Hawaii really is nice even though it rained about 11 of the 14 days I was there. No, I mean it seriously rained, not the little daily showers they say they get. A couple of storms moved over the islands while I was there. An Islander told me one day was one of the worst storms she had seen in ten years. That was the one where I was on the road at 7 am going to catch a boat. "What?" you ask, "You were going to catch a boat in a storm that was so bad that bridges were washed out and trees and boulders were falling on the road?" Why yes, I was, because I called at 6:55 and the freaking message on their freaking answering machine said the trip was still on. When I get to the pier (after dodging a tree and a boulder and edging carefully through four-inch deep water in the wrong lane of a bridge because my lane was a lot deeper) they tell me, "Oh, we decided at 4 am not to go out today." Bastards.
OK, I'll admit it, I kind of enjoyed the drive (the car was a rental, after all). But still, they could have changed their freaking phone message.
Thanks to the weather, I never did get to go diving. I found a great beach for snorkeling one drizzly afternoon but I didn't have my gear in the car so I went goggling with some swim goggles. It was fun. Goggling is more challenging than snorkeling and you can see just as well, but you can't go as far. I didn't feel safe going out over the reef without footwear and fins. Then yesterday the storm had cleared out and the sun was shinning and I went back to the beach to find that the surf was up and visibility was only about 8 feet. Better than Monterey where I usually dive, but still not great. It was too dangerous to go out over the reef even with footwear and fins. The waves were breaking over the rocks and you really don't want a breaking wave to drive you down onto rocks. I just reach out to steady myself on the reef one time and it made a really painful gash in my finger. I did get to see a giant see turtle though, that was cool. Other than that, it was just a bunch of fish.
Did some brief hiking and watched a lot of TV. The TV was actually almost vacation-like since I haven't had TV for two years. And I like rain and storms. So although the weather would have made it a pretty awful vacation for most people, it was actually not bad for me. I wish I could have gone boating, diving, and kayaking, and done a bit more hiking, but all-in-all, not a bad vacation.
It could have been a much worse vacation if I had ended up going to Thailand. At one point, that was one of my three destination choices.
You know when something happens like that tsunami in the Indian Ocean, I feel like I want to do something to physically help. Sending money just seems so impersonal. I want to go there and help people.
According to the papers a lot of people had become separated from their families and I suspect that there is no system in place to help families link up again. It's probably all done informally. And I suspect in some of those poor areas, people aren't that easy to match up.
I have a lot of experience designing databases applications that make use of demographic data for matching people up, so I was thinking about volunteering to write a family-matching program. Even called the Red Cross to see if they have anything like that and to volunteer to write it for them. They never called back. Maybe it's not the problem I expect it to be. Or maybe the Red Cross just doesn't do that.
But then I was thinking about the refugee camps in Chad and other places where a system like that might be needed so I'm thinking about doing it anyway. I'll have a post on it later.