The Letter That Brought the Internet Scandal On

From Councilman Yagong:
“…I’ll send you the email that I sent to County workers requesting suggestions to help with our County Budget and processes.
From this request, I received many suggestions from county employees, including allegations that there was Internet abuse by employees during working hours.  I was told that this abuse may be effecting productivity and could be a factor in contributing to over-time cost.  That is why I requested the Web Browsing Report from Data System to determine if the allegations were true or untrue.”
————————————————————————————————————————
March 20, 2009

Aloha County Employee,

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work and dedication to public service.  On behalf of the Hawaii County Council, I want to express our deepest appreciation for all that you do in your specific role to help serve the people of our community.

As Chairman of the Hawaii County Council Finance committee, my office is exploring many different avenues to deal with our projected shortfall.  These efforts are being made in concert and agreement with Mayor Kenoi’s stated goal of no employee layoffs to meet our budgetary challenges.  I support Mayor Kenoi in this goal, and we need your help and support to make this happen. Far too many times we do not involve the people that are on the front line that can help us improve our process and operation.

Through this letter, please consider this a sincere invitation for you to get involved in helping our County Administration and Hawaii County Council come up with suggestions and ideas that can positively impact our $31.9 million dollar shortfall.  As you know, this shortfall is a moving target and could possibly loom larger depending on actions at the state legislature as well as county numbers being adjusted at the local level.   Regardless of our fiscal climate, we should always strive for efficient and cost effective government.

As Finance Chair, I welcome you to communicate with my office through several avenues available to you.  Any idea, suggestion, comments, reporting of abuse, or plan that you feel could possibly increase revenues, decrease expenditures, increase productivity, or minimize cost is sincerely welcomed.  Please contact me at any of the following media:

County email: dyagong@co.hawaii.us

My personal email: domyagong@aol.com

Mail to my council address: Councilmember Yagong, 25 Aupuni Street, Hilo Hawaii 96727.

Mail to my personal address: Dominic Yagong, PO Box 875, Honokaa, Hawaii, 96727.

Phone:  808-961-8538 or my cell (808) 936-3412

I understand that some of you may have concerns about expressing ideas or comments regarding the department that you work for.  I will not be sharing any names associated with suggestions, unless personally directed to do so by an employee.  We are in this together, and we will meet these challenges together.

Thank you so much for allowing me to invite you to participate in working to solve our budgetary challenges.

Warmest Aloha,

Dominic Yagong, Councilmember

Internet Scandal… A Fox Watching the Hen House or Burning My Own Readership?

Earlier tonight I posted the email replies that I got from Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida and Councilman Dominic Yagong regarding the County Employee internet scandal.

I have some concerns about this investigation.

I don’t think for one second that they will be able to find evidence of people surfing on their own laptops and networks during county time, even though I know that some do.

And a big concern… Why is the Fox Watching the Hen House on this?  We should have a Private Investigator investigating this… not someone from the county.

In one of his replies to me he states:

I hate to say it Mr. Ashida…. but my blog, as well as others, can  provide more valuable resources to the counties workers then our own newspapers can provide at times.

You shouldn’t hate to say it.  It may be true.  I believe you are proceeding on a false assumption. I never said it was inappropriate to visit and review sites like yours.  In fact, as I stated in my lengthy email to Tiffany Edwards-Hunt and others upon their request, I believe it is the responsibility of County officers to understand, appreciate and be sensitive to the feelings of the public we all serve.  This includes correcting erroneous and uninformed factual assertions made in all forms of publicly available media.

A friend put it to me in an interesting way:

I think this issue could best be put to rest if the County was to have a private agency investigate this issue and provide its feedback to the public. I know cost would be an argument against having a private entity do this investigation, but it would mean much more to the public sector to have an independent ruling than to have a County employee investigate itself.

