Less than a week to go

Until The Donald, aka Rumplethinskin, is inagurated as our 45th President.  Unthinkable, but there it is.  The vitriol on social media continues unabated with both sides seemingly wilfully misinterpreting the other.  Weirdness abounds in abundance – claims from the right that Obama made the country more racist, but no indication of how he managed this feat  and denials that he did anything good for the country at all (never mind the economic recovery, withdrawal of troops from around the globe, or extending health insurance to millions – none of that either happened or was good if it did…) and almost equal hysteria from the left – albeit, in my view, slightly more merited – that the apocolypse is upon us.  There is no rational discourse, no agreement to disagree, and certainly no attempts whatsoever on the part of the Orange Monstrosity to heal and bring together.  All he seems capable of doing is tweeting his displeasure with any and all who question him in the smallest ways, and encouraging those who blindly support his every move – sometimes to the point of questionable legality as with Linda Bean of LL Bean.

Questionable legality may be what saves us from an extended Trump presidency in the end, as he has refused to disconnect from his ’empire’ and the specter of conflicts of interest loom large given the global nature of his businesses.  His unpredictableness, and his narcissism may wear thin quickly, and his own party may turn on him and surely he will be providing them with ample ammunition for an impeachment should they so choose.  That is even without going to the Russian connection and what is behind his ‘bromance’ with Vladimir Putin.  There seems to be something going on there that could even potentially rise to level of treason if all was known.

For now, all that seems clear is that whatever Trump does is going to serve Trump first and foremost and everyone else after that.  The Cabinet of Deplorables will most likely go about trying to dismantle the agencies they will have been put in place to lead, but that task is going to be formidable, much more so than they or he realize, as the agencies are peopled with career bureaucrats who know the game far better than any of these appointees every will, and who know very well how to hunker down, look like they are doing what is asked of them, and wait out the storm.

Like the ancient Chinese curse, we have been born into interesting times….



The 100th Battalion and the 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment, part II

While the 100th Battalion was deployed in Italy, the men of the 442nd remained in the U.S. to complete training.  Their adopted motto was “Go for Broke” and in later years they have been popularly known in the islands by that designation.


The two forces were reunied in  Civitavecchia north of Rome on 11 June 1944. The 100th was placed under the command of the 442nd on 15 June 1944 and on 14 August 1944, the 100th Battalion was officially assigned to the 442nd as its 1st battalion.  In recognition of the One Puka Puka’s outstanding fighting record, they were allowed to keep the unit designation.   The 100th Battalion’s high casualty rate at Anzio and Monte Cassino earned it the unofficial nickname “Purple Heart Battalion.”

The 442nd, with the 100th Battalion now absorbed into its command went on to fight with great distinction in the Italian campaign and, at the close of that action, were transfered to the French theater.  It was at the Battle of the Bulge that the most famous of the combat actions of the 442nd took place – the rescue of the “Lost Battalion.”  The following is an article written by Burt Masao Takeuchi  in which he interviewed surviving members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and those they rescued as they were sent into an incredibly intense and dangerous mission to rescue another U.S. Army regiment that was trapped by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.

Bravery Comes in Many Colors
In late October 1944, a battalion (141st Infantry Regiment) from the 36th Texas Division was surrounded by the German army. Battles were fought in the densely wooded Vosges mountains located in Northern France near the German border. The Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team (about 3,000 men) was ordered to rescue the Lost Battalion by General Clayton Dahlquist (commander of the 36th Division). The German army had orders from Adolf Hitler to defend the Vosges at all costs. The rescue mission would be one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the US Army.
1st Lt. Robert Foote led an infantry platoon in K Company 442nd. Generally all officers attached to the 442nd were White but the NCO’s were all Nisei’s (second generation Japanese American). “I always felt safe as long as I had one live Nisei soldier left in my company. They would take care of me” said Foote. He “was taken out of action early” in the battle when his platoon attempted to race across some railroad tracks outside the town of Bruyeres. Foote was “blown into the air by a German mortar shell” that literally “landed in his hip pocket.” Foote was severely wounded and had to be evacuated to a hospital. “Into the valley of death…..” commented Foote.

Lt. Marty Higgins, a former “horse soldier” (cavalry), was in command of the Lost Battalion. Higgins formed a strong defensive position on a hill and dug in. Some 50 volunteers attempted to fight their way back to the American lines. They were ambushed and only 5 men returned. Higgins initially wanted to fight his way out of the trap but ruled against it because they didn’t want to leave their wounded behind. Although surrounded, morale was high. Meanwhile food, medicine, ammunition and time was running out.

