LAHAINA - Kapono Gecko, the fictional character who lives in the refurbished Lahaina Library, is wondering why the columnist has not been writing much about local stuff, since the creature has not been getting around much lately. So, to keep him happy, here goes...
MERRY BUT NOT A MONARCH - A submitted Lahaina News editorial the other day on Prince Kuhio describes him as the "Merrie Monarch." He may have been merry, but he was not a monarch. King Kalakaua owns the title. The king - musical like his sister, Liliuokalani - is credited with putting hula back into an honored place in Hawaiian culture. The Merrie Monarch Festival is named after him.
ROTARY SUNRISE SHINES - The Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise that meets Tuesday mornings at the Pioneer Inn is on a roll. Unusually good speakers have been appearing the last eight Tuesdays thanks to Speaker Chair Tera Paleka. The other week, a Maui manufacturer of drones flew a sleek yellow model around the room and invited Rotarians to peek through special glasses to see what it saw. He talked about privacy issues. Others who have appeared recently include Wilmont Kahaialii and, Hawaiian culture specialist Ke'eaumoku Kapu. Wilmont learned ukulele at his father's knee the same way as his older brother, Willie K, who did a power-pointed game of "Jeopardy" with questions about things Hawaiian. Kapu covered progress at the new Na 'Aikane O Maui Cultural Center.
Maui Preparatory Academy is holding a car wash and rummage and bake sale on Saturday, April 5, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on campus. All proceeds will go toward the eighth grade class trip to California. Car wash tickets are $10.
GRASS SHACK - The Little Grass Shack has debuted along the Kaanapali beach path. The multi-talented man who annually at Christmas time rents the Sugar Cane Train and gives the underprivileged a ride has opened a photo service for visitors. Instead of the usual portraits of visitors on the beach, he poses customers amid a rich array of greenery nearby. The distinctive photos of couples in particular are impressive.
NO MORE FUNNY BANTER - Mickala Nolan, who runs the activity center at the Kannapali Beach Hotel and recently has been emceeing two hula shows a week there, has been promoted. The move forced him to drop his entertaining banter about music, hula and sometimes the weather. Most interesting quote: Mikala once told visitors that there is a hidden meaning behind a lot of hula. He said the word risqu comes to mind. Visitors would gain if the 17-year veteran of the hotel goes back on stage.
JILL'S BACK - The community-minded Jill Holley (Voices, June 14, 2012), who played a key role in raising funds for three successful Fourth of July celebrations in Lahaina, is back in town after several years in Nevada. She has joined the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii as Maui director. Holley's heart was here, so Lahaina Town can look forward to more from Jill.
JOYS - A fun project of the columnist continues to be photographing happenings almost daily on Kaanapali Beach and posting them on the Internet. The name of the site has been changed to Joys of Kaanapali to better reflect its content. You can Google it. The site includes hundreds of joyous or interesting photos and particularly appeals to visitors on the Mainland who want to keep up on things. Photos have had more than 13,000 views.
MADONNA FANS - The parents of superstar Madonna, who like to keep a low profile, were in town to get a respite from Midwestern weather. Very nice people.
WEBSITE WIZARDRY - Somewhat in the tradition of the former Up Front Lahaina column that ran in this space for many years, this is, as the anonymous columnist would say, for a topic "across the pond." The topic today is the once-disastrous affordable health care website.
Doing a little research for a friend, the columnist visited healthcare.gov to review health care options. The technical wizards brought in by the president in November have made the site easier and faster to use than the typical airline or travel site.
A question pops up; answered, in seconds, a second question box pops up, and within a few clicks, the searcher is directed to various plans available in the user's state that identify options and costs. Finally, users are asked what medical plan they have now - if any - and it "tells" the site visitor whether one of many new available affordable health care plans would be better than anything they have now.
Continuing knee jerk criticism on the site and the program based on its early failures is simply not justified. The tendency of many to automatically bash anything the president does or does not do, and the failure of Congress to pass any meaningful laws, are hurting the country.
COLUMNIST'S NOTEBOOK: As pointed out by Jon de Mello of Mountain Apple Company, the correct website for IZ (the subject of the last column) is izhawaii.com, not iz.com.