10/1/15 Chronicles



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I was very busy all last week, so I just didn't bother keeping track in the blog... because of all of the new Fall shows, I've been really busy with the site, too.

A friend of ours had an old guitar, so I borrowed his instead of buying a new one. It was missing the bottom string, so we took it to the guitar store in the Ward Warehouse on Wednesday. I bought a new string and they put it on for me. I also bought some picks and a tuner. By the time this all happened, I only had two days to practice before my lesson on Friday. Still, it was a lot of fun. Apparently, when one learns guitar, one gets calluses on the left hand fingers. That's just normal. I've never heard of this before! Unfortunately, my friend thought his guitar is a 3/4 size, which I need because I have very small fingers and hands. However, it's a full-size guitar. It's free, though, so I'll stick with it for now.

The guitar lessons studio is over a mile away, and I can't lift the guitar and its case, let alone drag it for a mile. I took a big cart that I had and stuck the guitar in there, but with the case it's just too difficult (top heavy). I need to get a strap or something. I had to walk very slowly because my cart kept tipping over, so I was late for my lesson. I ran into our neighbor, Susan, and she was teasing me about it. She said, "I'll bet you wish you had taken up the ukulele!" Ha ha! Also, it was a very hot day. I was exhausted and hot and sweaty by the time I arrived. It made my lesson a little more difficult.

The teacher is very nice, but I guess he's not used to dealing with older ladies, or maybe just not haoles like me because he thought that I was being a little difficult during the lesson; that's because I temd tp complain a lot, and it was very difficult for me to play in front of him, since I don't know him very well yet. So I was sort of babbling with nervousness as well is complaining, I had to make it clear to him that I wasn't resisting his teaching, or anything like that – I'm just a complainer and a babbler. He replied, "Oh, so it's just a you thing?" "Exactly," I said. That explains why he seemed a little annoyed with me during the lesson. I thought maybe he just didn't like that I kept asking questions. I need to learn to relax while I'm at the lessons because clearly I'm being too annoying. But, then again, he doesn't realize how physically difficult this is for me because he's been playing since he was 11. Between my tiny hands, and the fact that I have two herniated discs in my spine, it makes it very hard to play the guitar. I end up with a lot of pain. I really don't why the pain, but until I build up the calluses and the muscles, it means I can't play for very long without pain that might make me stop playing. Well, we'll see what happens. I can already see great improvement over last week.

He only has me working on two things: the chords E A and D, for the song "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield; and an E scale. At first, playing the scale was really hard because my background is more piano. On a piano, scales are much easier to understand, since all of the notes are on the keys which are right next to each other. Guitar is like a whole other animal. However, once I took it home and worked on it, and memorized the pattern, it became much easier. With all of this, I still have a problem of not pressing down on the strings hard enough, particularly with my little finger. Hopefully that will be better after I get the calluses. Last week, he seemed to think I was doing really well, despite only having two days to practice. I hope that this week, that he's even more impressed! I practiced almost every day this week, except for Sunday, when I was very tired and had a lot to do. I only practice for about a half hour, at least for now.

He has a concert in November with his students, so if I've improved enough in the next week or so, then I can play at the concert, too. It's at the Hard Rock, so that will be very cool. Speaking of concerts, I keep forgetting to tell him that I also played the flute when I was in elementary school. In some ways, I think that's more like the guitar. You have to learn how to play the notes, and they're not obvious like on the piano. It certainly was easier back then when I was really young!

On the way back from lessons, I found the place that we had passed a few weeks ago that sells shave ice. It is a tiny little place, like most of the stores around here, but it has a huge selection of different types of shave ice; they serve it with all different kinds of things, including ice cream, and some weird things I've never heard of. Apparently, shave ice is originally from Japan, from what I've read, anyway... I just had the rainbow flavor, like usual. It was really good.

Apparently there is a sci-fi group here in Honolulu, called the Last Outpost. It doesn't look like they meet regularly, though. Too bad. I was hoping to find some people to go to the movies with when my other friends can't make it. However, they do have an outing on Halloween on Waikiki where they walk around in costume. We do that, anyway! So I'll see if we joined them or not. From what I've heard, they're mostly people in their 40s.

