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SureFire Powerpak


Mobile video light review

When it comes to a video light, I used to lug heavy camera gear around to capture the funny, meaningful or downright awesome moments that can spontaneously arise during the days of our lives. Since the cellphone revolution, my camera has become my choice mostly for it’s light weight, flexibility of use and features, and reasonably fast time of operation.

Let’s say an important moment is emerging, I reach for my cell and in a second or two am ready for the moment to present. Or, perhaps a moment is in full swing, in a few seconds, I’m recording without having lost much of the meaningful moments.

A serious impediment to night-time photography, recording those “dark moments,” is the cellphone camera itself. Cell cameras are notorious for their poor low-light performance, making low light spontaneity unable to be visually recorded. Also, cell flashlights have limited range and focus. External video lights can be cumbersome and lack flexibility. So, if I’m holding a light and trying to focus/exposure, AND point-n-shoot, frame the image, I’m not going to get optimum results.

SureFire video light and mobile case
The video light mounted on a iph6

FirePak video light

Along comes the FirePak video light, charger and flashlight. SureFire’s design strategy is simple enough, integrate a phone case with rechargeable storage and 2 high-performance mobile LED lights with enough lumens designed for video for 16:9 video frames in a form factor compatible with multiple sizes of phone cameras. USB and micro-USB ports allow charging your cell phone from the charger, or an included cable can be used to recharge the FirePak video light. SureFire says it has an effective range of up to 50 feet and while the light does travel that far, usable lumens land in the mid-range.

When I picked up the FirePak for the first time, I was struck by the wedge shape that fit comfortably in my hand. At first, the squished wedge shape looks cumbersome. Pick it up and it feels completely different. If you can imagine a drip coffee cone with the tip cut off and both sides squished flatter into an oval shape, you can imagine the shape of this flashlight. The FirePak slides smoothly under the molded rails of the phone case snapping securely onto a stop that positions the LED lights in two positions with respect to the iPhone camera.

SureFire video light and mounting case
Features of the video light and mobile case

The durable case is built for rugged use (not moisture or water) with a 4-level light switch and distinct illumination levels. Design-wise the features are functional while dramatically expanding your performance—as a video light or a back-up battery.

LED lights create enough lumens for 16:9 video frames

When I switched it on, the double LED “eyes”  emitted two blinding rays of light, even at the lowest setting. I wondered when I might use that much light? However, once you turn it on at night, you discover the benefit of blinding light.

At the highest setting the bulbs create significant heat, so don’t be surprised when you touch it. As an illumination device, there is enough light to do fine work, like reading or repairing, too. A distinct setting for faces for interviews would be a good user feature, just in case you are listening, SureFire?

It’s kinda tough to steady the cell when the light is installed on the case because of the extra weight and thickness requires your normal hand position to block the LEDs. Your hand size and strength will discover what position is best for you. I had to adjust as shown in the pictures below. It’s quite difficult to switch on/off the light without shaking the image. Shooting vertically is difficult for the same reasons, so you’ll have to learn how to control the frame with two hands.

SureFire video light
Normal hand position for mobile recording
SureFire video light
You may have to modify your hand position for this video light

If I were a DP on a film using cell-phone video, and this light, I would make sure there were several on charge at all times. No one wants to wait for your only battery to charge. A question a newbie DP might ask is: How long will one last? So, test your equipment before shoot day, OK?

Charging the unit

Charging the unit was problematic, as my first attempts failed, due I believe to a mismatched charger plug. Initially, I began charging the Firepak using a USB port built into a small power strip. After two days, the blinking red light indicated it was not fully charged, though I thought it might be close to fully charged, so I began to charge my cellphone at 5%. I recorded the time and charging rate at 10% intervals but at 57% the FirePak fully discharged and stopped charging the cell battery. I reached out to Rob Kay of Guns and Tech, he suggested using a direct charging plug and trying again. Once I plugged it into a 2A charger direct to the plug, it charged up overnight.

All in all, this unit is a good buy for those who want to expand their video capabilities to low-night-time conditions. It is small and powerful enough to have in your toolbox, just in case. It is durable and useful for most cellphone recording situations. And, it serves well as a flashlight illuminator during emergencies and when you might need a torch to light your path.

Whether you already have a youtube channel, are a budding professional videographer, or just want the firepower to be able to record life’s dark moments, FirePak is an excellent choice for all. You can see the FirePak in action at the manufacturer’s website:


GoalZero & Sunjack reviews


Portable Powerpack Solar panel reviews

As everyone who lives here knows, Hawaii is no stranger to power outrages. The last big storm that came through knocked power out on the North Shore for half a day, yet that of course would be child’s play, if we got hit by something the magnitude of Iniki or Irma. As we all know, it’s just a matter of time.

So, how to charge our devices, in this event? Not everyone can afford a gas-powered generator (at least $1000) much less deal with the hassle of storing fuel. There are a few fixes that will at least keep small devices like your phone, pad, flashlight or radio powered up.

The first option, and the least expensive, is to stock up on batteries. The industry standard for modern flashlights, radios, lanterns, etc is the 18650 Li-Ion battery. Get yourself a battery charger to keep them topped off.

If you want to charge devices such as tablets, cell phones, etc., you’ll need to get some type of powerbank, essentially a battery with ports that allow you to charge any USB-based device. I’d suggest, opting for a portable solar panel which can assist in charging small devices, and keeping powerbanks topped off. There are a number of them available for backpackers or home users.

Input: Solar panels with charging cable arrangement. Output: Panel—>Powerpak—>Phone is the correct order

Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit

With a little research, I soon came upon the weatherproof GoalZero Zero Venture 30 portable power-bank phone, tablet & solar panel combo. It is a compact kit that includes storage and recharger. The kit is designed for the backpacker or traveler but anyone with charging needs in an emergency can benefit from this system.

Designed to charge point-of-view cameras, tablets, phones and other USB compatible devices, it’s 28 Wh (3.6V 7800 mAh) rechargeable battery can be coupled with a Nomad 7, 13 or 20-watt solar panel. Together they weigh a little more than 1-½ pounds. Built for travel or backpacking, for home use, it’s a bit under-powered.

Output kit showing cable types and solar panel chaining feature

The battery unit has been designed to be weatherproof (light rain not submersion) and shock-proof (moderate impact resistance) and can remember charging profiles of the devices you connect. The battery can be placed into a protective shipping mode designed to avoid self-discharge during periods of storage. For natural disasters, fully charging the battery and then placing it in storage mode for future use, is recommended prior to the event. Such a practice extends battery life significantly. The manufacturer claims “hundreds of life charging cycles” for the battery. The battery has two USB ports each capable of dishing out 2.4A each just like a plug version would. Apple, Android and Windows devices compatible with the output cables above.

This system included a 7-watt panel. While a standard 2A USB plug-in source can charge the battery in as little as 5 hours, charging times will vary from 16-hours with the 7-watt panel to 6-hours with the 20 watt panel. Priced accordingly, an innovative aspect of this kit is up to 4 solar panels can be chained together via the chaining input port.  Remember, battery and device charging times will depend on both the panels capacity, the angle of the sun to the panels, and the amount of sunlight available in your geographic location.

Test setup: Input (solar panels) and Output (cable types): Panel—>Powerpak—>Phone is the correct order

During periods of use, charge the battery fully first, then connect to the battery and charge your devices is the recommended use cycle. And, don’t forget to place the recharger in storage mode before you put it away for future use. Prior to an emergency, I suggest a dry run with the devices you plan to use before the emergency occurs so you understand the limits and capabilities of your Venture 30 Solar panel recharger kit.

SunJack 14W solar charger with 1o000mAh battery pack retails for $169 and is a good bet for camping or home use.

Sunjack 14W Portable Solar Charger + Powerbank

Another solar panel/powerbank combo we tested was the Sunjack 14W Portable Solar Charger + Powerbank.

The solar charger has four panels and when folded is about the size of an Apple iPad. It folds into a rugged nylon case, which can be quickly unfolded and hung up to face the sun. A mesh pouch on the rear holds the charging port and cables, the devices to be charged, and the battery pack. It has a series of grommets along the edges of the panel so that you can easily attach it to your backpack.

The panels provide up to 14W of 5 volt USB power under a bright sun ideally producing 2,000mAh every hour. That means you can recharge the powerbank that comes with it in about 4 hours (under a bright Hawaii sun).

Sunjack’s powerbank includes Qualcomm’s “Quick Charge 3.0” technology, which speeds up charging appreciably if the device on the other end (in this case my phone) also has “Quick Charge” capabilities.

The panels provide up to 14W of 5 volt USB power under a bright sun ideally producing 2,000mAh every hour. That means you can recharge the powerbank that comes with it in about 4 hours (under a bright Hawaii sun).

According to the experts I spoke to at 1.5-2Ah is the minimum acceptable usable panel output.

Otherwise, charging your powerbank, or anything else, will take a full day. The Sunjack 14 W system, which retails for $149 (with the power bank) is a good place to start. You could also consider their 20W kit with 2 lithium battery packs, for $169.

The Sunjack’s 10,000mAh Advanced Powerbank, which comes with the solar kit (or sells separately for $29) has three ports, the standard USB, the micro USB and the new USB-C. What I really like is that it comes with Qualcomm’s “Quick Charge 3.0” technology. This means if you have a phone or other device that is “quick charge” compatible (such as my Samsung 7) this little unit will charge your device (according to the manufacturer) up to 80% faster.

