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Dr. Bortrum

 

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05/15/2001

Wanderings

Aloha! As Sandra Bullock says in the movie "Miss
Congeniality", if aloha means both hello and goodbye, how do
you know when the conversation is finished? I saw this movie
yesterday while in flight from Los Angeles to Newark. This
flight involved something I have not experienced during all my
years of flying. My wife and I were congratulating ourselves for
being seated in the 25th row of the Boeing 767 after being in the
44th row of a DC 10 a day earlier on a redeye flight from
Honolulu to Los Angeles. However, before takeoff, a young
Continental employee politely asked us and others to move to
any seats elsewhere in the plane so long as they were behind the
28th row. He explained that he needed 70 people back there in
order to balance the plane for takeoff and landing! I had just
read a brief article describing the physics that allows an airplane
to fly but, obviously, there is more to flight than was covered in
that article.

The reason for these flights was that we were returning from a
cruise to Hawaii celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. The
pre-cruise routine was also somewhat strange, thanks to an 1886
maritime law that apparently requires a foreign port be included
in an itinerary that otherwise includes only American ports of
call. Our ship, Royal Caribbean''s Rhapsody of the Seas, had
docked in San Diego the morning of our embarkation. There, it
discharged its passengers on a cruise from Mexico. It then sailed
from San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico to await our arrival that
afternoon! For us, and the other 2,000 passengers, the 2-hour
drive down the Baja California peninsula was preceded by being
transported by bus from the airport to a holding area to await
transfer to other buses. Although there was much grumbling
among the passengers about this cumbersome arrangement, for
me the final bus ride was one of the highlights of the trip. The
scenery was spectacular and the opportunity to see the homes of
the Mexicans, contrasted with the opulent resorts along the way,
was fascinating.

In San Diego, we visited the city''s Museum of Natural History,
where we saw a marvelous large-screen movie "Ocean Oasis",
which provided a perfect prelude to our bus ride. The movie
dealt with marine and shore life along the Baja peninsula and the
huge screen and marvelous surround sound were particularly
effective when the breaching of whales was portrayed. If you''ve
never been on a whale watch, and I haven''t, see this movie in San
Diego - you''ll feel as though you''ve experienced the real thing.

Lest you think that my reason for surprising my wife with the
cruise to Hawaii was strictly an anniversary thing, my wife will
point out that I had an ulterior motive. Wives are always right of
course and it was true that an objective of the trip was to
consummate a golf match with our good friend Dan in Honolulu.
The match was supposed to have occurred two years ago, then
again a year ago. But both times circumstances forced a
postponement. In the interim, the buildup of the "Sandwich
Islands Big Match" in our e-mails grew to monstrous
proportions, exchanging golfing triumphs and disasters,
jockeying for strokes to be given or taken away, etc. Speaking of
golf, one of our dinner companions on the cruise was a gal who
was very closely related to both a current PGA tour golfer and a
much older truly legendary figure of the game. And wouldn''t
you know, she doesn''t golf!

Back to ulterior motives for the trip, ever since I was a young
lad, I had two dreams. One was to visit New Zealand, a
destination that we reached a decade or so ago. The other was to
see a volcano in action with the red lava flowing. The cruise
itinerary included a stop in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.
With a nighttime sailing around the southern part of that island
on the way from Hilo to Kona and a cabin facing the island, I
was hopeful of seeing at least a bit of a red glow from the lava
flowing from Kiluea. That volcano has been erupting since
1983.

For those of you who may not know, the Hawaiian Islands are
the result of plate tectonics and a volcanic hot spot that has
stayed in pretty much the same position for many millions of
years. Plate tectonics is a science that has come into its own
since I was in college. It hasn''t been too long ago that the sliding
and bumping together of great landmasses finally became
accepted as a proven fact. Now, for example, residents of Los
Angeles must be resigned to the fact that some day their city will
slide up the coast and become just another suburb of its rival, San
Francisco. I''m always somewhat relieved when I leave
California without experiencing an earthquake resulting from
plate tectonics. (I have been in LA and in San Diego during a
couple of minor rumbles.)