Besides, if we are talking cost effectiveness isn’t it more cost effective to have county employees engaged in their mission of providing services to us rather than having them look for reasons to read blogs during their working hours and searching for excuses to correct the public in “erroneous and uninformed factual assertions…..?”

foxinhenhouse1

Well whatever comes of this investigation, I hope the readers of my blog that were scared to view it on County time start reading it from at home… or if this thing simmers down… from at work… at least once a day. ;)

But then again… I don’t get paid by visitors… and I can’t really say that the county workers are missing anything important… Other then everything the local papers seem to forget about. ;)

The Hawaii Document Database

I just came across a pretty cool site that shows many of the Government Documents that have been uploaded to the internet, but not necessarily publicized.

The Hawaii Documents Database (you have to scroll down as the layout for this site is terrible)

State and County Documents FY09, State and County Publications received at the Center July 2008 to June 30 2009.

It’s a pretty extensive little database but I like the information that is available.

I don’t really have time to sort through everything right now and I’ve gotten myself into enough trouble for the time being… but if anyone wanted to start going through some of those documents, I’m sure we could make a few people squirm by doing so.

Hawaii Volcano “Drainhole Piston”

Aerosols smaller than 1 micrometer are mostly formed by condensation processes such as conversion of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas (released from volcanic eruptions) to sulfate particles and by formation of soot and smoke during burning processes. After formation, the aerosols are mixed and transported by atmospheric motions and are primarily removed by cloud and precipitation processes. Video courtesy of United States Geological Survey. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK-HWOIP6Gs&hl=en&fs=1]

$1 Million to SSFM for Highway 130

So as many of you may know, last night I asked SSFM how much were they given for their contract in working on this Highway 130 Project that I’ve been working with a group of community members with since October of last year.

I was quoted in today’s paper:

…Not all members of the advisory group were on the same page. Damon Tucker, representing the Friends of Puna’s Future, asked about the state’s $1 million contract to SSFM International.

“I feel like the KPAG group members were used by the state to help pass a project that was planned long before I became a member,” Tucker said…”

Just for clarification purposes, the bold paragraph I left as a comment with Reporter Peter Sur knowing that it may… or may not get printed in the paper.  I didn’t say that in front of everyone… BUT IT IS HOW I FEEL!

SSFM I feel got a Million bucks to basically smooth things over between the community and State Representatives and put together a few presentations along the way.

It was funny that Cheryl Soon of SSFM came up to me before the presentation to  say… “You know Damon… I just want you to know that SSFM paid for the food and not the State”

Ms. Cheryl Soon is a senior planner with extensive national and Hawaii experience in both public and private sectors. She currently serves as the Director of SSFM’s Planning Group and is responsible for all planning projects.

Cheryl Soon, Director of SSFM’s Planning Group and is responsible for all planning projects.

Geez Cheryl… you just don’t get it?  SSFM paid for the food with the $1 Million dollars of tax funded money you guys got for this project.

Would have been nice if the food would have been up to par with the contract! ;)

It must be nice to get these nice big contracts and just have things fly under the table without even really informing people of things.

Even Hunter Bishop informed me at last nights meeting that he was surprised about some recent turn of events that he was notified earlier in the day about (the shoulder project that will be going in front of Keaau High School). (*Update* See Comment Below from Mr. Bishop… I don’t want this to sound as though Hunter has the same sentiments as mine towards the project)

Dr. James Weatherford actually left the meeting he was so disgusted with what was going on with the project.

On his way out I heard him say “I need to get out of here before I get myself in trouble” or something to that effect… Then he passed the bucket to me so to speak and said… “I’ll let you get in trouble” jokingly with me.

Of course… I’m always getting in trouble so it’s nothing new for me.

Conflicting Emails From Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida and Councilman Yagong

Yesterday I fired off two emails regarding the County Employee Internet Scandal that is under way.

It appears there seems to be some conflict between what is allowed to be browsed and what isn’t allowed to be browsed on County time.

Lincoln Ashida says browsing blogs on county time is ok… but Councilman Yagong doesn’t think so.