A mesh pouch on the rear holds the charging port and cables, the devices to be charged, and the battery pack. (Courtesy Tim Yan photo)

Whether it’s 80% or 59% faster is anyone’s guess but it’s fast. My cell phone was charged in about 20 minutes. In an emergency situation this could be crucial.

I’d certainly recommend this nifty little combo from SunJack.

The takeaway on this piece is the larger solar charging unit you can afford, the better. What’s more, if you can get a combo that comes with a fast-charging powerbank, assuming your devices also have this capability, get one.

Editor’s Note: Rob Kay contributed to this article.

Earth Day 2017


Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 11.10.37 AMHow many of you remember the first time you saw our Earth? This view of ourselves embedded in a living planet, wrapped in oneness, exploded into our collective consciousness.

Did you know soon after this view of our whole planet was available to us, the modern global environmental movement was birthed?

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” – Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948

For many Americans, perhaps the entire human population, this picture has sparked a collective shift about our planet. For the first time in history, we saw that we are all on a canoe—one race of islanders afloat in a sea of space.

This photo was taken from Apollo 8 on Christmas eve 1968 while scouting for a moon landing site. The crew lost radio contact with NASA going around the back of the moon and took this photo when they re-emerged from the dark side of the moon.

Imagine… as they rounded the moon’s edge, they saw our Earth some 240,000 miles away—glowing in deep blue framed by white clouds—embedded in seemingly empty space. The surface features in the foreground are on the eastern limb of the moon as viewed from our planet.

Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders had become the first humans to leave Earth orbit, entering lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. In a historic live broadcast that night, the crew took turns reading from the Book of Genesis, closing with a holiday wish from Commander Borman: “We close Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 11.07.03 AMwith good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.” — Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell

As a species we had ventured beyond our Earth’s atmosphere into the sea of emptiness around our planet home. It was the first mission to leave Earth orbit and these were the first astronauts to see the Earth as a whole. Now we have the meta-view, a view of ourselves as one system, held together in space with no one to save us and no one more responsible than us for our shared destiny.

Within 2 years of publication of this perspective, 1970, the modern environmental movement was birthed, the first Earth Day was held, and the Federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were passed by a Republican, Richard Nixon, who clearly recognized the values of conservation, of clean air and water to all our people.

In 1970, with nine staff members and a $125,000 budget, a Washington, D.C.-based group organized the Environmental Teach-in, which would become became the first Earth Day.

 With then senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as their champion, the staffers brought together volunteers in dozens of cities and college campuses around the country.

Judy Moody and Denis Hayes on April 22, 1970 with the first Earthday teach-in banner in the background

Hayes, who had dropped out of Harvard Law School the year before to join Senator Nelson’s project, also chaired the Earth Day anniversary celebrations in 1990 and 2000. 
”[Hayes was] the one who did the unglamorous, wearisome job of starting it up,” Ralph Nader told the New York Times in 1990. “[Hayes] is an orchestrator of environmental events which were national … and now are global.”

Like Earth, Hawaiian islands are remote and surrounded by a sea that restricts passage, yet, unlike Hawaii, humans do not have ships bringing food or water to Earth. There is no Planet B. We have no other home nor do we have alternative sources of food and water.

BruceJustinAlGore1999LtrEarth day 1970 celebrations in Hawaii were led by Bruce Justin Miller and his team at University of Hawaii. The events of the first Earth Day, were called the First National Environmental Teach-In. While I do not have any pictures from that day, I ran across this letter written from Al Gore to Bruce and his team in 1999.
[Click on the pictures to expand them into larger sizes for reading or to download.]

And, these micro-fiche snippets from Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser, are illustrative of the energy and interest of folks then. Thanks to Dave Atcheson.

HonoluluAdvertiser_EarthDay1970In the Honolulu-Advertiser article was an a column advocating green practices. Notice it mentions the UH Earth Day event, and proposes ways for islanders to reduce waste by using reusable bags, making laundry soap, reducing car miles, and eliminating toxic cleaning products, and pesticides, such as DDT, etc.

Yet, here we are almost 50-years later debating those same ideas, because fossil fuel businesses have such a stranglehold on politics and people, we still cannot believe we can change our behaviors, it seems.StarBulletin04221970

 In the second article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, dated April 22, 1970, a prophetic quote from scientist, Dr. J. Murray Mitchell Jr. who said, “…The release of increasing quantities of carbon dioxide and thermal pollution into the atmosphere threatens to change global weather and melt the polar ice, flooding wide areas. Man may begin to notice the change by the end of this century.”

For many GenX’ers, perhaps even Boomers—ahead of our time—that our society is still _talking_ about changing our behavior, almost 50-years later, reducing our waste and footprint on our only planet—still talking and not doing—induces major depression and climate angst. Yet, it is also the driving force for social improvement of our continued advocacy. As the 50th anniversary approaches of that moment when a picture of our Earth shimmering in space changed us forever, why not get involved with the Earth Day Network?

Riseup folks, we are much better than we have been programmed to believe! Stand up for the Earth on which you stand.

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Preparing for the Future of Work


Future of Work is Here

Each generation’s ability to advance their own destinies and contribute positively to subsequent generations is dependent on their awareness of how important it is to be future focused. The hourglass of time does not stop running, and it will take all of us, starting now, to imagine and work our way beyond the past we and our ancestors have created, yet where many surprisingly find ourselves stuck.

Look… the future is coming for you. Can you imagine a future-focused—worst and best-case scenario—a scenario largely dependent upon what we do now?

Starting with a pragmatic understanding of reality, as it is today—this moment—is crucial to effectively create our dreams in the future. It has been said, if you are anxious, you are focused too much on the future. If you are, regretful or depressed, too much on the past. If you are content, then you are present focused. Too much of one and you are stuck!

Near Future Scenario
Anyone Born after 2000 and Today’s High School Students

man-76196_1920Scenario…The year is 2025. Hawaii, like most of the U.S., has accelerated their shift to a model relying upon extended family groups. College debt has continued to rise and further compromised meager savings; increased long-term debt has become an unsustainable challenge for many parents and students, alike. Little attention has been focused on what courses and degrees will result in work (or jobs) for these youngsters who have grown up in an age of uncertainty. The poor have grown poorer, educational systems have not kept up with emerging market-driven needs and the middle-class, especially has continued to erode. The U.S. world educational ranking grade remains at a “C” – i.e., the bottom of the middle of the pack.

A different scenario…The year is still 2025.

Ostock-exchange-911608_1920ur educational institutions have responded to the revolutionary needs of students and provided them with expert guidance as to the set of courses that will ensure their best options in the future. Likewise, college costs have been eased by the inclusion of more virtual courses taught by world-renowned educators who inspire as well as instruct. Targeted technical knowledge, specific skills, flexibility and lifetime learning are now embraced by highly diverse mainstream workers. U.S. world educational rankings have risen to a “B” and we are on our way to an “A” ranking.

Now, today, ask yourself:

The Playbook for Teens is co-authored by Hawaii Wingman, Carleen MacKay, who is the originator of a series of work-focused playbooks for several generations.
  • Are your children’s schools teaching robotics and new technologies at every age and level – from kindergarten on? Do you know?
  • Are you involved with your children’s teachers – challenging them to advocate for continuous improvement in teaching methodologies?
  • Have you read Playbook for Teens on Amazon? Might you inspire high-schoolers with the real-life stories of people, just a few years older than they are; people who can demonstrate winning game plans that will matter to their own futures.
  • Are you building blocks for future-focused viable careers by helping your children to find opportunities to learn well beyond the classroom walls?

The future will be determined by what we teach our children today

Pivot to the Pacific, into YOUR future.

workforcewingmentaglogoWe are your Wingmen

Reach out to your favorite wingman—we are multi-generational coaches. You will benefit from our proven 8-Step process. Let us guide you to what you need to know and do in order to advance your career in a time of hyper-shift. We can help you implement a plan that will work for you the day after the day after tomorrow.

Look us up on LinkedIn:  Carleen MacKay :: Rob Kinslow
Authors, Speakers, Emergent Workforce Experts

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What’s your calling?

What motivates you to get out into the urban world to stand and speak for positive vision of the future?

My inspiring brother, Blue eyes Tim Kinslow

In 2007, as he lay in the hospital, his body succumbing to the ravages of chemo and cancer, my younger brother called me out. I was there with about 30 of his family and friends. Tim had been sitting quietly in his bed, propped up, yet with his head lowered, listening to the muffled banter from everyone. I was over at the door, opening and closing it softly so that the sudden sounds would not jar him, as he loved quiet stillness.

Suddenly, he raised his head, looked me in the eyes from across the room, and asked, “What are you doing over there, Robbie?”

Continue reading the rest of the story…

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Future of Work Trends


Think about five short years from now, UNLESS something radical changes…

By 2021…

  1. The old will be older and broker and millions, in this fastest aging of U.S. States, will increase dependence upon younger generations amid overburdened social and healthcare systems that are ready to plunge our economy into a state-of-disaster.
  1. Gen “Z” will be out in full force – half won’t be ready and many more will be denied access to specific skills and competencies the future demands. Increased negative economic and societal challenges will increase major differences. In Hawaii, for example, college costs will continue to rise much faster than subsequent wage growth.