Lt. Susumu Ito was a forward observer with the 442nd’s field artillery battalion (522nd FAB). Ito’s duties were to direct artillery fire from the batteries of 105 mm howitzers to support the 442nd infantry assaults up the rolling hills. Prior to the battle, Ito received a battlefield commission to Lieutenant. It was rare for Nisei to be promoted to officer status during WW2 for his role in the Italian Campaign.

Sgt. Wally Nunotani had volunteered for the 442nd from Hawaii. Sgt. Nunotani was a section chief in the Cannon Company. The small company was very close to the fighting. Sometimes”we didn’t want to shoot. We could hit our own guys.” Nunotani saw an Me109 German fighter plane “hedge hopping over the lines”. During the cold rainy nights, the Nisei soldiers slept in foxholes. It was “cold especially for Nisei who came from warm places.” “Water would accumulate in foxholes” so “guys would make roofs [over them].” The roofs would also protect the soldiers from “tree bursts” where artillery shells would hit the trees showering the ground with thousands of splinters and shrapnel. These roofs would “protect us from this type of attack.”
Shig Doi from I Company was heavily involved in the fighting to rescue the Lost Battalion. The Germans had machine gun nests in camouflaged positions so “they had to be pinpointed first. You had to work yourself forward [toward them] then use a hand grenade [to knock them out]. If you fired your weapon, “you can expose yourself” to enemy fire. If you fired too soon, “it’s like saying ‘Here I am.”‘ When fighting in a dense forest, “everybody looks for [spare or extra] Tommy Guns” (Thompson sub machine gun). A “handy, close fighting weapon” with “lots of knockout power” from its heavy 45 caliber slugs.

The fighting was from tree to tree and ridge to ridge. The 442nd fought for yards at a time through dense woods shrouded with fog and rain. On October 30th, 1944 the 442nd broke through the German lines rescuing the Lost Battalion after storming up Banzai Hill. “We took a lot of losses” said Doi. A German sniper shot a Nisei soldier right in front of him. His friend moving near him was struck in the head and seriously wounded. The sniper “could have picked me off at the same place.” Sometimes he wonders “How come I survived,” commented Doi.
The Meaning of ‘Courage Under Fire’
After the attack, Companies K, L, and I were down to less than 20 men standing each, out of 200 at full strength. Only a handful of Nisei’s that were still able to walk made contact with the Lost Battalion. “I did not witness the first contact that was made by our riflemen but I did see several of the 36th Division fellows crawling out of their deep foxholes and with their bearded, bewildered look greet us with delight and relief,” noted Ito. “Saying we were thrilled is an understatement,” commented Higgins.

Shig Doi, 442nd RCT
Robert Foote, 442nd RCT
Marty Higgins, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Division
Susumu Ito, 522nd FAB, 442nd RCT
Wally Nunotani, Cannon Company 442nd RCT
Special Thanks:
George Oiye, 522nd FAB, 442nd RCT
Rudy Tokiwa, 442nd RCT
National Japanese American Historical Society
Japanese American Resource Center
Andy Ono, 442nd RCT Historian
“Honor Bound” video documentary by Wendy Hanamura (KPIX, SF)
“Most Decorated” video documentary by The History Channel
At the end of the battle, General Dahlquist asked the 442nd to pass in review. He asked where are all the men? “Sorry sir… this is all we have left” replied a teary-eyed officer. After days of near constant fighting the 442nd had suffered roughly 1,000 casualties. 200 soldiers were killed in action (or missing) with over 800 seriously wounded. Nunotani was not clear on why the 442nd was sent in to rescue the Lost Battalion. “There were other regiments that could have been used.” Sometimes war is “like being on a football team. You go with the best and hope for the best,” stated Nunotani. For its heroic action in the Vosges, the 442nd received five Presidential Unit Citations.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in US military history.  Roughtly 14,000 men served, earning 9,486 Purple Hearts and the unit was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations  – 5 earned in a single month in the above cited action. Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor, 19 in 2000 as upgrades to other awards, in recognition that, due to the prejudices of the time, they had not been properly recognized.   In all, members of the 442nd received 18,143 awards, including:

21 Medals of Honor (the first awarded posthumously to Private First Class Sadao Munemori, Company A, 100th Battalion, for action near Seravezza, Italy, on 5 April 1945; 19 upgraded from other awards in June 2000.

