March 2008 Log

A photo diary of life in Hilo Hawaii






Today is the first day of Merrie Monarch, the main event of the day being the Music Festival at the Hilo Civic auditorium. We went and found plenty of parking, happy people, great music and wonderful demonstrations of hula from large Hula schools. Here are some pictures of the colorful event. There are more pictures here.

Hilo Hawaii Hula 2008

Hula Hilo Hawaii 2008

Hula Kids Hilo Hawaii

Hula Hilo Hawaii

Hula Hilo Hawaii 2008

Hula Hilo Hawaii 2008

Hula Hilo Hawaii 2008 Hilo Hawaii Hula 2008

We returned to the show in the afternoon and took more pictures.

2008 Merrie Monarch Tshirts

You can see photos and videos we took here.


We added a page with a Merrie Monarch event calendar of events for next week in Hilo. We hope to attend all the free events. Parking may be a challenge, but what fun it will be. We will post pictures of the events we attend as we take them.

We created a new page about the Observatories and Telescopes covering Astronomy in Hilo. There is so much going in Hilo in Astronomy and so many opportunities for anyone interested in the cosmos. There are a lot of other scientific labs in Hilo as well concentrating on volcanology, plant life, agriculture, bugs, etc.


Hawaii State Bill SB2829 proposes to repeal critical tax exemtpions and credits before they are reveiwed by the Hawaii Department of Taxation. This bill would undo the tax benefits the State of Hawaii has created to entice startups and to draw businesses to Hawaii and hurt many emerging sectors including renewable energy, TV and digital media, ethanol facilities, and scientific research contracts. There are broader economic impacts of this bill removing general excise tax exemptions for public service companies, public utilities, nonprofits, hospitals, senior housing facilities, churches, schools, and homeless shelters. The bill will be heard by the HOUSE Finance Committee on Thursday, March 27, 2008.

If you want to keep up with bills like this impacting entrepreneurs and businesses in Hawaii, join the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA).


Hilo is gearing up for next week's Grand Hula competition and festival. The fun starts on Sunday, March 30 and goes non-stop to the following Saturday April 5. The events will be televised live on KITV. We plan to attend as many of the events as possible.

Merrie Monarch Festival sign Hilo Hawaii


A small explosion of ash from the Halema'uma'u Crater on top of Kilauea this morning (Monday, Mar 24) is being reported by KGMB channel 9. USGS reported some small incandescent particles erupted from the crater overnight.

Earthquakes on the Big Island are increasing again and seem to be spreading to Mauna Loa as well as Mauna Kea. Having earthquakes under the highly sensitive telescopes would be very disruptive to the astronomers.

Sulfur dioxide emission rates continue to elevate causing major problems to those with respiratory issues. Kona and Waimea are getting the brunt of the emissions, but SO2 is elevated everywhere. The Kona web forum has the most discussion and information about how the emissions (or Vog) are impacting them since the news is not covering the volcano and the county and state thus far seem unwilling to discuss the health effects and how the public should protect themselves. The only solution being given is to stay indoors and use AC. Most of us don't have AC and with a 15% surtax on electricity being added for each KWH by HELCO, running an AC 7x24 is a highly impractical solution for a problem that is not soon going away. The sulfur dioxide emmissions will likely increase and be combined with caustic ash. One of the KonaWebbers calculated that the current daily output of 2000 tons of Sulfur Dioxide from the vents on Kilauea are equivalent to the output of 50 coal plants. We are preparing ourselves by storing lots of water and getting face masks and air filters to protect ourselves from health impacts. Everyone should decide what to take and what route they will go if they have to evacuate.

The best coverage on the volcano's status is the live panaramic view of the emissions from Halema'uma'u Crater at this newly set up USGS Crater CAM. The amount of output lwas huge today compared to the past couple of days. If it starts to glow at night, a lava fireworks show may soon follow.


It was a glorious Easter today. The weather was beautiful with cool breezes and sunlight mixed with refreshing rain. In the morning the church bells were sounding. We walked through Liliuokalani park filled with families gathered together having picnics and enjoying the day.

Easter in the Park in Hilo

Easter in Hilo


We just returned from Los Angeles, and while there we compared their price of gas to the prices in Hilo.

Their prices (near LAX - with gas stations practically direct connected to their local refineries) are $3.51 for regular and $3.71 for super.
LA gas prices

Hilo's price (out in the middle of nowhere) is $3.60 for regular and $3.80 for super. We found $3.59 for regular a few stations down the street. It is amazing that the only surcharge for 2 days shipping across the Pacific is 9 cents/gallon.
LA gas prices


HELCO appointed a new president this month, Jay Igancio, due to the retirement of Warren Lee. One of Lee's greatest contributions is the promotion of alternative energy, so that HELCO has become one of the leading utilities in the US using renewable resources. In 2007, 30% of HELCOs Big Island electric energy supply came from renewable energy sources.