  2. Hawaii’s workers will not be in the full-time, “job” workforce. In the private sector, needed skills, competencies and talent will be used when needed, if needed and as often as needed. The race to a safe haven in the public sector will be overtaken by underfunded pensions. Our ability to pay for the last of the “lifetime” jobs, already standing on shaky ground, will be vulnerable to changes you might not want to experience.

Yet, IF we straighten up and fly right… support our people,

By 2021…

  1. Old age will be re-defined and Kupuna will be encouraged to continue to contribute to the world of work – well into their 70’s, perhaps 80’s. Likewise, a shift to emerging active aging programs, such as health-focused Blue Zones project, will prove beneficial to all.generation-z_infographic
  1. Gen “Z” will have many more opportunities to learn at modest costs. Much of this learning will be online and will be augmented with the dedicated help of pensioned, older folks who will have the time and interest to actively mentor the most challenged of Gen Z’ers. And, by the way, the youngest among us will also mentor up to help Gen Y, X generations learn what they have to teach.
  1. We will all learn to manage our work lives as our businesses – not as simply jobs! We will embrace lifetime learning, a term that, once-upon-a-time, was simply granted lip service. We will grow our careers, re-align our lives in line with our own changing interests and changing technologies, re-boot old interests and help others to succeed.

We are your Wingmen

Look us up on LinkedIn:  Carleen MacKay ::  Rob Kinslow

The Science of Consciousness & Healing


I want to share a little-known secret for improving your quality of life, achieving deep healing and radiant health… even living longer… and better.

stream-1106336_1920(1)It’s not a new super-food.

It’s not a new yoga practice.

And, it’s certainly not a new pill…

It’s your own consciousness.   

Consciousness is the “x-factor” behind deep healing, radiant health and living a long, productive life — even as you advance into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond!

Yes, health and longevity originate in human consciousness and finds expression in body, mind, heart and soul.

If you’re curious about WHY this is so and, more importantly, want to discover tools you can use to shape your health and happiness, connect with Dr. Marilyn Schlitz. Marilyn has been at the forefront of fascinating and game-changing work in consciousness research, integrative medicine, longevity and healing. She brings more than 30 years experience and study with leading-edge scientists, healers and shamans.ConsciousnessHealing_intro_skyscraper

On Saturday, July 23, she will present a fascinating FREE online event: Using the Power of Your Consciousness for Healing: Discover the X-Factor in Creating Radiant Health.

During this exciting event, you’ll…

  • Receive a more complete picture of how healing really happens through consciousness
  • Discover the power of expectancy in creating pain and discomfort (and what you can do to shift it)
  • Recognize the importance of loving relationships in any healing process
  • Receive insights into the remarkable new findings that show you can consciously influence your genetics, as well as your endocrine and immune system

I invite you to join me for a mind-expanding hour on how to use the power of your consciousness for health and healing. 

True holistic health is so much more than managing your weight and cholesterol and hoping for the best… Marilyn will show you how you can work with your consciousness to achieve a quality life. Register here

be-1358282_1920Using the Power of Your Consciousness for Healing you’ll receive the latest scientific insights that demonstrate the power of your thoughts, emotions and relationships in shaping your health and happiness.

You’ll also be given simple practices to apply in your daily life.

If you can’t listen live, you’ll receive a downloadable replay of the event.

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Disclosure: The link in this post is an affiliate, which means I receive a small commission if you clicknpick. Affiliate link or not, my promise is to only recommend and link to resources I believe will add value to your life and/or work.


Let’s talk about the Future of Work


Enough about the past; let’s talk about the future of work.

How, when and where will we work? 21stCenturywork

We are already working full-time, part-time, on-demand, temporarily, once-in-awhile… from home, from our car, a train, plane or automobile and from across town or across the world. We work for free, for a fee, for ourselves, for the good of others, for learning and/or for the fun of it! We gain-share, bargain or are paid an hourly rate.

The speed of change is accelerating. Within a year or two, few people will ask the question we are asking.

The more you have to offer the changed market, the more choices you’ll have to work in any – or all – ways we have just highlighted.

The more you prepare to meet the demands of change, the more adaptable you’ll be. The more you will be able to accommodate swiftly moving life circumstances and interests.

What are a few of the most recent changes that have affected how, who and where some of us will work in Hawaii in the near future?

hand-1112469_1920First, take a look at the on-demand world and you’ll soon have help with everything from Spring Cleaning to furniture packing. Haven’t heard about the hundreds of on-demand companies in Hawaii? Take a look at how many home food delivery options are a short 808 call away. Want a glass of wine with your dinner? Google “home wine delivery – Honolulu.” Prepare to see well over 150 home delivery options. Your favorite food and wine will be on your table within 24 to 48 hours.

These, and many other firms are delivering services and goods in new ways that will affect you—including, how you work, where you might work, or… how you shop!

The tip of an iceberg of change is floating your way. Keep looking. A new option will emerge tomorrow or the very next day. We’ll keep you posted to many of the changes.

Speaking of changes… here’s one to watch: reasonably long-term jobs with a good company began to change in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. Such jobs are now only one way of working and if trends are to be believed, also diminishing in numbers.

The On-Demand, Hyper-Shift, Work from Anywhere Economy is here. Everyone is now a business – including you!

It’s time to learn how to run You, Inc.
But, it’s a bad idea to solo,
at least until you are ready to fly without a wing-man.

Ask us how we can help you to prepare for a future that matters. Let’s #makeworkbetter, ok?

Look us up on LinkedIn:  Carleen MacKay :: Rob Kinslow :: Fabian Lewis

Story of a Freelancer


Story of a Freelancer
by Carleen MacKay
:: Rob Kinslow

In our April 5th post, we introduced you to the new world of work, to “Freelancers,” or people who work on behalf of organizations when and wherever needed.

pexels-photoBy 2020, according to a raft of experts, 40%+ of American workers will be “freelancers” in all sectors of the economy. Other experts predict the number may be as high as 50% by 2020.

Situation: This is the story of a real-life person. Our freelancer is someone who migrated from a dozen years of full-time work where he had been designated the “Employee of the Year” to being laid-off and forced to taste the painful and “Unexpected Freedom” of freelancing.outsource-1345109_1280

Goal: Although he submitted resumes for numerous full-time editorial and corporate communications positions, the response rate was low to non-existent. He was further encouraged to pursue freelancing by the lack of interest among prospective new employers, who tended to view his extensive experience and knowledge, not as an asset but as a negative option. Especially, when considered against hiring recent college graduates for a fraction of the salary, our story-teller felt he wanted or his experience deserved. He discovered the world of hiring in the new decade is not about experience and capabilities, but about casting ones portfolio within the needs of prospective clients. He learned to explore and market for this new business of freelancing.

Actions: He undertook face-to-face networking activities, while simultaneously expanding his LinkedIn profile and building a network of 500+ contacts. He accepted freelance opportunities that did not pay well, simply in order to gain experience. He began building a portfolio of work samples.

As time went by, he became adept at turning in quality work on tight deadlines, which drew the attention of new clients. Soon he landed two or three “anchor clients,” giving him a solid foundation of steady work at a respectable wage which, in turn, led to several large-scale web content projects.

By the end of his first year as a freelancer, entrepreneur-696966_1920he began to reap the benefit of client recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals.

Consequences: Our freelancer is now established in a successful freelance business. Not only does he have the comfort of working from home, his daily schedule allows time to play tennis and swim laps at his neighborhood club. He is no longer dependent upon a single company for his earnings, but instead works regularly for a wide range of clients – most of whom he has never met in person and with whom he stays in contact via various online modes of communications.

Lesson: Our freelancer learned the value of persistence by making strong use of online platforms and staying in touch with prospective clients. She has become adept at establishing his brand, at creating sales documents, at maximizing his profile on LinkedIn as well as at leveraging various social connections online as well as in person. He learned to set boundaries to client requests for uncompensated hours in order to prove his worth. Eagerness to work should not be over-used to extract uncompensated commitments or outcomes.

Credible experts predict that the workplace may be dominated by Freelancers in the next decade. Here’s a snippet, summarizing these predictions, from Thomas Frey (

“Virtually any company that cannot find ways to do things more efficiently and reduce costs will not survive. Business colonies are an organic process of matching labor to projects for the exact duration of the contract.  No more, no less.”                                                                                                                        

Do you want to learn how to Freelance? Ask us for help!

Look us up on LinkedIn:  Carleen MacKay :: Rob Kinslow

Would you like to learn about another way to work in the 21st century?

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Future of Work


Did you know? The Future of Work is HERE and NOW…

Jobs are disappearing from the future of work

The world is saying no to many traditional jobs these days.  Take a look at the truth of Work. Ensure you have a Future of Work

  • No political party can promise you a job. At best, they attempt to create platforms that will encourage business success, thus (presumably) encouraging hiring.

  • No private sector organization will hire you full-time, if you’re not needed full-time.

  • No public sector organization or institution can afford to ignore their enormous pension debts by continuing to hire as they have in the past.

Layoffs are the future of work

  • No large company is any safer, than any smaller company in terms of providing job security. The Fortune’s 100 companies (the largest employers) have had more than double the number of layoffs than non-Fortune’s 100 companies.

  • No, invention is not a birthright. New technologies have created thousands of new jobs, while causing the loss of thousands.