I think the new allergy pill the doctor gave me is helping… I can't really tell yet. We've been eating at home most of the week, so that's helped the allergies quite a bit. Were both trying to lose weight, and it's hard to do that when you eat out. Not that I've been very successful at it so far! It doesn't help that I keep finding new gluten-free pizza sources. Now Walmart has one that you don't even have to refrigerate it's just a pizza crust, and you bake it with your favorite toppings. It's not bad.

Don't forget to check my twitter feed https://twitter.com/SuzanneLan  because I post a lot on there every day, and I don't bother repeating most of it here in my blog.

I've been working a lot on my site… It's doing very well. I had Marcos, who rents my site put up some site statistics for me. I'm just not sure how to read them, and I keep asking him about them, but so far we haven't been communicating very well. Either my site is doing really well, and I'm getting over 300,000 unique monthly visitors, or it's doing pretty well and I'm just getting over 100,000. I keep waiting for him to get back to me on the clarification, but I guess he's been very busy. It's frustrating because I want to know! If it's over 300,000, then I can do some more things that I couldn't do before.

We're still getting a lot of rain. We've had a few cooler days. It's still too hot in our apartment, though.

I think I'm giving up on the idea of cleaning the apartment. It just seems that I'm not capable anymore of finding the time and energy. It's getting very dirty, though, so I'm going to have to call to make an appointment to have it cleaned. If only I can keep it orderly long enough to have it cleaned! Let's put it this way, I've had a big pile of recycling – bottles, cans, bags, cardboard, etc. – sitting in the front entry area for at least a month. We just haven't gotten around to taking it downstairs yet. Also, I've had a big pile of papers, letters, and magazines sitting around for months, and it's taken me three days just go through it. We won't even discuss the large boxes of business cards sitting in my living room that I still have to go through!

My arm was hurting me earlier, due to too much time on the computer, and possibly from practicing guitar, so right now instead of typing, I'm using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It's a great program that lets me dictate. I just say what I wanted to type, and it does – with almost no mistakes! It's pretty amazing, like something out of Star Trek. I've use the program off and on for years, but now it really works well, and I had to spend almost no time setting it up. You used to have to spend it half hour or more to get it to recognize your voice. Not anymore! I wouldn't be surprised if all future computers just come with this as standard software. People make fun of Siri and other phone type voice recognition software, but Dragon is almost perfect. If I didn't have to spend so much time watching TV or listening to music, I would just use it all of the time. I'm not sure it would work with all of that background noise. Then again, my voice would probably get tired after a while, too, just like my arms and hands. When will we have that thought recognition program?  Ha ha!

On Saturday, we went down to Waikiki and met our friends Lena and George at a restaurant called Tiki Grill, which is in the Aston Waikiki hotel. It has a great view of the beach, and the food is really good. They had a lot of gluten-free items. We had a great time visiting with our friends.

I'm still not getting to bed early… But I'll keep trying! Sigh! It seems like every time I try to go to bed early, something keeps me awake like laundry, work, allergies, the heat, or noise outside. Last night, for instance, some guy outside was screaming really loudly. I mean, it was horrible. He went on for a very long time; I came very close to calling the police. We get a lot of yelling, shouting, obscenities, singing, whistling, blowing whistles, people drumming, playing loud music, etc. Depends on the time of day, of course. During the day we also have lots of traffic noise, and construction noises, plus the window cleaners (the machines that take them up and down is pretty noisy). But even at night, we have lots of people making noise, plus the bus and the sirens. We have to have our windows open because of the heat, and the lack of air conditioning, so it's very loud. Usually I can ignore it or sleep through it, but not always.

About the construction noise - the building has been fixing up the lanais (there are drains in them that need repair, and I guess also the tiles need to be replaced), and lately they've been doing some on our side of the building, on the upper floors, so they use the same things that the window cleaners use, I guess? And also, one of our neighbors is having kitchen remodeling being done, so that's more noise.