Recipients include:
Barney F. Hajiro
Mikio Hasemoto
Joe Hayashi
Shizuya Hayashi
Daniel K. Inouye
Yeiki Kobashigawa
Robert T. Kuroda
Kaoru Moto
Sadao Munemori
Kiyoshi K. Muranaga
Masato Nakae
Shinyei Nakamine
William K. Nakamura
Joe M. Nishimoto
Allan M. Ohata
James K. Okubo
Yukio Okutsu
Frank H. Ono
Kazuo Otani
George T. Sakato
Ted T. Tanouye

52 Distinguished Service Cross (including 19 Distinguished Service Crosses which were upgraded to Medals of Honor in June 2000)
1 Distinguished Service Medal
560 Silver Stars (plus 28 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award)
22 Legion of Merit Medals
15 Soldier’s Medals
4,000 Bronze Stars (plus 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award; one Bronze Star was upgraded to a Medal of Honor in June 2000. One Bronze Star was upgraded to a Silver Star in September 2009.)
9,486 Purple Hearts
On 5 October 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion, and Nisei serving in the Military Intelligence Service.

The few remaining members of the 442nd are revered in Hawaii and there is a traveling exhibit which was shown at my local credit union that spured my interest in the story of these incredible men:


Go For Broke Exhibit showing in Kona
August 18, 2014

Kona residents will have the opportunity to view a famous exhibit titled, “Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts” which is currently making a tour of the State. The exhibit chronicles the history of Japanese American soldiers from the famous 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and lesser known Military Intelligence Service (MIS) who served during World War II. It will be showing at the John Y. Iwane Credit Union Center Training Room of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union’s Kaloko Facility from August 18 to September 12, 2014. The HCFCU is located at 73-5611 Olowalu St, Kailua-Kona. Visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The exhibit will be closed on Sundays. Admission is free.

Dean Uemura, HCFCU Executive Vice President-Support Services, “The Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is very proud to be hosting the Go For Broke Exhibit and helping to make it available to the people of the Kona Community. Our credit union was formed in part by several returning veterans of World War II and has served the Kona community for many years, so we are pleased to help to bring this important exhibit here for the first time.” An opening ceremony will take place on Monday, August 18, at 10:00 a.m. to open the display for public viewing.

The Go For Broke exhibit was originally created in the early 1980s through the efforts of more than 100 Nisei veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. The exhibit was originally shown at the Presidio Army base in San Francisco and toured throughout the United States for nearly 10 years. It formed the basis for other exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York. Most recently, the Go For Broke exhibit was featured at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.



AristocraticGirl-sm StillLife LeTitien-sm

Since I’m obsessing about our dog’s health problems anyway, might as well talk about Papillions. As a breed, they go back to the 1500s and are shown in numerous court paintings throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The breed was originally known as the Continental Toy Spaniel, or sometimes the Squirrel Spaniel due to the fluffy tail which is typically carried erect above the dog’s back.  Titian painted so many of the little dogs that they were sometimes also called the Titian Spaniel.

The earlier examples of the breed typically had dropped ears, although the erect ear became more preferred and fashionable in the late 19th century.  The two variations are called Papillion (butterfly) and Phalene (moth) for the erect and dropped ear respectively. The dogs are small, weighing around 10 pounds, and according to the AKC breed standard, can not exceed 11 inches at the shoulder.

Kings Henry II and Henry III both had phalene type Papillions, as did both Madame Pompadour and Marie Antoinette, the latter’s little dog was purportedly under her skirts or carried in her arms when she was beheaded during the Terror following the French Revolution, although this is likely not true.

Papillions are not and do not every appear to have been, working dogs, although they do make good ‘ratters’ (or mousers).  They were bred to be companion dogs and by temperament are best suited to this.  The first Papillion to achieve best in show status at the AKC Westminster Kennel Club was in 1999.  That dog (Kirby was his call name) went on to win several international awards as well.  Papillions also excel at agility and obedience trials and are loving and entertaining companion dogs who, though a bit stubborn, are relatively easily trained and love to do tricks.

Rajah (black and white) and Rufus (brown and white)


For the folks who are following the saga of our little Rufus and his illness.  He’s doing some better and we’re still adjusting the food and dosing trying to find an optimal mix that will make him feel best.  Some days it is two steps forward and one back, and we’re really glad that we decided to stay here with him and cancel our trip to Japan.  He’s still not taking much food by mouth, but we are hoping that once he is done with all the meds he is on, his appetite will return.




