Monday, April 27, 2015

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park - still a place of refuge

We were in Hawai'i for volcanoes, sun and sand. An historic site we'd never heard of was a bit of an afterthought. Wasn't the indigenous stone-age culture, after all, largely pre-historic, even if recent by global standards? What records of the old ways could be left but for a few petroglyphs and the oral tradition? Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park wiped away my preconceptions and was one of the most educational and enjoyable excursions of our Hawai'i vacation.

Located on the southern shore of Honaunau Bay and sprawled over 420 acres, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau is a journey back into Hawaiian antiquity. The site was at once a royal grounds and a place of refuge for losers in war, civilians during wartime and breakers of kapu, or sacred laws (think "taboo"). Breaking kapu was an almost certain death sentence. The perpetrator's only chance was to evade pursuers hot on his heels and make it to the safety of a pu'uhonua (sacred place of refuge) by sea or land. Once there the penitent law-breaker was free to rejoin civil society after a ceremony of absolution performed by the kahuna pule (priest). The visiting Catholic will have a good appreciation of the place.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Picture of the Moment - The Temple of Castor and Pollux, Rome

Built to commemorate victory of the fledgling Roman Republic at the Battle of Lake Regillus (490s BC), the Temple of Castor and Pollux (It. Tempio dei Dioscuri) is located in the Forum of Rome and is one of its prominent landmarks.

The temple was a meeting place for the Roman Senate during the Republican period, and it was rebuilt several times after natural disasters, the last refitting completed in 6 AD by (eventual Emperor) Tiberius. Most of what is visible today is from that last reconstruction. The temple was a treasury building during the imperial period and the office housing the standards of weights and measures, and it had a high podium fronted by a tribunal suitable for public speaking.

Known as the Dioscuri, the gods Castor and Pollux were twin sons of Leda and Jupiter who allegedly appeared to the victors after the legendary battle. I visited here in August, 2013.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I'll Have Some of Umekes' Poke, Mon

Fancy a sashimi salad?

Poke (pronounced POH-kay) is an Hawaiian word simply meaning cut, cubed or sliced, but it's come to refer to bite-size pieces of seasoned raw fish, the Hawaiian take on ceviche. Traditional poke contains reef fish seasoned with anything the native fisherman had handy. Sea salt, limu (seaweed), roasted ground candlenut (kukui), sesame oil, chopped chili peppers, and a dash of soy sauce came to be considered the classic components.

Today, the main ingredient is likely to be meltingly-tender, cubed raw ahi tuna (yellowfin), and contemporary seasonings include avocado aioli, seeds, Maui onions, and just about anything else, reflecting the marriage of many cultures in Hawai'i. The Japanese influence is particularly strong. Poke is often served with a scoop of rice. Now, it's just as often the main dish as it is a pupu (appetizer). As for other other "peasant fare" or street food, poke is a local staple that's entered the pantheon of gourmet cuisine.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Travel Where I Will; the Red Cross Goes Where It's Needed

Hi friends. I am a new Red Cross Social Advocate.

In the Minnesota Red Cross region (where I live), and throughout the American Red Cross in the United States, local social media power supports Red Cross and celebrates the winners of its Heroes Awards. Using our social media networks, we Social Advocates share how the Northern Minnesota Region’s Heroes help others in great times of need. This work promotes the Red Cross' mission to alleviate human suffering in times of crisis, wherever it occurs.

In this travel blog space or on my Facebook page I'll occasionally share this different journey I'm on with the Red Cross. On a global level, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement leads and organizes, in close cooperation with its federated National Societies, relief assistance missions responding to large-scale disasters and everyday humanitarian need. So many parts of the world I've lived or travelled in--or wish to see someday--have benefited from its services, and therefore I have too.

Learn about the ongoing mission of the Red Cross to protect and human life and health at and find your local chapter. I travel where I will for fun and relaxation; the Red Cross goes where it's needed. Take a moment to share the stories of its heroes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Iron Man of Minnesota

The truth is... I am Iron Man.

And so are several thousand others today, and many more men in the past who worked the iron mines of northern Minnesota. And now there are also many iron women. We've moved from pick and shovel to a high-technology industry of 3D models, high-precision GPS and immense earth-movers, but the spirit is the same. Descendants of the 19th century-immigrant Finns, Italians, and eastern Europeans who fed the forges of American industry still wrest iron from the massive orebodies of the Mesabi Range. And, like the distant blast furnaces that blend the best parts of a combination of raw materials into steel, this unlikely mix of immigrants comprises the distinct culture of the "Rangers."

In the very small town of Chisholm, there is a very large tribute to this bedrock foundation of American steel.