Anyway, all of this noise is just part of living downtown.  Some of the people are drunk or crazy, whatever.  This reminds me...

I've heard several people who think that most of the homeless are crazy, or addicted, or choose to be homeless. Here are some facts for you about the poor and homeless.

In the U.S.:

15% of households are food insecure.
6% have low food security.
Households with those living near or below the federal poverty line, single parent households, black and Latino households have higher food insecurity.
44 million people live in poverty. Poverty rate is 15%. 27% for blacks, 24% for latinos.
15 million children live in poverty. Children are 24% of the population and 33% of those living in poverty.
20 million people live in extreme poverty. Their cash income is less than half of the poverty line (about $10,000 a year for a family of four).
29% disabled people are living in poverty. 3 million households have seniors 65 or older with food insecurity.
1% of the U.S. population is homeless (3 million people).
39% of the homeless are under 18, with almost half of those being under 5.
12% of the adult homeless are veterans. 25-30% of the homeless have mental illnesses (but most have no been diagnosed, since they have no health insurance).
Most homeless are not chronically homeless. Most homeless are not violent or criminals.
More than 40 percent of America's homeless population are people with disabilities.
30% of the homeless have addiction (higher for chronically homeless).
Many homeless have jobs. Many live in cars, trucks, or RV's, or in economy motels, or shelters, for short periods of time.
More than 40 percent of America’s homeless population are people with disabilities and the number appears to be rising.
Most of those who are receiving "welfare" are children, the elderly and the disabled.

In Hawaii, At least 6,300 are homeless at any given day. About 1,500 are chronically homeless.
Oahu has about 1,500 homeless. On any given day, there are only about 100-150 open beds in emergency shelters.
In Hawaii, 11% of those living without housing are children.
32% of the homeless are of Native Hawaiian ethnicity.
22% of Hawaii’s homeless have some form of employment.
In Hawaii, 14% of those homeless are veterans.
Low wages and limited affordable housing contribute to homelessness in Hawaii.
11% of Hawaii population is disabled.
More Hawaii statistics:
Child poverty rate: 17%
Senior poverty rate: 7%
Women in poverty: 11.6%
Percent of single-parent families with related children that are below poverty: 27%
Number of Asian and Pacific Islander children below 200% poverty: 37,000
Economic well-being
Poverty rate: 11.4%
Extreme poverty rate: 5%
Unemployment rate: 4.7%
Food insecurity: 12.9%
Low-income families that work: 25.8%
Minimum Wage: $7.25
Percent of jobs that are low-wage: 15.8%
Percent of individuals who are uninsured: 8%
Number of Asian and Pacific Islander children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment: 40,000
Adults and children receiving welfare (TANF): 28,783
Children receiving food stamps (SNAP): 65,000

These numbers should upset you! People like to think that the poor and homeless are all old white males or drunks, but they're not.  They come in all shapes and sizes, but the ones that are children, elderly, veterans, or disabled - that's just a disgrace to our country that we let that happen.

  1. Donate here to help the nation's homeless
  2. Donate here to help homeless kids
  3. Donate to help the poor
  4. Donate here to the Red Cross
  5. Donate to Hawaii Food Bank   
  6. Donate to help Hawaii's Homeless Kids
  7. Help Hawaii Homeless 

Or donate to your local food bank, shelters, or charities. If you already give, give more. If you don't have money, give food or clothing or other items. Homeless missions will take a lot of things that places like Goodwill won't. Offer your time. Clink on their links.  Pass this on! Do good. Stop worrying about your own problems for a while. Be grateful for what you have.

I know I complain a lot, but I'm very grateful for what I have and where I live!

Well, I hope you have a good week… I can't believe it's already October! That's another reason that I need to get our place cleaned – so that I can put my Halloween decorations again! I hope it's cooler where you are, and you're having nice weather for the Fall. It will stay hot here until December or January.

Don't forget to also check out my TV Blog! Both are updated about once a week.

I disabled the comments because of spam, but please do Contact me if you have a comment about the blog!

This page updated 3/24/17

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