Kagoshima is also located on Kyushu Island and is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture. Like neighboring Beppu, it is located in a volcanic area at the foot of the stratovolcano, Sakura Jima. In addition to the usual complement of onsen and spas, which includes another sand bath, there are well-regarded Japanese gardens and two notable museums, one devoted to the Kamakaze Pilots of World War II and another devoted to the end of the Shogunate and restoration of the Meiji emperors.

Historically, Kagoshima was the principal stronghold of the Shimazu clan from the 12th Century until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.  Saigo Takamori and the samuari of Satsuma were the leaders of the Meiji Restoration that overthrew the shogunate (see the book or movie Shogun for more detail) and restored the Emperor to power in 1868.  However Saigo Takamore became dissatisfied with the new government and led an unsucessful  rebellion in 1877 that resulted in his death and the final defeat of the samurai. (see the movie The Last Samuari for more detail – the book The Last Samurai is unrelated.) In recent days, Kagoshima has been hit by two tropical depressions and a volcano off the coast, Mount Shindake, has begun erupting for the first time in 34 years.


We were supposed to be in Japan now, and stayed home instead to care for our Papillion Rufus who had to have his gall bladder removed.  I did a lot of port research in preparation for our trip, so I will be sharing that over the next few days.  I had hoped to be able to expand these with some pictures and first hand experiences – maybe another time!


Coffee in Hawaii

Coffee came to Hawaii in the late 1700’s with Don Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish advisor to King Kamehameha I and the first recorded reference to its cultivation in Hawaii is in an 1813 entry in his journal. A well-known horticulturist, he also introduced the pineapple to Hawaii. There is not much more recorded about coffee in the islands until the reign of Kamehameha II – also known as Liholiho. In 1823, Liholiho, his queen Kamamalu, and a retinue of ali’i including Chief Boki, set out on an illfated journey to England, for an audience with King George IV. Chief Boki was one of only four survivors of the party of twelve when the other members of the party, including the King and his wife, died after contracting measles. He returned to the islands, with the bodies of his king and queen, and some Arabica coffee trees, acquired in Brazil on the way home. These were planted on Oahu in the Manoa Valley. The British Consul, Richard Charlton also planted some coffee obtained from Manila. In 1828 or 1829, other trees were planted in the Kalihi and Niu valleys near Honolulu.

In the first attempts to bring coffee to the Big Island, the Rev. Joseph Goodrich planted some coffee hoping to make the Hilo mission self-sustaining. Goodrich planted gardens over his 12 years at Hilo, and taught classes for native Hawaiians on cultivation of both for cash to support the mission, as well as vegetables and tropical fruits for their own meals. However, it wasn’t until Rev. Samuel Ruggles (1795–1871) carried some cuttings of coffee to the Kona District when he was transferred from Hilo on the eastern side of the island of Hawaii to the Kealakekua Church on the western side in July 1828 that the Kona Coffee industry was born. The first production records from 1848 list 248 pounds of coffee being produced on Kauai and the Big Island, but the transplanted trees found near ideal conditions in Kona and thrived and by 1878 the district was producing 150,194 pounds of coffee annually and was listed as the 13th largest coffee production area in the world.
Henry Nicholas Greenwell, a coffee trader from Kona, was given an award for excellence at the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna, which gave some recognition to the Kona Coffee name. The first coffee mill in Hawaii near Kealakekua Bay was built around 1880 by John Gaspar, Sr. and in 1892 the Guatemalan variety of coffee was introduced to Hawaii by German planter Hermann A. Widemann. Between 1850 and 1900 coffee was Hawaii’s single largest agricultural crop, only overcome by sugar cane and pineapple in the early decades of the twentieth century. As cane and pineapple were both easier to cultivate, far less labor intensive, and more profitable, much coffee acreage was converted to these crops, and coffee continued principally on small independent farms in the Kona District of the Big Island, and with marginal returns. By 1916, coffee production was down to about 2.7 million pounds.

However, in the later decades of the twentieth century, increasing international completion, combined with locally high labor costs, drove the sugar plantations and most of the pineapple growers out of business and in some areas coffee is making a resurgence as viable replacement crop. Coffee is now being produced commercially on the Big Island, Maui, Molokai and Kauai. Average yields are around 1400 pounds of ‘parchment’ or raw coffee berries per acre and production in 2007 was about 8.6 million pounds.

