IMR: 1998: August: 20 -- Thursday, 8:55 p.m.
Mauka Parking Lot, Kahala Mall, Hawai`i
In what I hope will become a regular occurance, Katie and I met up with dad at Ward Warehouse this afternoon for a late lunch.

[ Grandpa ]We chowed down on Korean food, dad springing for an extra plate to bring home for Jen. Then, while we shot the breeze about local politics (HPU's fight to kick the homeless out of Fort Street Mall, the "High Three" benefit scam for elected state officials, etc.), he and Katie did some high-level bonding.

Katie seems to like grandpa quite a bit, letting him hold her still on his lap considerably longer than she would tolerate with anyone else (including me). She also demonstrated her fetish for grabbing eye glasses, reaching for dad's but only getting handfulls of cheek or nose.

I noticed that whereas Jen and I make kissing sounds and pant playfully to get a smile out of Katie, dad -- like many of the male nissei in my family -- provides entertainment in the form of toungue clucking. I'm not sure if she finds the sound as pleasant as smooches, but she will definitely associate it with grandpa.

Dad also had a lot to say to his granddaughter, mostly concerning her future skills and hobbies. He seems to harbor high hopes that she will become a skilled surfer, tanning herself over the years to a color considerably darker than her present fair, hapa complexion. Like Jen and I, dad also fantasizes that Katie will one day attend Kamehameha Schools. Unfortuately, if she follows in my footsteps, she's going to fight that prospect with preposterous acts of sabotage.

After cleaning our plates and dodging more than a few kamikaze birds, the three of us wandered to the end of the shopping plaza to the new "Native Books & Beautiful Things" store -- an artists co-op where all sorts of Hawaiian crafts are sold.

It's the third and so far largest location for the charming store, looking to celebrate it's official grand opening next week with artist demonstrations and live music.

We looked over the tapa print shirts, stained glass sculptures, and quilts. They sold all manner of books, including tomes on both sides of the sovereignty issue. I noted that it's interesting that while Thurston Twigg-Smith -- publisher of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- is one of the strongest anti-sovereignty folks out there, his newspaper devotes considerable space to covering the issue. Indeed, the mainland-mimicking Honolulu Advertiser pretty much pretends the movement doesn't even exist.

Having toured I liked what I saw, and was quite impressed with how well the presumably risky venture was doing. I asked aloud, "I wonder if they have a web site?"

Dad, not surprisingly, knew some of the partner-artists personally, and asked if one was around. Although she wasn't, the guy he asked turned out to be the co-op's operations manager. Without missing a beat, my dad mentioned that I did web pages.

"Let me get your name," he said.

And during the ensuing conversation about web galleries and electronic commerce, a woman at the cash register who overheard the phrase "web design" also asked for my phone number.

Unreal. At this rate, I'm going to have to print Leahi.Net business cards.

Having fulfilled my networking quota for the month, dad and I headed out the door. Vowing to do lunch again sometime soon, we parted ways, and I headed home to give Katie a short nap before heading out for the afternoon's second adventure.

Mary, former business associate and fellow online diarist, had proposed some time ago that the colorful crew that make up the on-island portion of my now-infamous IsleTies link page get together in real-life, just for the hell of it.

Of course, given the reclusive nature of most of the people listed, the response was weak. Organizing the event was further complicated by the fact that Mary was on her way to the altar (and has, if all went well, already tied the knot with her snugglebuns). So a week ago, I took it upon myself to give it one last shot.

Even with the promise of begging and a ban on digital cameras, only five people expressed any interest in hooking up. I got some very nice regrets, but many more invitees opted to ignore the idea altogether. With only 20 hours to the big event, I swiftly set a place and time and just hoped for the best.

So at 5:30 p.m., Katie and I arrived at the Zippy's restaurant near Pi`ikoi and South King streets, half expecting to be dining alone. Lo and behold, there were two people already there.

Lurking outside the dining room entrance, smoking and shuffling their feet, stood the internationally notorious Albert (aka Panther) and the thoroughly local Kory.

Katie, who had been awakened from a perfectly good nap to attend, merely blinked at the pair in the bright afternoon sunlight as we caught up and mumbled a bit about the absence of other participants.

"Figures," I said, chuckling. "The three of us already know eachother!"

Both Albert and Kory were especially disappointed that Squinty Boy (The Artist Now Known Merely as Mu) was nowhere to be seen. The mere possibility, it seemed, was their greatest incentive for showing up.

We stood there for nearly 40 minutes, no doubt making the management a little nervous, carefully checking out every car that drove through the parking lot. Apart from a suspiciously dressed passenger in a Cheverolet Blazer that merely circled the lot and left, it seemed pretty clear that the three of us were it.

Somewhat annoyed, we made grand speeches about the nature of the online journal. Common tactics like domain blocking, password protection, secret URLs and the use of aliases were analyzed. Of course since the three of us have our real names and photos plastered all over the web, we were less charitable to the more cautious among us.

The basic consensus was, "If you don't want people reading, why put it up in the first place?"

Access control and anonymity only works to a point, we figured. First of all, figuring out real identities only takes a little bit of work. (William has instilled in me quite a fondness for electronic reconnoissance.)

Secondly, in libel law, you only need two people who can identify a person -- aliases or acronyms or not -- to make a case for defamation of character. Since those two people can simply be the author and the "stupid fat coworker," absolute anonymity is merely an illusion.

As Greg once opined, however you cast it, what you're doing is publishing. Publishing comes with benefits and pitfalls. Deal with it, or go back to your old marble composition books.

Having thoroughly rationalized our clearly foolish lack of personal privacy, we moved over to the drive-in section of the restaurant for a considerably cheaper meal. Albert and I watched aghast as Kory mixed a cup of mayo into his bowl of chili.

Then Squinty Boy appeared.

"Holy cow," I said.

He joined us, and we gleefully recapped the afternoon's discussion regarding his suckiness. Since Squinty Boy had blocked access to his journal site to any domain in Hawai`i, we bitched about the ridiculous ends we had to go to in order to read his ramblings.

And for the next three hours, we just talked and talked and talked. We talked about Windows NT, the web design market in San Francisco and the various manifestations of racism on the mainland. We talked about the famous Mountain View Bon Dance in California, beer, the bathrooms on the UH campus, and of course, sushi.

Katie, at least at first, was quite entertained. She was especially enamoured of Squinty Boy, giving him the biggest smiles, and constantly reaching for his groovy, glowing watch. Albert was also equally dazzled, once muttering, "He's even cuter in person."

Indeed, Kory regularly cringed and blushed, seemingly terrified the whole evening that Albert would get too frisky. But even when Albert let a comment slip here and there, the ever cool Squinty Boy took it in stride.

As the evening drew on, Katie got hungry, wolfing down an entire jar of applesauce. Then she got tired and grumpy, and performed extensive tests of the restaurant's interiour acoustics. Let's just say Albert, who earlier grumped that I must have been lying about her ability to babble, got an earful of evidence to the contrary.

Eventually, she passed out. That was our cue to call it a night.

We parted ways in the dark parking lot, joking about how the four of us would cast the meeting in our respective online outpourings. I would have a head start on my two fellow O`ahuans, however, what with Kory's computer thoroughly fried and Hamilton Library closed through Monday.

Squinty Boy even suggested offhand that we might give it another try next Monday, before he returns to the Land of Endless Chinese. Even if it's just the four of us again, I wouldn't mind at all.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 20 August 1998 · Last Modified: 21 August 1998