Back to Hawaii, as the Pacific plate slides to the northwest over
this volcanic hot spot, the lava builds up to form an island and
the plate moves on. Kauai, the oldest of the major islands only
dates back about 5 million years, according to one of our bus
drivers on that island. Currently, with Kiluea venting enough
lava on average to fill 75,000 dump trucks every second, the Big
Island is still growing. All this island building comes with a
price, however. Scientists now believe that some day, a large
portion of the island is going to crack off the rest of the island
and fall into the sea. Aside from the consequences to anyone
who happens to be on that chunk of island, a tidal wave of huge
proportions is likely with catastrophic consequences for coastal
residents. Paradise has its dangers! When we were in Hawaii a
number of years ago, a man was lost when he wandered out too
far on one of the relatively newly formed lava sites, which did
indeed break off and slide into the sea.

I should also note that today, new real estate is being formed
underwater and sometime soon the next new island in the
Hawaiian chain will poke its head above the ocean surface. You
might want to buy a lot while prices are cheap!

The Hawaiian Islands continue to wander. The Pacific plate is
moving roughly towards Japan at a rate of about three and a half
inches a year. Dan and I did indeed play the Sandwich Island big
Match on the Pearl Country Club golf course, from which you
can see the monument built over the sunken naval vessel, the
Arizona. It is ironic that in this year marking the 60th
anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii''s economy is crucially
dependent on the Japanese tourist trade. Indeed, in Honolulu we
found many more Japanese than American tourists. At three and
a half inches a year, it''s going to take a while but, by the time
Hawaii is just off the coast of Japan, it probably will have
become part of Japan by default!

In case you''re wondering, my dream of seeing a volcano in
action was fulfilled beyond my expectations. I spent a couple
hours on our balcony searching with binoculars for a red glow
and gradually became convinced that I had spotted something.
As we approached closer it was clear that Kiluea was putting on
a great show. The ship''s captain pulled the ship to within a mile
of shore and stopped for about an hour so we could savor the
experience. A wide area of the mountainside was covered with
streams of bright orange lava and occasionally there would be
bright flashes of yellow where I assume new lava was belching
out of the ground. We could also see the lava dripping into the
sea. It was the most awesome thing I''ve ever seen and worth
every cent I paid for the cruise!

The outcome of the other ulterior objective? Dan, who is a real
golfer, not a hacker like me, beat me by 20 strokes - as I had
expected. However, my last shot was out of a sand trap and it
came to rest only a couple inches from the hole. Dan graciously
conceded that I had won a moral victory of sorts and bought me
my mahi-mahi sandwich. We both agreed that, though the round
was most enjoyable, the planning and foolishness in the two
years preceding the match gave more pleasure than the
execution. Incidentally, I must thank his son-in-law Jimmy for
the loan of a great set of clubs that, however, deprived me of the
unfamiliar-rotten-club excuse for my errant shots.

I also want to thank Dan, Jeanne and Virginia for their gracious
Hawaiian hospitality. Virginia, 90 years young, offered the use
of her empty condo overlooking the Ala Wai canal. From this
condo, we saw the brightest rainbow my wife and I had ever
seen. We also saw its end in the hills about a mile or more away.
But, like Hawaii, this rainbow was a wanderer and, as we
watched it, the end of the rainbow moved slowly but surely in
our direction until it was right below us in the canal and the
rainbow dissolved. We owe this fascinating experience to you,
Virginia.

In previous columns, I''ve written about rainbows and also about
an exceedingly intelligent African grey parrot named Alex. In
Kona we met Hutch and Aileen, friends who had recently moved
from our area to Kona. They treated us to a delightful lunch and
a visit to their new home, where I met my first African grey
parrot. While this guy didn''t have anything to say except for
something interpreted as blowing kisses, I did make eye contact
with him. It was a bit unnerving actually. I felt as though this
bird was sizing me up and finding me unfit to waste his time on
with idle chatter.

Well, it''s time to again say aloha, which in this case means
goodbye.