Future of Work is YOU

  • No end is in sight for the economic unrest that the world is facing. Economic unrest works for and against “jobs” in this country as elsewhere.

  • If pension-less workers do not continue to work, in some capacity, later in life, our economic system will be challenged to cope.

  • No, we cannot afford to overlook the aging of America. There are millions of Americans age 65 and older. Put this in perspective, in the United States there are more people 65 and older than in each of the entire Canadian and Australian populations. This demographic will double by 2030. More than 30% of the US workforce is 50+ years young.

  • No, the U.S. workforce is no longer competitive in the high-demand areas of mathematics and the sciences. Our children are fragmented into the haves and have-nots; our boomers are under-prepared for new massively disruptive challenges, retirement requirements and longer work lifetimes.

What are you willing to do to win your battle for the Future of Work? Will you find new ways to work? Can you see opportunities embedded within the many threats? Will you dare to do something different than experience dictates?

Join us now, fasten your space-suits, summon your reserve of courage for there are many, and often better, ways to work beyond the old world of the familiar. Let us tell you the stories of the pioneers of the future who have turned tomorrow’s threats into today’s opportunities!

Visit us at NewWorkForceHawaii and explore stories of inspiration written just for YOU.

Or, contact us via our LinkedIn Profiles:

Carleen MacKay ::  Angelica Lewis :: Fabian Lewis :: Rob Kinslow

Leadership Learning from the Wheel

Movement Model of Behavior

Learning from the Wheel of Life
Figure 1: Movement Model of Behavior

Leadership Learning:

According to my Native heritage, teachings and wisdom, recognition of Our ancestors, who’ve prepared the path of life for us, must be acknowledged. My teachers and mentors inspired me to leadership. Our relationships can include those with those who have gone before and those yet to come. Honoring and acknowledging those on whose shoulders we stand, connecting and communicating with our past and future, are fundamental practices of sustainable development. Me, you, we are all a bridge between the ancestors and those yet to come. Leadership from Learning is key.

Figure 1 shows how you may exemplify leadership learning. Read more here, or connect with me on LinkedIn

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Return of the Frankenbill!

Hawaii State Capitol
Photo: Emily Metcalf

Most of us have heard of “Frankenstein,” a novel written in 1818 by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.  The story’s protagonist, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, created a creature by assembling bits and pieces from cadavers and then bringing it to life using some unexplained method.  (Mad scientists have to have their trade secrets!)

A “Frankenbill” or “Frankenstein bill” is one that is made by cobbling together bits and pieces of other bills, especially bills that have already died in our legislative process.  By engrafting those bits and pieces into a bill that is still alive in the process, those pieces are effectively given new life.

In our Legislature, the Senate passed an omnibus tax increase bill, Senate Bill 56, which we in this column have called the “Enola Gay” bill.  It contained massive increases in income tax, both individual and corporate; wholesale 2-year suspensions of exemptions in the general excise tax; and a hefty increase in the conveyance tax.

After a public uproar over the Enola Gay bill, leaders in the House of Representatives moved swiftly to stomp on the bill.  The House Speaker’s office gave the bill a quadruple referral, meaning it had to clear four different House committees in a relatively short time if it were to survive.  That made the bill as good as dead, according to House Majority Leader Belatti.  As of the Second Lateral deadline of March 25, none of the four House committees to which the bill was assigned had bothered to hear it.  That bill is now officially dead.

But, in a hearing notice released on March 25, the Senate Ways and Means Committee declared its intention to stuff some of the major pieces of Senate Bill 56 into House Bill 58, a bill that at the time of crossing over to the Senate only provided for the temporary reallocation of conveyance tax revenues to pay debt service that the State owes on its general obligation bonds.  The Proposed Senate Draft 1 of this bill contains new parts temporarily repealing the general excise tax exemptions and juicing up the conveyance tax for properties over $4 million. 

Another proposed new part would reduce the Hawaii estate tax threshold.  The estate tax threshold is the size of a decedent’s estate below which no estate tax is owed.  Once the threshold is passed, the estate tax ramps up very quickly.  In 2020, the Hawaii estate tax threshold is $5.49 million while the federal estate tax threshold is $11.58 million.  The bill would reduce the Hawaii threshold to $3.5 million.

According to the website of the good government organization Common Cause Hawaii:

[O]ur Legislature is not supposed to pass a bill which addresses 2 or more unrelated subjects, and is not supposed to pass a bill whose subject has not had 3 separate readings in the State House and 3 separate readings in the State Senate. The purpose is to ensure a fair process, where the public and legislators have time to review and comment on proposed legislation.

Unfortunately, legislators use deceptive practices such as “gut and replace”, when a bill is stripped of its original content and replaced with an unrelated bill’s contents, and “Frankenstein bills” which is when bills encompassing various subjects are cobbled together into one bill.

This new Frankenbill is scheduled to receive a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee on March 31st.  The hearing would have been held just before the publication date of this column.  What did our lawmakers do?  Did they create the Frankenbill, perhaps to be used as a bargaining chip in the waning days of this legislative session?  Did they stuff this bill or other bills with the stratospheric income tax increases that have brought us national and international attention, and not the good kind? 

Be informed!

Everyday Trousers for Extraordinary Times


Covid has impacted nearly every facet of our lives.

Even the way we dress.

According to Fast Company, the fashion industry revenues dropped about one third of last year. Nowadays people simply aren’t buying clothing in the quantities they used to.

There was an exception. Consumers have actually increased spending on “casual” and “active” wear.

Since we are not going to the office (nor too many other places) we don’t need Gucci or even more mainstream ‘business’ accoutrement if we’re conducting meetings in front of a screen.

What we do need is clothing that can be used in any number of environments. Whether it’s a hike up the Mau’umae trail atop Wilhelmina Rise or a visit to the Hawaii Kai Costco, we need clothing that’s both durable and practical.

The Evolution is a go anywhere pant that looks as good as it feels. The two-way stretch of the fabric will allow you to move quite freely.

Welcome to fashion in the Covid era.

Of course, the time will come when we all will be vaccinated and will want to board airplanes, congregate and socialize. In meantime it’s all about social distancing enjoying the great outdoors.

A new era for active wear

Back in the day people preparing to tour a national park might visit Eddie Bauer, LL Bean and the like to acquire the proper gear. While these giants of outdoor clothing are still with us, over the last decade or so a number of smaller companies that make specialized techwear or technical apparel, have entered the fray.

These firms, often mom and pop operations, design garments with special fabric, construction and properties that allow for breathability, movement, water-resistance and comfort. 

Both the Evolution and the AT Slim have water resistant fabric. Better living through chemistry…

Western Rise, founded by former outdoor guides, Kelly and Will Watters certainly falls into that category. In the bad old days, according to Watters, “Clothing options were sport-specific, over branded, and fit poorly so we carried multiple changes of clothing for each activity throughout the day.”

The Watters decided to address this by founding a clothing line built for durability and comfort that can be used for nearly every occasion.

Unlike an REI or a North Face, Western Rise (which is of course much smaller) carries a focused range of bottoms, tops and accessories such as socks. As one reviewer put it, “they focus on quality over quantity”.  

They only make four types of pants–all with slightly different applications.  

The philosophy is to put all your marbles into a limited product line and produce something stellar.

What a delightful concept.

The Evolution has a 5 pocket pattern, not unlike a jean but definitely a sleeker look.

The Evolution

I had the opportunity to look at two Western Rise products–the most formal, the Evolution, and the most casual, the Diversion.

I live in Hawaii and spend a great deal of time in Fiji so having a pant that is light, breathable and moisture wicking is paramount. This is how Western Rise describes the Evolution pant (which retails at $149) and why I chose to evaluate it.

You can literally wear them anywhere, whether it’s a business meeting (which I admit are few and far between nowadays) or a foray over to the rifle range.

The Evolution and the Diversion have zippers in their back pockets which make them ideal for travel. (This is the Evolution pant.)

And yes, they are sturdy enough to bring on the trail but they should not to be construed as hiking pants.

Think of them as a very refined, non-denim, five pocket jean. The material is soft to the touch, a bit stretchy and perfectly tailored.

On the Evolution line they offer a “regular” or a slim version.

If you’re a bit bulkier go for the regular which has plenty of room and enough stretch in the fabric to do just about anything you want. They are not baggy by any means but tend to drape over your lower extremities, feeling much like a nice pair of suit pants.

I’m on the short side and the inseam is pretty much fixed so I did have to hem the pants. Not the end of the world but you need to know that unless you’re  5’11 to 6’2 you’ll have to see your favorite seamstress.

Then there’s the waist.

It’s often a pain in the rear end when it comes to finding pants that will fit my skinny (I’m about a 29 1/2″) waist. The 30 inch was a it tad too big with the Evolution but perfect with the Diversion.

Tthe Evolution pant has more of a straight leg look that kind of drapes over you, not unlike a suit pant.

The Acid Test

I wore the Evolution non stop for several weeks and found them very comfortable. This was during Hawaii’s winter, which this year was quite humid. The pants did breathe as the promised. They have the lightest of the entire line and work well in our climate.

They are offered in khaki, navy, olive, charcoal, blue grey and shadow. I have the olive, a rich color that is more than presentable in every situation I encountered.

