Archive for February, 2010

Tsunami and the power of Twitter

February 27th, 2010
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It's 10 p.m. and I'm still awake. I've been up since 3:30 a.m., when, for whatever reason, I got out of bed and checked my cell phone.

Six text messages, two from my mom, letting me know about a tsunami warning for the Hawaiian Islands.

Little did I know that once I logged onto Twitter (@thedailydish) this would turn into a social networking media event!

People from all over the state were posting photos of long lines at gas stations and grocery stations. TV news — which, by the day, did a stellar job reporting on the tsunami commercial-free for hours — starting broadcasting these cell phone snapshots and reporting what was being chatted about on Twitter.

We — everyone up and about, posting tweets, asking questions, sharing photos — had become a primary source of news and information. What a shift in journalism!

In just a few hours, I added hundreds of new followers to my Twitter feed, all interested in updates on the tsunami, which was generated by a 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile early Saturday morning. The first wave was supposed to hit just after 11 a.m. — it was about 45 minutes late — with city and state officials genuinely concerned about potential catastrophic effects.

By 9 a.m. I had been locked out of Twitter — which said I had posted my limit of 1,000 tweets. If you can believe that? After a petition from fellow Twitterers — and a few e-mails to key people — I was released from Twitter Jail and allowed to post again. (I got locked out a few hours later but was quickly released.)

Everything I needed to know about the tsunami I got from Twitter. (Facebook helped, too, especially when my Twitter site went down.) People were posting updates on everything from when Costco opened to which stations were out of gas. Everyone was a journalist yesterday — and it was awesome!

What surprised me most with the whole tsunami event was how calm everyone remained. Even at Safeway at 4 a.m., with just two lines open at first, people were polite and patient. No shoving or frenzied panicking.

And just as President Obama told folks to do, we all followed the instructions of our city and state officials. Streets were empty, beaches were vacated, people living in low-lying areas got out. It was the most civilized natural disaster I've ever seen.

Props need to go to everyone at O'ahu Civil Defense and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (@tsunamiwatch), who worked overnight to give residents the most updated information in a timely and calm manner.

Applause to the local media, who broadcast, reported, wrote and Twittered every detail of the tsunami. (@HonAdv was also locked out of Twitter for posting too much.) I mean, Andrew Pereira of KHON (@KHONnews) got Mayor Mufi Hannemann on the phone! That's good stuff!

In all, I'm glad it's over and everyone's safe. Like Dr. Gerald Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, this was the perfect tsunami. You could see something happen — water levels rose and fell — but nothing major happened. No damage, no injuries, nothing. But it was cool to watch.

Thanks for tuning in!

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Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@thecatdish.com.

Tsunami: be safe

February 27th, 2010
By



For whatever reason I got up at around 3 a.m. and checked my phone.

Six text messages — at least two from my mom — letting me know there was a tsunami warning in effect after a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early this morning. At least 78 people were killed.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for the state, saying that sea level might rise by two meters (or six feet). The tsunami might cause substantial damage to coastline areas.

The first wave is expected to hit the Big Island at 11 a.m. The event, said acting mayor Kirk Caldwell, could last several hours.

The city has closed all beach parks, municipal golf courses and the Honolulu Zoo. Hilo Airport will shut down, too. (Rainbow Drive-In, though, is open.)

My mom figured I'd be up at around 4 a.m. to surf — I usually am — and thought she would warn me before I headed to the beach.

I'm glad she did.

As soon as I read her texts, I woke up my boyfriend and we headed down to Safeway in Hawai'i Kai. It was packed.

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Outside Safeway in Hawai'i Kai at around 4 a.m.

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The parking lot was filling up fast.

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People were stocking up on essentials like bottled water and batteries.

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Bottled water was running low at a lot of grocery stores.

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The lines were long, but people were patient.

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Here's what we got.

I'm worried. The last time we had a tsunami warning, nothing much happened on O'ahu — and I think people may remember that and aren't worried that this may be destructive.

But we should. We should be concerned. We shouldn't panic — but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is saying there will definitely be some kind of wave activity, flooding and property damage.

"We need to take this one very seriously," said PTWC's Charles McCreary.

Be safe out there. And be courteous to others. This is one of those times we need to help each other out.

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Pets are not allowed in evacuation centers. Have a plan for your pets!

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Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@thecatdish.com.

FUUD: Ojiya Hawaii in Kapi'olani

February 26th, 2010
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Sometimes all I want is rice. Preferably doused in shoyu and grilled over an open flame.

So I head to the nearest izakaya (Japanese-style tavern), with my go-to spots being Tokkuri-Tei and Izakaya Nonbei.

But the other night, we tried a fairly new spot in town: Ojiya, a hopping little restaurant on Kapi'olani Boulevard near the Hawai'i Convention Center.

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Ojiya occupies the space vacated by XOXO on Kapi'olani near Atkinson.

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Even on a weekday night, the restaurant was filled with patrons. No reservations are necessary.

The restaurant specializes in food from the Niigata prefecture (新潟県,), located on the island of Honshū. The popular dish here: Niigata-style soba, flown in from Japan.

And the only thing I didn't eat.

