by the time you reach the top of the mountain, it can be socked in with low lying clouds with falling rain.

Access to the mountain for the general public is by a grueling uphill hike. Once you reach the top, you are greeted by a wooden boardwalk that spans the publicly accessible rain forest. If the weather is clear one may be able to catch spectacular views of areas downslope from the mountain.

Government officials use a narrow, private road that is closed to the public. Signs and a locked gate at the road's beginning warn the public to stay away or face a monetary fine or arrest.

Waianae Mountains 2

A view of Mt. Ka'ala from urban Honolulu. It's a world removed.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

The top of Mt. Ka'alA is often shrouded by low-lying clouds (fog) and rainy. Here is a view from the top and the nearby FAA tracking station that is off limits to the public.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Happy Face Spider, though the face doesn't seem to be present.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

The wooden boardwalk at the top.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Gotta love the lush green ferns.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Top of Mt. Ka'ala - 4,025 ft.

Flickr slideshow: More than 100 photos.