I haven’t taken them to Fiji (yet) but plan on doing so when it’s possible. They do have a nice travel asset–a zipper on right rear pocket, perfect for stashing your passport and perhaps some Yankee dollars. The right front change pocket is actually big enough to park your cell phone.

Talk about casual? That’s why I like my Diversion pants. With a four-way stretch in the fabric, they offer more latitude. (The Evolution is better suited for more formal settings).

Diversion (Slim Pant)

The main differences I could ascertain between the Diversion and the Evolution are the fit and the fabric, which is slightly heavier on the former. Another difference: The Diversion pants (which retail for $138) have a four-way stretch vs. Evolution’s two-way.

The stretchier fabric provides a slightly softer feel.

Their slimmer, tapered fit will “embrace” your legs and are reminiscent of the “pegged pants” of yesteryear. For me the tapered fit is excellent.

I can get away with wearing these and at the risk of not sounding humble, they do flatter my body. What the heck? If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

You can get them in flat black, dune and grey.

Both styles of pants (this is the Evolution) feature a change pocket that will handle your cell phone.

As with the Evolution pants, I wore them everywhere (except on the trail). I preferred them a bit to the Evolution pants only because I usually operate in a more casual world.

But that’s just my sense of aesthetics.

What about Travel?

As a travel writer I’m always thinking in terms of what I should be taking with me on the road or, to wear on an airplane. Both are excellent for this purpose but Evolution has a leg up if you want to look dressy.

Got to have the right physique for these slim Diversions. Reminds me of the pegged pants that the “cool guys” would wear many moons ago. They are extremely comfortable and excellent for travel duty.

Seated in business class, no problem looking the part. They are refined enough that you’ll “pass” as a pillar of the community. 

The Diversion also has a zippered pocket (right rear) for keeping your passport or money secure.

Interwoven with elastane, the double-weave canvas on the Diversion has four-way stretch and drape. It’s rugged enough to handle any activity and has a “self-cleaning” water repellant.

It should be noted that Western Rise also makes an AT Slim pant which has the heaviest fabric of all and their Spectrum Jogger, for around the house–not a as good a prospect for travel.

The AT Slim is best described as something you’d wear at or around town but not as dressy as the Evolution. (Somewhere in between Evolution and Diversion).

I think it would also be a great travel candidate–it has the zipper back pocket as well. If you’re shopping for durability, this is the one Western Rise promotes.

In summary, a lot of thought and “engineering” has gone into the Western Rise lines. They are a testament to minimalism. You don’t need a dozen different pants in your closet (or in your suitcase) to look like a million bucks, at home or on the road.

Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and (He appreciates a good pair of pants).

Maintenance of Effort, Part 2


A little more than a month ago, we ranted on about Senate Bill 815, the “maintenance of effort” bill, that would ensure funding for the Department of Education (DOE).

After some refinement after going through several legislative committees, it now works like this.  The bill creates a “public education stabilization trust fund.”  If the appropriations to DOE in any legislative session are lower than the appropriations to DOE in the preceding legislative session, then the difference is scooped out of general excise tax collections and dropped into the fund.  DOE can then spend the money in the fund to make up for the funding shortfall.  (Which means the fund is not really a trust fund, but a special fund, under criteria being applied by the State Auditor.)

DOE, which is strongly supporting the bill, argues that there are many federal acts and grant programs, including the CARES Act, which themselves have maintenance of effort requirements.  In other words, if the State does not maintain a consistent funding level for education, the federal government will reduce or eliminate its funding.  “This measure would safeguard the Department’s ability to fulfill these obligations,” DOE testified.

The maintenance of effort requirements in the CARES Act are imposed by section 18008 of the Act, which apply to both Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) grants and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants authorized by the Act.  The U.S. Department of Education stated that a State can demonstrate support of education in different ways.  USDOE said that it is purposely leaving he statutory term “support for higher education” undefined by regulations so that States have flexibility in determining how it is satisfied. 

Other federal education statutes have maintenance of effort requirements, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for the support of individuals with disabilities.  Even there, the law and regulations have flexibility in the way States can satisfy the requirements and have a mechanism by which the State can apply for waiver of the requirements for reasonable cause, such as a precipitous decline in resources following a natural disaster.[1]

The maintenance of effort provisions of IDEA were enacted at the end of 2004.[2] In other words, those provisions have been around for more than 16 years and it does not seem that Hawaii has had a problem following them.  No budgetary trickery like the  gimmick proposed in SB 815 was needed to comply with the maintenance of effort requirements in IDEA.  The USDOE’s guidance shows that no gimmick is required to satisfy the CARES Act either.

The HSTA, however, in its testimony in support of the bill, argues that the budget gimmick is not only necessary, but doesn’t go far enough.  It notes that part of the bill would allow the Governor to suspend the maintenance of effort requirements if we have a sudden and severe decline in revenue; exceptional circumstances like a natural disaster; or a sharp decline in student enrollment.  HSTA wants the suspension provisions out of the bill, arguing that the only time the bill would be needed is when there is an economic downturn.  (Although the underlying message seems to be that they want everyone except them to suffer during economic calamity.)

The reality is that future legislatures are not, and cannot be, bound to the budgeting decisions of today. If a future legislature really wants to lower the budget of the Department of Education, perhaps in a year like this one where there simply is not enough money to go around, it can repeal the provisions introduced by this bill. The mechanisms in this bill are not necessary, and they complicate and obfuscate the budgeting process.  And if we do enact them, we create a precedent for other departments to follow.  Perhaps the Department of Health would be sponsoring a similar bill next year, the University of Hawaii in the following year, and the Department of Human Services in the year after that. 

With that said, do we need to make budgeting more difficult by enacting a bill like this?

[1] See, for example, 20 USC section 1412(a)(18); 34 CFR section 300.163.

[2] Pub. L. No. 108-446, 118 Stat. 2647, 2688.

Two for the trail, home or the road from Fjällräven


In this country, the Swedish outdoor equipment concern, Fjällräven, is not (yet) a household name. In Europe, it’s long been an iconic brand, analogous to Patagonia.

Founded in 1960 by Åke Nordin in the basement of his parent’s home in Örnsköldsvik, on Sweden’s High Coast, the company has sold products in the US for a number of years. Pronounced “F-yah’ll-rah-ven” (which means as ‘Arctic Fox’) its products are sold in over 40 countries.

Like others in the outdoor clothing industry, Fjällräven is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Fair Labor Association — industry-wide groups of leading clothing and footwear companies and NGOs. They share information and best practices, and work towards reducing the environmental and social impacts of their industry, worldwide. This is an important point because the pants I reviewed in this article were made in Vietnam.

The tailoring on the Abisko Midsummer Trousers has a very appealing European look. You can really wear this pant anywhere.

Fjällräven tends to be more expensive than domestic brands but so are Mercedes or BMW. It’s the same principal, you get what you pay for. (More on that later).

With the advent of Covid, where sales of garments have generally diminished, Fjällräven and other outdoor manufacturers have seen an increase in sales.  

It’s no wonder. People are spending more time “recreating” outdoors and since consumers of a certain demographic have more disposable income, they’re not adverse to dropping a few more bucks on good quality, brand name gear.

Fjällräven translates from the Swedish as “Artic Fox”

That dynamic has resulted in a windfall  for the Swedish company, not to mention higher end domestic manufacturers.

Checking out Fjällräven “product”

Full disclosure. I’ve always had a kind of infatuation with European sports clothing ever since I was kid. My father had an old ski jacket from Germany which had a kind of timeless aesthetic.

Fjällräven embodies that same kind of classic feel. A company representative I spoke to described it this way, “Fjällräven isn’t the most technical brand, but rather an experiential brand and touching and feeling the brand is important to allow users (their customers) to fall in love with the heritage and products.”

The Abisko Midsummer Trousers is are both durable and impeccably made.

Fjällräven makes all kinds of stuff—bags, tents, backpacks, and a host of men’s and women’s apparel. It’s not that the company doesn’t use space age materials for their products and doesn’t do R&D like any company but they would rather be known for making durable, practical products rather than gimmicky “technical” stuff.

Case and point: On the “Fjall” website you can read about “Grandma’s Jacket” a decade’s old Fjällräven garment which was passed down to a younger generation family member:

Fjällräven is built for guys (and gals) who really do make it out to places like the Arctic Circle–for serious outdoors people. The description on the website describes one of their garments as “Comfortable and warm hunting trousers”.

The fabric on the knees (beginning with the front pocket area) and butt are a slightly darker tone than the other fabric.  The darker material is a rip stop fabric which helps prevent egregious damage if you get a tear in those areas.  

I’m not a hunter but I like a company that doesn’t worry about sounding politically correct about their trousers.

Trail and road testing

I was able to test drive out two pair pants. Like others responding to the Covid era, I wanted something that I could use in another number of circumstances whether hiking the Mau’umae trail above my home, walking the dog or even venturing into Costco. And yes, I could even wear the pants (or not) at a Zoom meeting. 

Of course, like everyone else, you  want something that looks cool and lasts.  

One last caveat. Keep in mind that I live in Hawaii thus the pants I’ve reviewed would be considered lightweight and suitable for either summer on the mainland or tropical climes.

On the hem of the pants is a drawstring much like you’d find on a pair of US Army (ACU) trousers.

Fjällräven describes its Abisko Midsummer Trousers as “Light, well-ventilated and packable trekking trousers. Perfect for warm climates.”