I came for the Tokyo fad food — and I was going to get it.

Here's what we ate:

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The gobo chips ($4.80) are a must if you're drinking beer. Trust me. You don't want to miss these fried burdock root chips, which are only served during dinner.

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I like to start most of my dinners with a salad. This Ojiya Salad ($5.80) is topped with the restaurant's special house dressing. Makes me feel less guilty for scarfing all those gobo chips.

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D got really excited when he saw this musubi ($2.50) on the menu. It's filled with cod roe.

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As if the gobo chips weren't enough, I got suckered — by the great menu description — into ordering the fried potatoes with seaweed garlic ($4.80), another great accompaniment to beer.

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I'm a big fan of agedashi tofu ($5.80). It's hard not to like fried blocks of battered tofu in a shoyu-based sauce soup.

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D had never tried hamachi kama, so I ordered it — and he ate the entire thing. (No sharing!) This is the collar of the yellowtail tuna. It's rich and oily — and great with that musubi.

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The restaurant serves buta — or pork — in a variety of ways. This is pork belly skewered.

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You can also get simmered pork belly in a sweet soy sauce ($8.80).

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We tried the chicken skewers ($1.80 each). Our recommendation: get it with sauce. The salt version is lacking.

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This, I really enjoyed: skewers of asparagus wrapped in bacon ($1.80 each). How can you go wrong with that combination?

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Finally! What I came for! Yaki onigiri ($2.50 each). I could eat this every day.

Ojiya is a great stop on your search for izakaya fare. If you've got friends in town or need to grab a quick beer after work — hey, you didn't get a Furlough Friday this week! — head here, order a cold beer and nosh on some salty snacks. You'll feel great tonight but sick tomorrow. And it'll be worth it.

Ojiya Hawaii, 1718 Kapi'olani Blvd. Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; dinner, 5-11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday, closed Mondays. Phone: 942-3838.

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Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@thecatdish.com.

A one-newspaper town?

February 25th, 2010
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I'm still in shock from the news.

Today Gannett Co. announced it reached an agreement to sell The Honolulu Advertiser, the state's largest daily newspaper, to Oahu Publications Inc. (OPI), which owns and operates rival newspaper the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. (Read the entire press release here.)

The sale is expected to close by the summer.

OPI will acquire the newspaper and all related assets including the Web site — meaning, these blogs, too! — and non-daily publications. Gannett will maintain ownership of the building at 605 Kapi'olani Blvd., which is will likely put up for sale.

"We have been very pleased and proud to be part of the Hawaii journalism community all these years but felt OPI's offer to buy The Advertiser and its related assets was the right course for Gannett at this time," said Bob Dickey, president of Gannett's U.S. Community Publishing in a statement. "We greatly appreciate all of the hard work and contributions our employees have made and know that they will continue to do a terrific job serving this market in the years to come."

To which David Black, chairman of OPI responded: "We are pleased to be able to purchase The Advertiser, a strong and excellent newspaper. We will endeavor to continue the tradition of good Hawaiian newspaper stewardship as exemplified in modern times by Twigg Smith and Gannett."

It's likely, then, that OPI won't want to operate two daily newspapers; that's not the most cost-effective business model.

Instead, it will likely merge the two, making Honolulu a one-newspaper town — something it hasn't been in more than 100 years.

With that, newsrooms will merge, too. And like what happened with KGMB and KHNL merged, journalists and other employees may find themselves out of jobs.

This is tragic.

As someone who's worked at both publications — and who grew up reading both, too — I can't fully expressed how deeply saddened I am to realize that one of these newspapers may cease to exist. I can't imagine this state without both The Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, both working to provide accurate, original and competing content to the people who live here and read online.

Most of us in journalism wondered if — or when — this day would come, realizing that Honolulu is too small a market to sustain two daily newspapers. But we understood the importance of having two distinct and diverse voices in the community. The competition is important. It keeps journalists accountable and enthusiastic about getting the news out accurately and faster than their competitor.

The whole business of newspapers has been perplexing to me. Readership is down, circulation is down, revenue is down. Yet, people need and want the news. They want it fast, they want it right, they want it now. So both publications have built up a loyal following and, of course, credibility so readers still come to trust them as news sources online. Except that doesn't pay the bills.

I wonder why people don't read the newspaper anymore. I ask my students that every semester. They point at the fact that newspapers deliver yesterday's news; they can get more updated information online. They don't like the bulkiest of newspaper, how inconvenient they are to lug around. They don't like getting their fingers stained with newsprint.

The list goes on.

But to me, I still like to hold the tangible product, to flip through the pages and read. But, like my students, I wouldn't turn to a hard-copy newspaper to get the most current news. I go online, where the news is current — and free.

So what's your reaction to the news about the acquisition? And how do you feel about the newspaper industry in general? Think there'll be newspapers, say, 10 years from now?

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Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@thecatdish.com.

Great way to combat eavesdroppers

February 25th, 2010
By



Last Wednesday Dr. Dish discussed how to deal with nosy coworkers.

Here's a great way to combat eavesdroppers. It's hilarious.


How Tom Mabe handles people listening to his public cell phone conversations.

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Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@thecatdish.com.