Coffee also plays a part in the ‘agri-tourism’ business with many farms offering tasting rooms and tours – the Greenwell Farm http://www.greenwellfarms.com/coffee-history being one of the better ones. The Kona Historical Society offers a view into the ‘old Hawaii’ coffee farm way of life at the Living History Coffee Farm http://www.konahistorical.org/index.php/tours/kona-coffee-living-history-farm/

Hawaiian Chants and the Kumulipo

At the time that turned the heat of the earth,
At the time when the heavens turned and changed,
At the time when the light of the sun was subdued
To cause night to break forth,
At the time of the night of Makali’i (winter)
Then began the slime which established the earth.
The source of deepest darkness.
Of the depth of darkness, of the depth of darkness,
Of the darkness of the sun, in the depth of night,
It is night,
So was night born.

(From the Kumulipo)
The Kumulipo is the Hawaiian Creation Chant first published in Hawaiian at the direction of King Kalakaua in 1889, and translated into English in 1897 by the dethroned Queen Liliu’okalani. It is a total of 2102 lines long, and was created in honor of Lonoikamakahiki, whose birth stopped a feud between the ʻI and Keawe families. The Kumulipo is a cosmogonic genealogy, and it has 16 “wā” which means era or age. In each wā, something is born whether it is a human, plant, or creature. In the final nine wā, is the arrival of light and the gods, the changing of animals into the first humans, and finally the complex genealogy of Kalani‘īimamao that goes all the way to the late 18th century.
Kimo Campbell in the preface to the translation speculates as to why these two monarchs has such a strong interest in the Kumulipo and suggests that King Kalakaua, who was elected to his office, might have wished to use this genealogy chant to establish himself as a true descendant of the ancient chiefs of Hawai’I with rights to the position he held. Liliu’okalani, Campbell postulates, might have published the translation in part to counter a popular pro-annexation argument that Hawaiians were ignorant savages who had no culture prior to the arrival of Captain Cook. Perhaps she had hoped to demonstrate the high level of cultural attainment of the Hawaiian people through sharing the complexity of the chant which revealed a poetic heritage, finely attuned to nature in its imagery, and sophisticated in the themes and kaona (hidden or double meanings) that it contained. There are also striking similarities between the Kumulipo and the Judeo-Christian creation myth in Genesis, in the world arising from darkness into light, and in the order of creation of the plants, animals and humans.
Pre-contact Hawaiian culture was perpetuated by oral tradition and lacking a written language. Histories, genealogies, myths and legends were passed on in complex and lengthy chants which into two broad categories, mele oli and mele hula.  Mele was the word for “poetic language” although subsequently it has come to mean song. In pre-contact Hawai’i, there was no Western style melodic singing. Haku mele, the equivalent of Celtic bards, trained for years learning to compose, recite and teach others to perform the ancient chants, which had to be done perfectly both in content and style of delivery.

Training began as children with exercises in memory, breath control, and other necessary skills. One competition involved two trainees lying chest down facing the sun beside a pool of still water. Each inhaled, then slowly whispered, “na’u-u-u-u,” while being judged on who could sustain the hum the longest by watching the rippling water. Training sessions went on for hours with students imitating the sound of breaking waves or the roar of a waterfall.
Mele oli chants are unaccompanied by any instrument and are generally performed by one individual. Mele hula are chants accompanied by dance or by dance and musical instruments, and are often performed by more than one person.

Sorry about the email notices

I’m new to this whole blogging business and I accidentally erased my settings when upgrading the ‘add-ons’ package that governs such things. That said, I don’t have much to say today, as we’ve been caught up with the drama of our sick doggie, and so for today, that’s pretty much all that I’m thinking about.

For the record, he is doing pretty well considering that he’s had an over three-hour surgery and had both his gall bladder and a large and several smaller stones removed from his urine bladder. He came through the surgery well, and his vital signs are good, but he’s spending another night at the vet hospital which is almost two hours away from our house. We didn’t go to visit for fear of agitating him, as the doctor said it was imperative for him to be quiet and rest and recover. Poor little guy is on iv’s and antibiotics and may need to stay put until the first of the week, but we will go and see him, at the very least, tomorrow.

It has been a very traumatic few days for both us and our fur children. Rufus’ brother Rajah is very woebegone as well and just doesn’t get where his buddy is.

Rajah and Rufus
Rajah and Rufus