That pretty much sums things up which makes them ideal for the Aloha State. The material called G-1000 Air Stretch is a combination of cotton and recycled polyester (made from old plastic bottles!) with a wee bit of stretch. The knees are articulated and the crotch is gusseted. Both add strength to the design and allow for movement.

According to Fjällräven the material is “strong, resilient, quick drying and moisture wicking.”

If you’re hiking or climbing these are ideal. 

The pants will both allow you to high step or move as you like and are super breathable so even on a humid day in Suva, you’ll be able to move and groove with the best of them. There are even a couple of zippers on the thighs that you can open up, almost down to your knee, and let the air flow through your pants.

The slightly more tapered High Coast Lite Trousers are light and quick-drying, suitable for everyday use and travelling in warm climates.

On the hem of the pants is a drawstring much like you’d find on a pair of US Army trousers. Thus if you put your hiking or climbing boots on your pants won’t slip down over the back of your heels. Just cinch them down. You don’t have to roll them up.

Another interesting design facet is that the fabric on the knees and butt are a slightly darker tone than the other fabric. How come? That’s a rip stop material so if you do get a rip in these spots it will prevent excess damage. The pants are impeccably made as mentioned above, in Vietnam.

Travelers will appreciate that there are three zippered pockets (left, right and right thigh) so that you can keep your valuables safely stashed. There’s also a cargo type pocket with two snaps on the left hand thigh. Inside the right hand thigh pocket is a mini mesh pouch for change, keys or whatever so you don’t have fish them out of the larger compartment.

I have say something about the fit. I’m ecstatic about it. I have a “compact” frame and compared to most guys a tiny waist—29 inches. It’s nearly impossible to find a 29 inch waist in a typical American size but not so with the European scheme of things. Suffice to say, these pants fit me perfectly. Note that these trousers also come in a (new) zip off version so that you can easily convert them into shorts.

The back end of the High Coast Lite trousers have pockets with snaps.

Another option for light hiking/everyday “summer” trousers are the High Coast Lite Trousers which the company describes as Light, quick-drying stretch trousers for everyday use and travelling in warm climates.

Again, well said Fjällräven. Constructed with the same G-1000 Air Stretch cotton and recycled polyester material, these are not called “Lite” for nothing. There are five pockets, two standard front and  back plus a fifth on the side of your right thigh. It’s too small for a passport or a mobile device but you can stash a credit card, change or keys.

For that reason I don’t think they are ideal to get on an airplane with but if you don’t need a zipper for a hike you’ll be just fine. Like the Abisko Midsummer Trousers they have a drawstring. All of the inner pockets on both pants are constructed with mesh so they are going to be durable.

There’s a small zippered pocket on the right leg to stash your credit card, bills or coins but not too much else.

The High Coast Lite Trousers  have a cleaner, leaner (more tapered) look than the Abiskos which make them a bit better for every day use. However, if you wanted to throw them in your bag as hiking pants or as spare run-around trousers they will not take up much room nor will they weigh you down. They also have the advantage of drying rapidly.

And yes, these trousers fit me like a proverbial glove.

If you want to hike or hang out with your sophisticated European cousins, you’re not going to go wrong with Fjällräven.

Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and (He also likes crossover wear).

National Attention!


We in Hawaii are getting national (and some international) attention.

But not the good kind.

Witness an editorial from the Wall Street Journal that was published on March 12, 2021, titled “Confiscation in Paradise:  Move to Hawaii, pay the nation’s highest state income-tax rate.”

The state Senate voted Tuesday to raise the top income-tax rate to 16% from 11%. This would leap above the 13.3% California takes from its highest earners, or the 12.7% that New York City dwellers pay. Oh, and Hawaii’s top rate would kick in at a mere $200,000 of income. It would also slam many small business owners who pay taxes at the individual rate. As if they haven’t suffered enough during the Covid lockdowns.

The bill would also raise Hawaii’s capital-gains tax to 11% from 7.25%, a blow that will fall heavily on the state’s retirees. The top rate on corporations and real-estate investment trusts would rise to 9.6% from 6.4%. Legislators are shaking every conch shell in a mad grab for new revenue. …

Hawaii’s new tax increases would supposedly last through 2027, taking far more out of the economy than needed to make up for a sluggish 2020. But “temporary” tax hikes almost always become permanent as politicians rush to spend the new revenue and refuse to cut spending when the higher tax rates are set to expire.

The comments of the Wall Street Journal are not alone.  Other news services around the country also are commenting on features of the “Enola Gay” bill, Senate Bill 56, a previous version of which we discussed just a couple of weeks ago.  There were stories, for example, in U.S. News & World Report, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Shine, an English-language news service in China related to the Shanghai Daily.

According to a 2017 article by the Brookings Institution, the overwhelming majority of businesses are not C corporations subject to the corporate income tax.  About 95% are in passthrough entity form where the business owners, rather than the business entity, are taxed at their individual income tax rates.  So, a steep hike in the individual income tax will fall upon businesses, and we can expect that the tax bite swiftly will be reflected in the prices of goods and services that those businesses provide.  Lots more of us will feel the bite than just “the rich.”

And even if people directly affected by the tax hikes can’t pass them on, another option they have is to “get out of Dodge” – jump on a plane and move somewhere else.  Our state population in the past few years has been going down, not up, and a study from the American Legislative Exchange Council sums it up by saying:  “Unless high-tax states mend their ways, low-tax with pro-growth policies will benefit from the resulting flow of capital and people.”  The result?  “Data clearly shows that low tax burdens enhance a state’s chances of performing well economically…. On the other hand, a high tax burden reduces a state’s chances of performing well.  Of course, other policy variables impact economic performance, but tax burden is most consequential.”

With all of these prospects for negative economic consequences, do we really want to be in the national spotlight for having the absolute, tip-top, undisputed first place ranking for the highest tax rates imposed on individuals?

C’mon, Let’s Soak the Rich!


In the couple of weeks before the Legislature’s “First Decking” deadline, legislators were hearing tax-related bills, not only the “Enola Gay” bill we discussed last week.  Different tax increase bills of all stripes were being considered.  The testimony in response to those bills, interestingly, contained relatively few lamentations from a beleaguered public weary of tax increases.

Rather, many testifiers were in support.

There were those who sought to punish those who were surviving – a kind of crabs-in-the-bucket argument.  “It makes sense to ask those who are fortunate enough to be doing well in this economy to pay more,” one testifier said, “in order to close the deficit without slashing the critical government services that so many struggling working families have come to rely on.”  Ah, so struggling working families have an entitlement?  “It is time for Hawai’i to tax the rich,” another said.  As if our government doesn’t do that already.

Other testifiers phrased it in terms of a moral imperative.  “These changes are needed to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share,” said one.  “By asking the wealthy and profitable corporations to pay their fair share in taxes, we can prevent cuts to essential services and protect our communities,” exhorted another.

Another went into more detail, saying that the tax increases were directed at “higher earning individuals and companies, many of whom have experienced no job loss and even profited over the past year with stock market gains and Hawaiʻi’s surging real estate prices.  The wealthy and corporations also got significant tax breaks at the federal level in 2017, and can afford to share more in state-level taxes.”  Whether a particular taxpayer was wealthy or a corporation seemed to be enough to trigger the testifier’s ire, even though that taxpayer may have had overall losses for the year like many of us have had, may or may not have taken advantage of the so-called 2017 tax breaks, and might not have had any real estate or stock market gains to speak of.  This kind of argument results when generalizations are layered on top of other generalizations.  Its connection with reality fades with each additional layer.

Instead, consider this, proponents of tax hikes.  Suppose your tax hikes snag a rich person.  Do you seriously think that this person will just stand there and take the hit?  Here are some of the things that such a person can do.

If the person is rich because he or she runs or has influence over a business, the prices of goods or services that business offers can be expected to rise.  This is especially true if lots of people in similar industries are affected by the hike.  If, for example, doctors are asked to cough up tens of thousands more per head in taxes, it won’t be long before the price of health care in Hawaii goes up.  That bite will then be felt by much more than just the person the tax hikes are aimed at.

If the person is sufficiently fed up with, or otherwise can’t handle, the tax climate in Hawaii, he or she can get on a plane.  A business can close its local branches.  Our declining population numbers over the last several years and the increasing number of business closures tell us that this is not just theory.  So, what happens when the cost of government is the same or greater but the number of persons paying that cost drops?  The cost of government increases for those of us who are left.

In any event, taxing the “rich” can’t be viewed in isolation.  Taking lots of money out of the economy through the tax system will have a ripple effect that will be felt by everyone.  It’d be like shooting yourself in the foot.  So, the next time you hear the argument, “Soak the rich!” ask yourself if this really is the path we want to tread.

Tactical Everyday Wear from VERTX


Covid-19 has upended just about everything.

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to work out of our homes, meeting primarily via Zoom, there’s no longer the need to “dress up”.  Sure, you need to look presentable, but there’s no reason to be a clothes’ horse.

Your days of spending money at Nordstrom are mercifully over.  

In other words, the pandemic has transformed our relationship with clothing.

Essentially, we’re buying fewer garments. According to a recent piece in Fast Company, fashion industry revenues dropped in the neighborhood of one third last year. Consumers were choosier but increased spending on “casual wear” and “active wear”.