1st email to Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida – his responses are in red and have not been altered in any way:
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I have a couple questions regarding this Internet “Scandal” that is going on.

1. Do you consider visiting blogs on county time Internet Abuse? No.
2. Do you consider responding to newspaper articles in the comment section Internet Abuse? No.
3. What do you think the punishment should be for violators the above if they were found to be visiting sites deemed not appropriate to county business? Not applicable, since in my opinion it is not “internet abuse.”

In the April 29th Hawaii Tribune you stated:

“The investigation has focused on whether employees accessed inappropriate sites, conducted illegal activities while working or simply spent too much time surfing the Web, Ashida said.”

My question then… How will you separate employees who surfed on County time on their own personal laptops and wireless providers during county work time? This is one of the challenges we face, and why our Department of Data Systems requires the time to carefully examine the records to make this determination the best they can.  We will be fair to both the employees under our charge and the public we serve; this is why it is critical only accurate and credible information be released to the public.  This is what the public demands and would expect.

Do these county employees get a “pass” on this whole investigation simply because they have their own laptops and internet providers? No.  Given your assumption that there are County employees who are internet surfing on their own laptops and with their own ISP during County time, that would still violate the spirit of our policy if the use is more than infrequent and they are visiting inappropriate sites.

Punishing one employee for surfing the web on county time only because you can find out about their use and allowing others to simply slide because you can not bust them seems a bit unfair to me.

I look forward to hearing your response… (and it will be posted on my blog if you choose to respond)

Thanks to this investigation… the number of visits to my blog has tumbled and I provide more information then something like what you addressed in the newspaper.

“The Internet should not be used for non-county purposes,” Ashida said. “However, the policy (that employees sign) does recognize there might be some times when the use would be permitted.” For example, an employee could research product recalls or to learn about swine flu outbreaks, he said.”

I hate to say it Mr. Ashida…. but my blog, as well as others, can  provide more valuable resources to the counties workers then our own newspapers can provide at times. You shouldn’t hate to say it.  It may be true.  I believe you are proceeding on a false assumption. I never said it was inappropriate to visit and review sites like yours.  In fact, as I stated in my lengthy email to Tiffany Edwards-Hunt and others upon their request, I believe it is the responsibility of County officers to understand, appreciate and be sensitive to the feelings of the public we all serve.  This includes correcting erroneous and uninformed factual assertions made in all forms of publicly available media.

I look forward to your reply,

Damon Tucker

—————-

So I find it interesting that Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida says it is ok to browse blogs, however in the following email received from Councilmember Yagong… he says it should be done at home:

——————

Aloha Councilman Yagong,

I have a couple questions regarding this Internet “Scandal” that is going on.

1. What event led you to wanting to ask of this investigation?
2. Do you consider visiting blogs on county time Internet Abuse?
3. Do you consider responding to newspaper articles in the comment section Internet Abuse?
4. What do you think the punishment should be for violators of #2 or #3 if they were found to be visiting sites deemed not appropriate to county business?

Thank you for making this inquiry…. Although the number of Blog Hits has tumbled because of this.

I look forward to your reply,

YAGONG’s Response:

Aloha Damon,
Thanks for your inquiry.  In regards to your questions:
1.  I’ll send you the email that I sent to County workers requesting suggestions to help with our County Budget and processes.
From this request, I received many suggestions from county employees, including allegations that there was Internet abuse by employees during working hours.  I was told that this abuse may be effecting productivity and could be a factor in contributing to over-time cost.  That is why I requested the Web Browsing Report from Data System to determine if the allegations were true or untrue.
2.  From a tax payers point of view, I would hope that the County employee sitting behind a desk has enough designated departmental work that he or she would have little time to read newspaper accounts or blogs during scheduled working hours.  With that said, I personally have no problem if this is done during the employees break time.  I would not consider that Internet abuse.
3.  If responding in comment section is done during an employee break time, I would not consider that abuse.  I truly believe that it is management responsibility to have clear guidelines, and in my opinion, except for employee breaks, it should not be allowed during scheduled working hours.  If employees want to respond or participate in blog discussions, they have that choice or opportunity at home.
4.  I have no control over disciplinary action.  That is left up to collective bargaining agreements made between the Unions and Management regarding Counseling/Suspension/ and or Termination.   For non-union employees, I have faith that the administration will treat everyone fairly and consistently as they would union employees if disciplinary action is deemed necessary.
Damon, I’m sorry about your hits tumbling due to my requesting the Web Browsing Report (which I have yet to see), however, if employees enjoy reading and responding to your site during county business hours…they can still do the same on their own personal time.
Thanks Damon. Much Aloha –  Dom