Hopefully, most of this renewable energy is solar. The sustainability of the Big Island and all of Hawaii is dependent on the islands weaning off of oil. Then HELCO will primarily be in the business of distribution and transmission of electricity generated on the roofs of houses and businesses.

We also need innovation and solar know-how locally in Hawaii. The Financial Executives International Hawaii chapter picked Hoku Scientific for its 2007-2008 Deal of the Year award. The award honors business deals in Hawaii that use a creative business strategy and support and improve the local economy. Hoku Scientific was selected for its launch of its new Hawaii-focused solar energy business Hoku Solar, which manufactures polysilicon and provides installations of solar electric systems for Hawaii companies.


An explosion from Kilauea's Halemaumau crater today blasted rocks over 75 acres covering part of Crater Rim Drive and a crater lookout area in Volcanoes National park. The lava flows attracting a record number of visitors to Hilo and Puna are coming from the side of the volcano, not the main crater where this explosion occured. Fortunately, no one was injured. The volcano continues to billow large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas which could become deadly to people in the park and in nearby Volcano town if the winds stop. As a result of the danger from SO2, Hawaii County is preparing evacuation plans for the town of Volcano. The current levels are already impacting their air quality and smells bad in the town. The Volcano golf course and surrounding homes are the closest to the crater. Fortunately, rain has kept the air clean here in Hilo.


Although cruise ships are less frequent to Hilo, visitors are flocking to nearby Puna to catch a glimpse of the lava flow from Kailuea into the ocean. The interesting part of the flow is on Hawaii county property, rather than Volcanoes National Park, requiring that the county create parking, control the flow of traffic, and patrol the area. It is estimated that 10,000 visitors came to see the lava on the first day that the county opened the access road in Kalapana.

Hilo Bay view

The weather has been lovely, but the weeks without rain is resulting in a shortage of water, particularily for those dependent on rain water fed catchment tanks. Folks in Puna have had to wait days for water delivery, though apparently the wait has been up to several weeks in droughts in past years. Living in Hilo gives us the luxury of water from the county water system. The trade winds have gone away, resulting in a dry March, traditionally a wet month. March will likely be unusually dry, in stark contrast to the first week of February this year which was one of the wettest weeks on record with over 35.3 inches of rain and wide spread flooding. Being in this remote part of the world surrounded by the Pacific has not protected Hawaii from weather adnormalities impacting the world.

You can see the grass turning brown at the park, something we haven't seen before.

Dry Hilo

Gasoline prices are rising, as it is in most of the US. The prices today (Mar 11, 2008) in Hilo are still below the $4.00/gallon price reported in Kona.

Hilo gas 3-11-8



Living in a small town like Hilo requires that sometimes we have to go to the big city to get something done. In this case we had to get a visa for a passport. It is strange not to be able to jump in the car and drive to the state capital - but here, we have to hop on an airplane. There were lots of other folks on the plane, having to go to Honolulu, to go to a specialist doctor, visit someone in the hospital, etc. On the flight we had a great view of snow covered Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa behind it.
flight to Honolulu

We use to go to Waikiki to relax and get away from the craziness of California. After living in Hilo, Waikiki feels crazy. The traffic, the noise, the people, it all feels overwhelming. We can now tell how much we have relaxed living in Hilo.

Traffic in Honolulu Hawaii

Waikiki continues to grow and one wonders how the little island of Oahu will be able to sustain itself with the energy requirements to power and cool their huge buildings.

Waikiki, HI

The tourists flock to see the sunset.

Watching the sunset on Waikiki BeachWatching the sunset from Waikiki Beach

The construction boom is seen all around Honolulu. We could see buildings under construction in every direction.

New Tower in Honolulu Hawaii

Oil-powered generation stations are the primary source of energy for Oahu.

Honolulu Electric power generator


The big news on Hawaii continues to be the volcano. The lava flows that coursed through the old Royal Gardens subdivision are swiftly advancing toward the ocean and a new lava flow may be breaking out near Kalapana. The lava flows are within the county of Hawaii (rather than Volcanoes National Park) leaving the Mayor and local police to deal with the traffic jam of curious lava watchers showing up in Puna to have a look. The county is trying to create a viewing spot and place for helicopters to land, but may have to block all traffic. In addition to the danger of new flows appearing at any time in the area, the gases produced when the lava hits the ocean are deadly. They call the gases “laze,” or lava haze, and it contains hydrochloric acid droplets.

The trade winds have picked up, so Hilo is clear of the SO2, for now. We've had two 2.0ish earthquakes just in the past hour. The earthquakes feel very different to us than the ones in California. Instead of shaking, it feels like the whole house is being lifted up from the ground.

Previous Februrary and January Log posts


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