Allen F. Bortrum



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-05/15/2001-      
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Dr. Bortrum

05/15/2001

Wanderings

Aloha! As Sandra Bullock says in the movie "Miss
Congeniality", if aloha means both hello and goodbye, how do
you know when the conversation is finished? I saw this movie
yesterday while in flight from Los Angeles to Newark. This
flight involved something I have not experienced during all my
years of flying. My wife and I were congratulating ourselves for
being seated in the 25th row of the Boeing 767 after being in the
44th row of a DC 10 a day earlier on a redeye flight from
Honolulu to Los Angeles. However, before takeoff, a young
Continental employee politely asked us and others to move to
any seats elsewhere in the plane so long as they were behind the
28th row. He explained that he needed 70 people back there in
order to balance the plane for takeoff and landing! I had just
read a brief article describing the physics that allows an airplane
to fly but, obviously, there is more to flight than was covered in
that article.

The reason for these flights was that we were returning from a
cruise to Hawaii celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. The
pre-cruise routine was also somewhat strange, thanks to an 1886
maritime law that apparently requires a foreign port be included
in an itinerary that otherwise includes only American ports of
call. Our ship, Royal Caribbean''s Rhapsody of the Seas, had
docked in San Diego the morning of our embarkation. There, it
discharged its passengers on a cruise from Mexico. It then sailed
from San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico to await our arrival that
afternoon! For us, and the other 2,000 passengers, the 2-hour
drive down the Baja California peninsula was preceded by being
transported by bus from the airport to a holding area to await
transfer to other buses. Although there was much grumbling
among the passengers about this cumbersome arrangement, for
me the final bus ride was one of the highlights of the trip. The
scenery was spectacular and the opportunity to see the homes of
the Mexicans, contrasted with the opulent resorts along the way,
was fascinating.

In San Diego, we visited the city''s Museum of Natural History,
where we saw a marvelous large-screen movie "Ocean Oasis",
which provided a perfect prelude to our bus ride. The movie
dealt with marine and shore life along the Baja peninsula and the
huge screen and marvelous surround sound were particularly
effective when the breaching of whales was portrayed. If you''ve
never been on a whale watch, and I haven''t, see this movie in San
Diego - you''ll feel as though you''ve experienced the real thing.

Lest you think that my reason for surprising my wife with the
cruise to Hawaii was strictly an anniversary thing, my wife will
point out that I had an ulterior motive. Wives are always right of
course and it was true that an objective of the trip was to
consummate a golf match with our good friend Dan in Honolulu.
The match was supposed to have occurred two years ago, then
again a year ago. But both times circumstances forced a
postponement. In the interim, the buildup of the "Sandwich
Islands Big Match" in our e-mails grew to monstrous
proportions, exchanging golfing triumphs and disasters,
jockeying for strokes to be given or taken away, etc. Speaking of
golf, one of our dinner companions on the cruise was a gal who
was very closely related to both a current PGA tour golfer and a
much older truly legendary figure of the game. And wouldn''t
you know, she doesn''t golf!

Back to ulterior motives for the trip, ever since I was a young
lad, I had two dreams. One was to visit New Zealand, a
destination that we reached a decade or so ago. The other was to
see a volcano in action with the red lava flowing. The cruise
itinerary included a stop in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.
With a nighttime sailing around the southern part of that island
on the way from Hilo to Kona and a cabin facing the island, I
was hopeful of seeing at least a bit of a red glow from the lava
flowing from Kiluea. That volcano has been erupting since
1983.

For those of you who may not know, the Hawaiian Islands are
the result of plate tectonics and a volcanic hot spot that has
stayed in pretty much the same position for many millions of
years. Plate tectonics is a science that has come into its own
since I was in college. It hasn''t been too long ago that the sliding
and bumping together of great landmasses finally became
accepted as a proven fact. Now, for example, residents of Los
Angeles must be resigned to the fact that some day their city will
slide up the coast and become just another suburb of its rival, San
Francisco. I''m always somewhat relieved when I leave
California without experiencing an earthquake resulting from
plate tectonics. (I have been in LA and in San Diego during a
couple of minor rumbles.)