X-1 World Championship in Kona May 9th

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1MjuYpAQ18&hl=en&fs=1]

UH Researchers: Second Born Kids More Rebellious

A new research has confirmed what many parents long suspected: Second-born kids are more likely to be rebellious in later life than their more conservative older siblings…

…To reach the conclusion, researchers at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Purdue University interviewed 364 children in the United States between the ages of seven and 19 and their parents…

More Here

BREAKING NEWS: This Blogger suddenly decided to skip number 2 and have number 3 when the time comes!

Dear Lincoln Ashida… The Hawaii County Internet Scandal?

I sent the following email off to Hawaii Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida this evening…

He seems to be very open and has responded to most of the Bloggers that have inquired about this investigation.  His most recent reply looks like it was over at Poinography.

So I figure while us “Bloggers” have his attention, I’d toss him a bone to chew on:

…I have a couple questions regarding this Internet “Scandal” that is going on.

1. Do you consider visiting blogs on county time Internet Abuse?
2. Do you consider responding to newspaper articles in the comment section Internet Abuse?
3. What do you think the punishment should be for violators of the above if they were found to be visiting sites deemed not appropriate to county business?

In the April 29th Hawaii Tribune you stated:

…The investigation has focused on whether employees accessed inappropriate sites, conducted illegal activities while working or simply spent too much time surfing the Web, Ashida said…”

4. My question then… How will you separate employees who surfed on County time on their own personal laptops and wireless providers during county work time?

5. Do these county employees get a “pass” on this whole investigation simply because they have their own laptops and internet providers?

Punishing one employee for surfing the web on county time only because you can find out about their use and allowing others to simply slide because you can not bust them seems a bit unfair to me.

I look forward to hearing your response… (and it will be posted on my blog if you choose to respond)

Thanks to this investigation… the number of visits to my blog has tumbled and I provide more information then something like what you addressed in the newspaper.

“…The Internet should not be used for non-county purposes,” Ashida said. “However, the policy (that employees sign) does recognize there might be some times when the use would be permitted.” For example, an employee could research product recalls or to learn about swine flu outbreaks, he said…”

I hate to say it Mr. Ashida… but my blog, as well as others, can  provide more valuable resources to the counties workers then our own newspapers can provide at times.

I look forward to your reply,

Damon Tucker

(just realized I forgot to number 4 and 5 on the email… hope he answers all 5 questions)

*Updated Video Working* Brief History of Water Rights in Hawaii

Earth Justice attorney Issac Muriwake gives a summary of the last 150 years of Water Law in Hawaii. An eye-opening, informative video captured on Earth Day at a film screening of “The Water Front”, held at Mau Community College and sponsored by Maui Tomorrow Foundation.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eEU2qSke7w&hl=en&fs=1]

Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp Coming to Honolulu

Imagine it’s 1977, you’re on tour with Led Zeppelin, and you’ve just arrived for a week stint in Hawaii. You’re escorted through the airport by private security, through the throngs of fans just waiting to get a glimpse, into your black stretch limousine. You check into a luxury hotel and head straight to your suite where John Bonham not unexpectedly throws the television from the hotel balcony. Your band manager comes by to tell you Bowie is in town at the studio, and wants you to drop in and lay down some tracks. You stop down at the pool-side bar first for a mid-afternoon Mai Tai where the atmosphere is electric and the bikini-clad girls are plentiful. Rod Stewart is there with his ex-bandmate Ronnie Wood, and you can’t help but think to yourself how cool The Faces were. Imagine the glory days of Rock & Roll, the music that defined a generation, and the artists who changed our world. THAT’S The Rock & Roll Experience.

rockexperience

From October 7 through October 11, the Experience will offer a fantasy camp in Honolulu, Hawaii, featuring songwriting workshops, rock lessons, and jam sessions. At the camp, all attendees will hone their performing and writing talents in preparation to open the stage at the Pipeline Café on the final night for an unannounced “legendary headlining band.” In addition, attendees will live the dream of a rock star with a manager, roadies, and techs at their disposal, luxury hotel accommodations, personal concierge service, spa treatments, and a professional music photographer on hand to capture all the glory. Living the life of a rock star is an expensive venture, however, since the cost of attendance is almost eight thousand dollars.

Aiding in the experience will be members of legendary rock bands such as the Sex Pistols (Glen Matlock), Devo (Gerald Casale), the Beach Boys (Al Jardine), Tommy Petty and the Heartbreakers (Steve Ferrone), Blondie (Clem Burke) and the MC5 (Wayne Kramer), as well as Earl Slick, guitarist for David Bowie.

About the Rock and Roll Experience, co-founder Zak Einstein said, “People will get to live their rock and roll dreams, play music with rock legends, and be treated like celebrities themselves” all the while “eating, drinking, and jamming with our celebrity artists.”

Individuals interested in making their rock dreams a reality can get additional details at rockandrollexperience.com

UH Hilo Joins Semester at Sea Program

A new cooperative relationship between the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) will enable students attending UH Hilo to traverse the globe and obtain an international learning experience with the Semester at Sea program.

Qualified UH Hilo students will receive a generous scholarship from the Semester at Sea program that enables them to visit between 10 – 11 countries per voyage. Students receiving federal financial aid are able to use those funds to pay for the difference in the program as well as the cost of travel to and from the port of origin, books, student visas, and other personal expenses.

UH Hilo and ISE plan to annually award 10 scholarships over a course of five years. This five-year agreement was signed aboard the MV Explorer on Monday, April 20th, during its visit to O`ahu by ISE/SAS President Les McCabe and Chancellor Rose Tseng.

“We’re thrilled to have an affiliation agreement,” said McCabe. “We’re diversifying our student body around the world and the opportunity to have students from this university fits perfectly with where we are trying to bring the program.”

Interested students should apply through UH Hilo’s Center for Global Education and Exchange. Dr. Keith Miser, executive director of the Center said, “This is a very special occasion for the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo. We have been in conversation for a long time, where we could help Semester at Sea with its goal of enhancing diversity while at the same time creating opportunities for low income, first-generation, and diverse students to participate in such an exciting experience.”

“This is great for our students and for our global initiatives,” Tseng added. “Even though we’re a very diverse school, many of our students don’t have the opportunity to see the rest of the world.”

The "MV Explorer"

The "MV Explorer"

The Fall 2009 voyage will bring the MV Explorer to dock in Hilo after 13 years. This will be the 100th voyage of the Semester at Sea program. Interested students should contact Carolina Lam, director of Global Education at UH Hilo, at (808) 933-8809.

H-130 Pictures Used for Highway Improvement Project

Here are the pictures that were submitted by the members of the Highway 130 Advisory Group.

The pictures and comments that I submitted are on pages 13-15.

In these other galleries that were just uploaded, you can view the meetings that took place.

Why they uploaded these pictures?  I have no idea other then to put some “targets on our backs” for the public to point the finger at and say “These are the guys that fucked up the Highway!”