In the active apparel department crossover wear–clothing that can be used in any number of environments has become an important niche. Whether it’s a hike up Tantalus, a BBQ (whenever that becomes possible) or a visit to Costco you’ll want something that’s durable and practical.

Looking halfway decent is always a nice thing to consider as well.

Plenty of room for your mobile device and other gear. (Yes, it does help to be in good shape).

Over the last few years I’ve been writing a great deal about Crossover wear and one of the brands I’ve come to like is VERTX. Owned by famed investor Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, the 175 year old company was, and still is, known primarily as a manufacturer of tactical clothing. (During WWII they made a lot of government issue uniforms).

They still manufacture military and law enforcement garments used by real “operators”. Because the clothing is designed to allow law enforcement professionals to blend in, you can wear them casually, without looking like a soldier of fortune wannabe.

You’re not going to find these pants for sale in a boutique but that’s not where I shop. The point is, you won’t feel self-conscious wearing their covert line of pants. They are stylish too. You won’t be mistaken for a security guard at Walmart. 

The Grip has 14 pockets but they are not that readily apparent. Thank goodness. There are two cargo-like pockets just beneath the model’s hands that would work for documents.

Their products are priced upper to mid-range—from $60-85. What you get, for paying a little more, is something that will last. These garments that are over engineered like Swiss or German machinery.

They have recently come out with a couple of new products that are ideal for the Coivd era.

VERTX describes that Grip pant ($69.99) as “The look of workwear, the feel of your favorite casual pant”. I agree, although I’d say it’s a cross between work and casual.

Constructed in a lightweight, stretch broken twill it will highlight your better features while allowing you to hike or work in the garden with them. Or, perhaps carry out a covert operation. The fabric’s feel is nice and soft. Very comfortable.

The Cutback SF is slightly slimmer and more stylish than the Grip, so if you have an athletic body, you can flaunt it. (You can also get a “normal” Cutback that is not tailored to a slim physique).

It has (count em) 14 pockets but thank the Lord it does not look like some overly pocketed cargo pant. As the website says, “Grip Pants blend into the crowd without censoring your style.”

Here are the construction highlights:

  • Athletic fit provides low-profile silhouette
  • Full gusseted crotch and four-way stretch allows greater range of motion
  • Brass YKK® locking zipper
  • Contoured higher back rise
  • 8 belt loops are 0.875-inch wide and fit up to 1.75-inch belts
  • Front pockets are reinforced to reduce wear and tear
  • All heavy-wear seams are double-stitched
  • Bar tacks or YKK® rivets at critical stress points

I can live with that.

Got an AR-15 magazine to stash? No problem with the Grip or the Cutback. There’s another similar pocket on the other side where you can slip your EDC flashlight or, another magazine.

The other style I like is the Cutback SF ($79.99), which VERTX describes as “Streamlined Urban Camouflage”.

I can dig that.

The Cutback actually comes in two versions, the SF (the slim cut) or the “original” Cutback. If you have a physique that can accommodate the slimmer Cutback SF, I would suggest you get that one. It’s going to look better on you. If not the original will serve you well.

For reference sake, a comparison of beltloops. Cutback SF featured on top vs. a more conventional pant from Western Rise on the bottom. This is an example of the “over engineering”, which you’d expect for operators’ use.

The Cutback SF is a bit slimmer than the Grip , and is definitely more stylish. It “only” has 7 pockets. I would suggest that there are plenty of places to stash your credit cards, money, cellphone, passport, etc.

I could totally see these pants used for travel (once that becomes in vogue again) because of the pockets designed to accommodate passports, money, and whatever else you wish to hide.

You can even take these to the range and no doubt be the best dressed on the firing line.

I like the SF design because they really can be construed as casual even if they are built for LE men (or women). The slim tailoring will also blend in with the crowd.

As the VERTX website says, “On the job or out for some R&R you can depend on the Cutback SF for low-profile preparedness, because when you’re on the streets, you never know what could be around the corner.” (Maybe a Tinder date?)

The deep mesh pockets (featured on both styles) are a nice touch.

Here are the features:

  • 7 pockets keep tools and essentials at the ready
  • Deep front pockets are made of soft highly-breathable mesh
  • Watch pocket in right front pocket
  • Right front pocket has pass-through slots for comms lead or a RATS tourniquet
  • Dual angled rear yoke pockets fit standard smart phones and rifle mags
  • Wallet traps in both rear pockets keep wallet or passport secure
  • 5 mini stash pockets let you pre-load key items from 1.75 to 2.25 inches long
  • Keyring and lanyard anchor point in both front pockets
  • Concealed DropLoop pass-through in each belt loop for flexible restraints or reinforced tether points for lanyards or gear
  • 320D Cordura® reinforcements on watch and rear yoke pocket openings and cuff kickplates

The bottom line is that these pants are both sturdy and have a modicum of elegance. Both are equally comfortable but the Cutback fabric does not have quite the soft feel of the Grip. (It consists of Stretch 6.2 oz. 40% Cotton/ 27% Polyester T400/ 25% 37.5® Polyester twill).

Both and utilize VaporCore a technology that VERTX claims will keep you cool, dry and smelling nice. (It controls odor).

A testament to the durability of VERTX garments: Been wearing the above pants (which are now dedicated to garden duties) for 5 years.

What’s not to like?

One of the over-engineered components are the the mesh pockets (on both pants) which appear to be very durable. Ditto with the massive and numerous belt loops which you could probably hang out of a helicopter with. (Don’t try it though…).

You’ll also have a full range of movement—you’ll be able to squat, run, kneel, etc. And they will last a long time.

These are truly everyday wear that you can travel or, you can head out on the trail with. Easy to stash your cell phone in one side pocket and your EDC flashlight in the other.

I have been using VERTX products for a number of years (see above photo) and can attest to their longevity. For everyday wear, you can’t beat ’em. If you can use them for a covert mission, that’s a bonus.

Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and (He also likes crossover wear).

Resurrecting an iconic target pistol–Sig Sauer’s “New Improved” P210 Target


It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Sig Sauer P210 is the most sought after 9mm target pistol in existence. It started its life, humbly enough, as the sidearm for the Swiss Army and police in 1949. Not exactly a Hollywood sendoff, but the Swiss are not generally flashy types. They are however, precision engineers who know a thing or two about metallurgy and design. (Ever heard of Swiss watches?)

This gun is so well engineered that to this day, it’s still considered the gold standard for accuracy and reliability in 9mm. It’s capable of getting two inch groups at 50 yards, which is no mean feat for any handgun, much less a 9mm semi-auto.

I was first introduced to the P210 a few years ago when I spent an afternoon shooting a Swiss-made model at Kokohead Range. I was immediately smitten by its balance and trigger.

The older models are not easy to find and you’ll spend a minimum of $3000 for the privilege of owning one. The good news is that the P210 is now being manufactured in this country with prices starting at around $1600. (More on that later).


Charles Gabriel Petter’s Modèle 1935 pistol–progenitor of the P210. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Development for the gun began before the Second World War with the idea of replacing the venerable Luger Parabellum 06/29, which had been in service since 1900. It was originally licensed from French-Swiss designer Charles Gabriel Petter’s Modèle 1935 pistol.

Fans of plastic guns will definitely find this gun alte Schule–old school. You won’t find any tritium or fiber optics on the P210, just a post and notch. The magazine catch on the original model is at the heel of the frame—which is where they put them in the good old days.

It’s a single-action pistol, with a magazine capacity of eight rounds of 9 mm, 7.65 mm, or .22 LR. (The new Target model has a capacity of 10 rounds). The slide and frame are machined from blocks of steel, which makes it heavy side but durable and of course, more expensive to produce than the modern “wonder nines”.

One of the P210’s unusual features is that the slide is seated inside the frame rails rather than on the outside as is generally found on pistols derived from John Browning’s design.

American Incarnation of the P210

Understanding the demand for this item, management at Sig Sauer decided in 2010 to produce a new version manufactured in Eckernförde, Germany instead of the SIG plant in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland, where the gun was traditionally made.

The mag release button is one of the key improvements over the original model which had the mechanism on the heel of the frame. 

However, Swiss and German made goods tend to be quite expensive in this country. In January, 2016 SIG Sauer announced they would move production of the P210 to their Exeter, NH, factory. This is not one of these deals where the firearm is assembled from parts made overseas. All the parts, with the exception of the grips, will be made in the USA. (The German factory will continue to product P210s for the European market).

The P210 Target model is one of two versions released in this country. The other is the P210 Standard which has different grips and sights.

The company also plans to release a US-made Super Target, a 4″ Carry version and the Standard (5″ barrel with fixed sights) models all in 2018.

The trigger breaks at 3.5 lbs and is superb.

Although the latest incarnation of the P210 resembles its Swiss Army predecessor, the manufacturer made a few visible tweaks. Instead of the old fashioned magazine catch, the new version uses a button-style, frame magazine catch. There’s also an elongated ‘beavertail’ much like those found on 1911 and SIG Sauer Elite pistols. There’s also a modern looking slide catch and 1911-esque safety.

Tim Butler, Sig Sauer’s product manager, told me that while the U.S.-made models will share the same DNA as the European models, there are differences.

In the “same DNA department”, all U.S. models will use the controls designed after the German version of the Super Target pistol.

The rear sight adjustments are crisp and easily manageable. Just a screw diver will suffice.