Back to Hawaii, as the Pacific plate slides to the northwest over
this volcanic hot spot, the lava builds up to form an island and
the plate moves on. Kauai, the oldest of the major islands only
dates back about 5 million years, according to one of our bus
drivers on that island. Currently, with Kiluea venting enough
lava on average to fill 75,000 dump trucks every second, the Big
Island is still growing. All this island building comes with a
price, however. Scientists now believe that some day, a large
portion of the island is going to crack off the rest of the island
and fall into the sea. Aside from the consequences to anyone
who happens to be on that chunk of island, a tidal wave of huge
proportions is likely with catastrophic consequences for coastal
residents. Paradise has its dangers! When we were in Hawaii a
number of years ago, a man was lost when he wandered out too
far on one of the relatively newly formed lava sites, which did
indeed break off and slide into the sea.

I should also note that today, new real estate is being formed
underwater and sometime soon the next new island in the
Hawaiian chain will poke its head above the ocean surface. You
might want to buy a lot while prices are cheap!

The Hawaiian Islands continue to wander. The Pacific plate is
moving roughly towards Japan at a rate of about three and a half
inches a year. Dan and I did indeed play the Sandwich Island big
Match on the Pearl Country Club golf course, from which you
can see the monument built over the sunken naval vessel, the
Arizona. It is ironic that in this year marking the 60th
anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii''s economy is crucially
dependent on the Japanese tourist trade. Indeed, in Honolulu we
found many more Japanese than American tourists. At three and
a half inches a year, it''s going to take a while but, by the time
Hawaii is just off the coast of Japan, it probably will have
become part of Japan by default!

In case you''re wondering, my dream of seeing a volcano in
action was fulfilled beyond my expectations. I spent a couple
hours on our balcony searching with binoculars for a red glow
and gradually became convinced that I had spotted something.
As we approached closer it was clear that Kiluea was putting on
a great show. The ship''s captain pulled the ship to within a mile
of shore and stopped for about an hour so we could savor the
experience. A wide area of the mountainside was covered with
streams of bright orange lava and occasionally there would be
bright flashes of yellow where I assume new lava was belching
out of the ground. We could also see the lava dripping into the
sea. It was the most awesome thing I''ve ever seen and worth
every cent I paid for the cruise!

The outcome of the other ulterior objective? Dan, who is a real
golfer, not a hacker like me, beat me by 20 strokes - as I had
expected. However, my last shot was out of a sand trap and it
came to rest only a couple inches from the hole. Dan graciously
conceded that I had won a moral victory of sorts and bought me
my mahi-mahi sandwich. We both agreed that, though the round
was most enjoyable, the planning and foolishness in the two
years preceding the match gave more pleasure than the
execution. Incidentally, I must thank his son-in-law Jimmy for
the loan of a great set of clubs that, however, deprived me of the
unfamiliar-rotten-club excuse for my errant shots.

I also want to thank Dan, Jeanne and Virginia for their gracious
Hawaiian hospitality. Virginia, 90 years young, offered the use
of her empty condo overlooking the Ala Wai canal. From this
condo, we saw the brightest rainbow my wife and I had ever
seen. We also saw its end in the hills about a mile or more away.
But, like Hawaii, this rainbow was a wanderer and, as we
watched it, the end of the rainbow moved slowly but surely in
our direction until it was right below us in the canal and the
rainbow dissolved. We owe this fascinating experience to you,
Virginia.

In previous columns, I''ve written about rainbows and also about
an exceedingly intelligent African grey parrot named Alex. In
Kona we met Hutch and Aileen, friends who had recently moved
from our area to Kona. They treated us to a delightful lunch and
a visit to their new home, where I met my first African grey
parrot. While this guy didn''t have anything to say except for
something interpreted as blowing kisses, I did make eye contact
with him. It was a bit unnerving actually. I felt as though this
bird was sizing me up and finding me unfit to waste his time on
with idle chatter.

Well, it''s time to again say aloha, which in this case means
goodbye.

Allen F. Bortrum