I wonder why they didn’t take any pictures of the food they spent on the meetings? ;)

Peak Hours on H-130 Answered… Do We Really Need to Spend $56 Million on this Highway? Public Information Meetings on Highway 130 Begin Tomorrow

I asked what exactly the “Peak Hours” of congestion on Highway 130 were that was studied during the Highway 130 KPAG meetings that I was involved with.

I finally received an answer to this question that we are basing this $56 million dollar project on…

Roger Dyar, Consulting Traffic Engineer, has responded to your question regarding the peak hour used in Level of Service. The peak hours studied in the report are 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. This information will be incorporated into the KPAG Meeting #6 Summary.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Mahalo-

Heather Forester, Planner – www.ssfm.com

I find it pretty funny that I’m getting this information less then 24 hours before the first official public meeting on this project is to take place.

I know myself driving from 7:30 – 8:00 in the morning from the end of Pahoa Town to Keaau that the traffic is not that bad and most of the traffic has made it into town already.

And in the evening… the problems run much later then 5:15.

Less yet, these estimates were done at a time (2002 – 7 years ago) when our growth patterns here in Puna were shooting off the charts. With the economy going the way it is… I don’t see near as many people moving to Puna in the next 30 years as originally expected.

Do we really need to spend $56 Million Dollars on a new Highway? It’s not to late to say no.

It’s a 30 year project… In thirty years who knows what the problems will be on the Big Island?

Reminder: The first of two public information meetings will be held tomorrow at Pahoa High and Intermediate School at 5:30.

———————————————————————————–

Table 2: Estimated Average Daily Traffic Along Keaau-Pahoa Road

From – To: 2002—-2018—-2028—-2038 (Year)

Keaau Bypass Opukahaia Street 21,300 31,900 41,000 52,700

Opukahaia Street Transfer Station 20,400 30,700 39,600 51,100

Transfer Station Shower Drive 22,100 31,500 39,300 49,100

Shower Drive Pohaku Place 16,700 24,400 30,900 39,100

Pohaku Place Kaloli Drive 16,700 24,300 30,800 39,000

Kaloli Drive Pohaku Circle 16,700 22,800 27,700 33,700

Pohaku Circle Orchidland Drive 13,800 20,500 26,200 33,600

Orchidland Drive Paradise Drive 13,800 20,300 25,800 32,800

Paradise Drive Aulii Street 12,100 17,500 21,900 27,600

Aulii Street Makuu Drive 12,100 17,400 21,900 27,500

Makuu Drive Ilima Street 12,100 16,000 19,100 22,800

Ilima Street Ainaloa Boulevard 12,100 16,000 19,100 22,800

Ainaloa Boulevard Ka Ohuwalu Drive 11,700 15,600 18,700 22,400

Ka Ohuwalu Drive Kaluahine Place 11,700 15,800 19,100 23,100

Kaluahine Place Old Pahoa Road 6,000 11,000 16,100 23,600

Old Pahoa Road Kahakai Boulevard 4,200 7,400 10,600 15,200

Kahakai Boulevard Nanawale Homestead Road 4,000 6,200 8,200 10,800

Nanawale Homestead Road Unnamed Road 4,000 6,000 7,800 10,100

Unnamed Road Pahoa-Kapoho Road 6,600 7,900 8,900 10,000

Pahoa-Kapoho Road Leilani Estates 4,700 6,800 8,500 10,700

RJ’s Looking For Tires… Lex Brodie’s Robert Porter of Hilo Added as ITDG Shareholder

Here’s your answer to your question Mr. Mendoza…

TEQUESTA, Fla. (April 28th, 2009) — The Independent Tire Dealers Group (ITDG) L.L.C. achieved record gross sales in 2008 of about $100.6 million and gross profits of $3.4 million.

ITDG said the results mark the sixth consecutive year of posting record sales and profits. In 2007, gross sales were $96.4 million and gross profits totaled $3.39 million.

Michael Cox, ITDG president and CEO, said the marketing group anticipates first quarter results to finish at a similar level with last year’s first quarter, but he didn’t disclose those results.

