IMR: 1998: December: 04 — Friday, 9:08 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

The sky is falling!

Well, it sure as hell seems like it. "Blistery blustery" doesn't even begin to describe things about this town lately. High-wind warnings remain in effect for all islands, say the "broadcast meteorologists," but translated into English they're simply saying, "Watch your heads, folks."

Walking to campus today, I was practically blown into the street waiting to cross University Avenue near the CBA building. Inside its halls, papers, leaves and potato chip bags swirled in mad tornadoes in every corner. Everywhere I looked there were tipped garbage cans and fallen palm fronds, and as I walked from Kato's class to Hawaiian over at Moore Hall, no fewer than three foot-long twigs whizzed past my head.

I quickly developed a phobia of trees, which is not a good thing in Manoa Valley. I was convinced I could turn around any minute and get brained by an airborne log.

Although I probably swallowed half a dozen bugs while on campus, at least I got to enjoy the absurdity of watching big haired, skirt-wearing shoyu bunnies stagger around, clutching their pager-bedecked-purses tight, trying to figure out where their one free hand was more needed.

[ Thud ]But the wind was wreaking havoc everywhere else in town, too. During my drive to work, my commute was delayed by not one, but two trees that toppled into traffic, both having fallen apparently mere minutes before I got there.

As I headed down Bishop Street, more tattered newspaper pages were crossing the street than pedestrians. Incredulously, I looked up to see three men on a scaffold hanging off the GTE building, struggling to tie several strings of Christmas lights to a set of wildly swaying ropes, hanging from the roof in the shape of a Christmas tree. Who says the spirit of Christmas is dead?

Late, covered with leaves and sporting a Kosmo Kramer hairdo, I burst into the office ready to read off my excuses and apologies. And it was empty.

On my desk, a handwritten note: "The crew is at Gordon Biersch to celebrate Abbie's birthday. Your presence is requested." In a different handwriting, a caret and the word "humbly" was inserted before "requested."

I raced back out, dodging the garbage scurrying about on Fort Street Mall, and crossed over to Aloha Tower Marketplace. It was obviously the place to be for lunch for the downtown set, and as I walked to Gordon Biersch, I admired the mu`umu`u and aloha shirt Friday fashion surrounding me.

[ Birthday Girl ]My coworkers weren't too hard to find, thanks to "The Hat." Apparently a longstanding tradition in my office, a nice gathering is held for anyone celebrating a birthday, but the guest of honor is required to wear a cone-shaped paper hat.

(I wore "The Hat" too, but my party was mercifully held in the office.)

Everyone ordered big, fancy dishes, but I settled for an appetizer plate of calamari, since I had stopped at home to lunch with Jen. Even so, the plate was piled with huge pieces of squid, and I spent most of the meal trying to get others to take some.

[ The Gang ]Spirits were high, and everyone couldn't get enough of Steve, without a doubt the office's resident "character." With his boundless appetite, he was constantly offered food, to which he would immediately reply, "I couldn't possibly!" Of course, he dove in with his fork as he said that.

As we patted our full bellies, we spoke wistfully of the upcoming Christmas party. It's on Monday. We also began planning a going-away party for Lovisa, who would be returning to Sweden in January.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

After we got back to the office, David and I turned right around and headed out to CompUSA to start work on yet another Big Project.

Our boss is singularly fixated on achieving the elusive "paperless office." A couple of weeks ago, a total ban on outgoing faxes was handed down, the only exceptions being communication with offices that don't have e-mail. ("And I don't expect there to be many in that category," he said, "as I don't see how a company can be a member of this organization and not have even the most basic of internet access.")

With everyone slowly adapting to the change, struggling primarily with the troublesome nature of file attachments, we've moved on to the next logical step.

Like most offices, when we send a fax, we print it on paper before feeding it into the fax machine. Ultimately, that piece of paper gets trashed, its lifespan less than an hour. With fax server software and a spare computer, we figured, everyone would be able to fax a document right from their computers, bypassing the printing step entirely.

Then there's incoming faxes. As it stands, we make three copies of every important fax we get, despite the fact that very often not a single copy escapes the "circular file" by the end of the day. With the fax server, faxes are received and shared only as digital image files. We could send a copy to everyone in the office without killing a single tree, and only if absolutely vital would a sheet of paper be sacrificed to make a printout.

So we shopped. We picked up the software and fax card and headed back. But before I had a chance to set it up, we had a meeting with representatives from iLink, the telecom company that Abbie had recently hooked up with.

Abbie conceded that iLink was a MLM operation, and that even she had her doubts. But since she felt their product was genuinely promising, she was giving them a chance.

And indeed, the iLink concept -- essentially a variation on the popular "one number" setup, using "IP telephony," a network of regional servers and slapping a web interface on it -- was pretty cool. I saw potential, even though they kept saying "that capability is coming soon" and even though they were running the demo over a zippy, 9600 baud VoiceStream data connection.

Ultimately, though, while iLink seems a tenable option for realtors and sales associates, there was no useful application for our office environment.

After shaking hands and trading business cards, I went back to my desk. Finally, it was time to get to work. And it was 4:15 p.m.

Suffice it to say, by the time I'd finished everything I had to finish -- none of it related to faxing, video encoding, or database integration -- it was almost 7 p.m. I ended my crazy day with dinner at Zippy's with a somewhat miffed Jen.

To think, everyone in the office considers this season, between meetings and before the holidays -- the "slow" season. As the International General Meeting in Hong Kong draws near, I don't even want to think about what my hours will be.

Hey, that's Bob!

Bob Hu, one of the more unusual teachers I had at Mililani High School. He's on TV, in the news. He's apparently getting some flak over one of his class projects.

Let's see. Students do a variety of service projects to earn points for a grade. Volunteer, give food to the homeless. Neat idea. The problem is, apparently, that you also get points for bringing items for a Christmas party and buying things for a grab bag.

The more expensive the gift, the greater the points. I guess I can see how some kids might be upset.

Aw, geez. Karen Knudsen, vice chair of the Board of Education, was interviewed for the piece. She said: "that's totally unappropriate and against any board policy or any practice."

(Surprise... the KHNL transcript of the story corrects her speech.)

I love our public school system.

Honestly, I'm a proud product of it.

But, well, I'll still sell a kidney if it'll get Katie into Kamehameha... or even Punahou.

Parenthood. It messes with your head.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 4 December 1998 · Last Modified: 15 December 1998