Fired for Facebook?

Fired for Facebook?

Back in 2009, a 16-year-old in England posted on her Facebook wall that her first day at work was “omg so dull.”

She continued to lambast her job until her boss called her into his office and put the teenager out of her misery.

He fired her. (Read the story here.)

That same year a 22-year-old from Berkeley, Calif. posted this on Twitter after getting a job offer with Cisco:

“Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

Another Cisco employee saw the post and responded with his own tweet: “Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web.”

The 22-year-old apparently never worked a day at Cisco. Wonder why.

Turns out using social media at work — and even venting about work — is commonplace in today’s office culture. Even my student employees are often browsing photos on Facebook or watching videos on YouTube without a second thought.

And with Google+, it’s even worse. We just can’t escape those red notifications while checking email!

I can’t say I don’t use social networking sites while at work, either. (And my friends online are all guilty of this, too.) But I don’t abuse the access I have.

But where do you draw the line?

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Special desserts coming to Halekulani in August

Special desserts coming to Halekulani in August

It’s not everyday you can feast on the dessert creations of a master pastry chef from Japan.

But next month you can sample the sweet masterwork of Chef Kanjiro Mochizuki, the pastry master from the iconic and legendary Imperial Hotel Tokyo, at the the posh Halekulani in Waikiki.

Called “The Art of the Dessert,” the hotel will offer special desserts you won’t get anywhere else. We’re talking one-of-a-kind sweets like the delicate roll cakes, shown above, or the clever bamboo shoot cake, shown below.

The desserts — all created by the award-winning Mochizuki, in conjunction with Halekulani’s pastry chef Mark Freischmidt — will be served during daily afternoon tea service at the hotel’s Veranda Tea Room.

The special dessert menus — exclusive to the Halekulani — will run from Aug. 8 to 31.

But wait, there’s more.

The master pastry chef will host a pastry demonstration at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 6, followed by an afternoon tea where you can sample his dessert creations with a flute of champagne. (This is part of Halekulani Living, the hotel’s luxury and lifestyle series.) Cost is $49 and reservations are required.

Or you can indulge in these sweet creations at the popular Sunday brunch on Aug. 7 at Orchids. Cost is $57 and reservations are required, too.

Sure, it’s pricey. But it’s certainly cheaper than a roundtrip ticket to Tokyo.

For more information about “The Art of the Dessert” or to make reservations, call (808) 923-2311 or visit its website.

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‘Member eating that?

‘Member eating that?

One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up on Sunday morning to the smell of freshly baked biscuits, cubed potatoes drenched in butter, and, my all-time favorite, vinha d’alhos.

It’s a Portuguese pickled pork dish that came to Hawaii via immigrants from the Azores and Medeira. My grandmother used to make it all the time — and, luckily, my mom learned how to prepare it, too. So it’s been in our family for generations.

It’s funny how certain smells can take you right back to that moment in your past, whether it’s a lunch from elementary school or that go-to late-night snack during finals week in college. (I’m permanently scarred from eating too many Pop Tarts.)

Every time I smell that vinegary vinha d’alhos — which isn’t often unless I’m at Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop in Kailua on certain days or making it at home myself — it reminds me of my childhood, those early Sunday mornings or family breakfasts after opening gifts on Christmas Day.

Is there a dish that brings you back?

For a recipe to make vinha d’alhos, click here.

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Would you pay for news online?

Would you pay for news online?

Back in March, the news juggernaut New York Times began charging the most frequent users of its website to access news they used to get for free. (Read its announcement back in January here.)

Others have tried. But no American news organization as large as The Times has put its content behind what’s called a pay wall.

While the response was mixed, the company remained steadfast — and readers, so far, have embraced the pay-for-access concept. According to the Times, it had 224,000 digital subscribers at the end of the second quarter, in addition to 57,000 who are accessing the paper on e-readers and “replica editions.” All told, the company has 281,000 paid digital subscribers.

“The positive consumer response to the digital subscription packages is a strong indication of the value that users place on our high-quality news, analysis, and commentary,” said Janet L. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, in a statement.”

But will this model work in, say, Hawaii?

We’re about to find out, as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser announced yesterday it was going to start charging for premium online content on Aug. 5.

(Subscribers to the print edition will receive all-access passes to premium content at no extra charge.)

For $19.95 a month, here’s what you get:

• The print edition
• Access to all website content
• Access to a new e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition
• Access via computer, iPad, iPhone or smartphone
• Ability to forward stories to their email or social media accounts
• Participate in online discussions
• Ability to open links to premium content

The thing is, I’m not sure what “premium content” is.

Because here’s the weird thing: According to the story, nonsubscribers will still have free digital access to breaking news, Associated Press stories, the website’s front page and section fronts, event calendars, Honolulu Pulse, TGIF, photo galleries, blogs, classifieds, travel, obituaries and traffic.

Isn’t that all you need…?

I could be wrong. I want to be wrong. I don’t want to see another newspaper — especially the one in my hometown — go the way of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News.

But unless the Star-Advertiser starts pumping out high-quality, well-researched analysis packages with real privileges like Civil Beat, I don’t know why people would pay.

Would you?

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Once in Cherry Blossom, always in Cherry Blossom

Once in Cherry Blossom, always in Cherry Blossom

People often ask me why I participated in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival 10 years ago.

It’s never a simple answer.

Truth is, I didn’t grow up wanting to be part of the annual ethnic festival that, for decades, was more like a beauty pageant than the cultural experience it is today.

I had no business running in a beauty pageant — can’t wear high heels, legs scarred up from run-ins with asphalt, swearing problem — and, besides, the festival didn’t allow half-Japanese women like me to participate.

Until 1999, when Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the festival, decided to open it up to multiethnic Japanese-American women. It was a controversial but necessary (at least in my opinion) move, as the festival better reflected the multiethnic community of which it was a part.

Now I had no excuse.

What sold me was the cultural aspect of the festival. As a contestant, you get the opportunity to learn about the Japanese culture in hands-on classes such as ikebana, calligraphy, sushi-making, tea ceremony, kimono-dressing and — my favorite — taiko drumming.

The surprise was, though, that I gained lifelong friends, the kind you know will always support you no matter how ridiculous your ideas are, who know exactly how to make you laugh, and who, when you see them after months, it’s like you just saw them the other day.

That kind of friend.

And not just with my fellow contestants, either. Since volunteering with the festival after my stint on court, I’ve been fortunate enough to make these same strong friendships with other volunteers, who all believes in this festival, too.

The 60th Cherry Blossom Festival is currently seeking applicants — hence, the blog — and if you know a Japanese-American woman between 19 and 26 who’s interested in learning about their culture, gaining professional development and networking experience, and open to making friends for life, tell her to apply. (Application here. The deadline has been extended to Aug. 15.)

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Here’s a sample of what the contestants go through during the six months leading up to Festival Ball:

Ikebana class

Picture 1 of 20

The contestant experience involves a lot of cultural classes — all free and held after-work hours. Last year's contestants, like Elizabeth Lee-Tamahana (right), took an ikebana class from Roy Otaguro from MOA Hawaii.

About the 60th Cherry Blossom Festival

Applicants must have at least 50 percent Japanese ancestry, be between the ages of 19 and 26 years old, single, a U.S. citizen and Hawaii resident. A completed registration form, proof of Japanese ancestry through a birth certificate and a $30 application fee is required.

For more information about the Cherry Blossom Festival, visit or email Visit the festival’s Facebook page at or follow it on Twitter @cbfhi.

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