ITDG also added three shareholders, bringing the group’s total number of shareholders to 63. They are: Ronnie Ward of Monroe, Ga.-based Ronnie Ward Tire Co. Inc.; Tony Guldalian of Monterey Park, Calif.-based Grand Prix Tire & Auto Center; and Robert Porter of Hilo, Hawaii-based Hawaii Tire Co. L.L.C./Lex Brodie.

“We would like to thank all the manufacturers, vendors and distributors that have supported our organization throughout these remarkable growth years,” Mr. Cox said in a press release. “We are excited about the continued growth in the years ahead.”

ITDG has 115 members representing more than 300 tire and service center locations in 16 states.

Yes… Lex Brodies is where I have always gotten my tires from since moving to Hawaii.

Equal Opportunities for Women: Mazie Hirono in Support of The Paycheck Fairness Act

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) speaks on the House Floor in support of two critical bills that would help end the discriminatory practice of paying men and women different wages for performing the same job — HR 11; The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and The Paycheck Fairness Act.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv5WJmFSDnw&hl=en&fs=1]

Got Snow Tires?

No folks… I wasn’t even close to being up on top of Mauna Kea when I came across the following sign today:

driveby-004

I was driving some weird old roads today.

I came across the following bridge and I was wondering if I should cross it in my car.

I mean… were the barricades stopping cars from going over the bridge before I got there?

I had no idea…  I got out of my car and visually inspected the bridge.  I could see that fresh tire tracks had gone over it… so I pushed my luck and crossed the buggah.

driveby-005

If for some reason I quit blogging more then a day or two… can someone please send someone out to the cane fields to rescue me?

I Do Not Have Swine Flu!

Hat tip to Leslie Lang for the following article she noticed:

The first confirmed death from the recent swine flu epidemic in Mexico, Maria Adela Gutierrez (English translation), worked as a door-to-door census taker for the tax board according to Mexican officials. She is not the original source of the infection, according to this article in the LA Times, but some local news reports indicated that she had infected as many as 20 people, as well as her husband and children. Martin Vazquez Villaneuva, the regional health secretary in Oaxaca, has denied these reports, according to the LA Times article.

Hawaii is the US Hotspot for the Flu

With the world on swine flu watch, a number of online maps are tracking the spread of the disease. The Google Maps Mania blog rounds up some of the best and most creative efforts.

One of the earliest is this user-generated Google map by “Niman”, which plots suspected,  confirmed or probable, and negative incidences (click image below to see full-screen, real-time version).

Niman\'s N1H1 Google map (grab taken 28 April)

This HealthMap displays the latest information on its swine flu map with markers co-ordinated according to the “heat” – encompassing recentness and size – of the outbreak.

The map pulls in information from a number of sources, including news reports and official alerts, and therefore markers may not necessarily represent a confirmed outbreak – worth clicking through the links before you panic.  See also the general HealthMap for info on swine flu plus a variety of other diseases.

Google also maps flu trends in the USA – based on where people are searching for flu-related terms. The reasoning goes that, if people feel ill, they tend to head for the internet for advice.

The search company reckons its data both corresponds with official tracking methods, and can scoop them by a fortnight, as it updates more quickly. At time of writing, Google trends suggests tropical Hawaii is the US-flu hotspot – something which has yet to translate into a rash of swine flu cases. The official Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website has official data on US swine flu cases – worth reading in conjunction with user-generated content for the most rounded picture.

12 Year Old Opera Singer From Pahoa: Rosalinde Rivera

Susan Boyle… were you this good or cute at 12?

Introducing 12 year old Pahoa Opera Singer Rosalinde Rivera (AKA Operababe96):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rvrE2nOeiQ&hl=en&fs=1]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEsbn6kqTmo&hl=en&fs=1]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joTbL0a3850&hl=en&fs=1]

You can follow Rosalinde on her youtube page here