Butler said the U.S. and German version differ with barrel lock up. The Swiss and German P210s use a traditional, multiplelug barrel design (as in the 1911 Browning Hi-Power). The U.S. barrel locks up in the ejection port the same as SIG Classic pistol, the P220, P225j, P226, etc.

The reason for the design change was because of a manufacturing process. In order to manufacture the 1911 lockup in a six inch slide you enter from the front with a very long tool to cut the lugs. The distance causes deflection with the cutting tool and could cause potential dimensional inaccuracy. Thus changing to the lock-up improved the manufacturer’s ability to hold the tight tolerances needed without extensive barrel fitting.

The slide on the P210 sits inside the frame. Slide to frame fit is phenomenal.  Amazing they can do this on a production gun.

One thing you notice straight away after field stripping the gun is how incredibly precise the slide to frame fit is. Just moving the slide along the rails you note there’s hardly any lateral movement. The tolerances are very tight yet the slide glides effortlessly. Same with the barrel to slide fit. Very little wiggle. There is no way you can achieve the same kind of fit on a 1911 with out the efforts of a gunsmith.

It amazes me that that Sig Sauer can do this is on a production gun and keep the costs reasonable.

The hammer box was also modified for the U.S. iteration. The hammer box is where the hammer and sear are housed alone with supporting parts for the function. Butler said that for the the U.S. version “we added adjustability that is set at the factory and non-user adjustable. This was done to eliminate hand fitting of components.”

Sig Sauer’s factory Elite V-Crown 124 gr. JHP ammo is extremely accurate. If you don’t handload, this is the ticket.

The Target version, which I tested, has a 5″ barrel, adjustable rear sight, magazine with a metal base plate and a target-style grip with a palm swell that is ergonimically correct. MSRP is $1600 for the 5″ barrel and $1800 for the 6″ model. Street price is in the $1500 range. (The European versions are $2100 and $3200 respectively). (The “Super Target” will have additional modifications including a 6 inch barrel, a 1911-style thumb safety and wood grips with integral magwell funneling).

Shooting the Sig P210

So why is this pistol, which began its life in the midst of the Second World War, so accurate and well balanced? (We know it wasn’t built with space age materials nor designed with Cad/Cam).

There are a couple of reasons but the first that jumps out at me is the very low bore axis which helps make it intrinsically easier to aim.

A short explanation. “Bore axis” refers to the relationship between the barrel of the handgun and the shooter’s hand. Thus a “high” bore axis means that the barrel is positioned high above the top of the hand and “low” bore axis means, that it’s closer.

I managed to get this group off the bench (at 25 yards) the first time out using the Sig Elite V-Crown ammo.  It illustrates the enormous potential of the P210.

So what’s the advantage?

First off is recoil management. The closer the slide is to your closed grip, the more energy you’re going to absorb and hence, and the less muzzle flip you’ll have.

Thus low bore axis means less movement and easier target recovery. If you’re shooting hot 9mm loads, exaggerated muzzle flip is especially noticeable. Therefore, the lower the bore axis the less perceived recoil and the less snap-back. In the case of the Sig P210 what also helps steady the gun even more is its old fashioned steel construction. The added mass makes it even less prone to flip than a plastic gun.

The other benefit to low bore axis with this gun, is superb balance. It doesn’t feel “top-heavy”. Aiming the gun feels quite natural.

My go-to load for the 115 gr Zero bullet is 5.4 gr of Silhouette powder. This was shot off the bench at 25 yards.

If you combine the low bore axis, “pointability”, a truly great trigger and some shooting chops, the equation equals great accuracy. I was able to pick up the P210 and begin shooting really good groups fairly soon. The key of course, was squeezing the trigger just so. There’s a bit of takeup follow by a crisp, dependable break at 3.5 lbs.

Feeding the Sig P210

Of course, you’re not going to shoot good groups without the right ammo. Since the P210 is one of the most accurate production handguns in the world, I though I would do it justice by testing both factory and hand loads. The 124 gr. factory rounds came from Sig Sauer, which several years ago branched into the ammo business to complement their “hardware”. We tested two varieties–of 124 gr. ammo: their full metal jacket, Elite Ball and their jacketed hollow point, V-Crown cartridges.

The applications? Elite Ball is more for practice. The V-Crown is listed as defensive ammo but it’s extremely accurate and makes a great target round. I’ve used it up to 100 yards, consistently whacking an 8 inch gong with my red-dot mounted 9mm 1911. Admittedly, it’s harder to do with the Sig P210 which of course only comes with iron sights.

The Elite Ball ammo is less expensive and also quite accurate, but not in the same league the hollow-point.

The 115 gr. JHP from Zero is bullet is nasty accurate.

Handloading–Beginning at Zero

For this exercise I started with Zero bullets, the brand name product from a company called Roze Distribution out of Cullman, Alabama. A family owned business, Roze has a well deserved reputation for manufacturing quality products at a very reasonable price. I’ve used their Zero bullets for years–158 gr hollow points for my 357, 148 gr wadcutters for my .38 and in this case, 115 gr and 124 gr jacketed hollow points for the Sig P210.

Zero bullets are not as expensive as other products but their quality is definitely commensurate with Nosler, Barnes and the other high-end competition.

If you want accuracy, use brass that will give you consistent quality. Starline is my favorite.

For the brass component, I use Starlinewhich I’ve load with great accuracy both for 9 mm and .45 loads.

A word to the wise, if you’re going to shoot a handgun as accurate as the P210, use a high end brand of brass. With scrounged range brass you’re using a jumble of headstamps, all with slightly different dimensions and varying quality. Buy definition, every round you crank out will be slightly different in size and it’s impossible to make uniformly consistent ammo.

That means your accuracy will suffer and there’s no reason to handicap yourself. Spend a few bucks and you’ll notice a world of difference. You’ll also thank yourself.

True Blue worked well with Zero’s 124 gr hollow point bullet. Meters great too. 

There are many great powders on the market that work well with the 9mm such as Titegroup, 231, HS-6 and the like. My go-to powders for 9mm are Silhouette (for 115 gr HP) and True Blue which works great for 124 gr HP. Both are from Western Powders.

Prior to this article I’d done a great deal of experimentation with both of the above products with a 9 mm 1911 and these particular powders proved to be just as effective with the P210–even at 50 yards.

The True Blue load I used for the 124 gr Zero bullet was 5.6 gr.  The Silhouette load for the 115 gr HP  Zero bullet was 5.4 gr.

After shooting hundreds of rounds of both 124 and 115 gr handloads I would have to say that the P210 “preferred” the 115 gr bullets over the 124 gr. It was consistently easier for me to get good groups with the former.

That said, the gun performed equally well with the 124 gr Elite factory ammo from Sig. I simply could not get the same performance out of my 124 gr handloads. (Back to the laboratory).

Silhouette used to be known as Winchester Action Powder (WAP) and works great with 115 gr Zero bullets.

Be mindful of pressure when loading 9mm

One or two words of caution when reloading for 9mm. The small case size, means even a minor increase in powder can cause a dangerous pressure spike. For example, if 5 grains of powder is the maximum load, and you increase it ½ grain, that’s a 10% increase. In a small case, this variance makes a significant difference. With a larger case or a milder load, this usually isn’t a problem.


The P210 is a perfect blend of old world design and new world manufacturing processes.

It’s incredibly accurate, cycles like a Swiss watch and is easy to shoot. At an MSRP of $1600 (and street price of just under $1500) it’s not for everyone. Nor will the old fashioned iron sights please some of the younger folks who are used to red dots or glass. They will really test your skills. It’s soft shooting and has all components of a hand-fitted target gun–precision barrel to frame lock up and that gorgeously smooth slide to frame fit. The gun can shoot a number of different loads–even light loads because it’s so buttery smooth.

The European-made wooden grips are flawless.

So how does it compare to the old version? My colleague in Hawaii, Brian Takaba the manager (and gunsmith) at X-Ring Security in Waipahu said the “new P210 has much smoother, flowing lines than the original. It also has all the things I wish the old one could have–mag release button, thumb safety and beaver tail.”

I believe the American-made version is commensurate in quality with the European model. What’s more, this new version provides an enthusiast the opportunity to buy a handgun of legendary prowess at a reasonable price. If you consider that a 9mm 1911 that may not shoot as well as this pistol will set you back $2000, the P210 is an American-made bargain.

A final note is a shout out to my friends at X-Ring Security in Waipahu for handling the FFL duties. X-Ring has a wonderful selection of items, a modern, indoor range and full complement of services including a gunsmith. They are easy to work with.

The author is not responsible for mishaps of any kind, which might occur from the use of this data in developing your handloads. It is the user’s responsibility to follow safe handloading guidelines to develop safe ammunition. You use this data at your own risk. No responsibility for the use or safety in use of this data is assumed or implied.

The Enola Gay Has Left the Hangar


What we have been seeing at the Legislature in terms of bills proposing new taxes has been relatively tame.

Until now, that is.

Senate Bill 56, with the ominous title “Relating to Revenue Generation,” has been granted its first hearing by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  It has officially started its journey through the legislative gauntlet.

Why do I call this bill the Enola Gay?  You might remember from the history books that Enola Gay was the name of the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb on the City of Hiroshima in World War II.  Here, of course, the bill’s destination isn’t Japan; it’s the pocketbooks of us the taxpayers. 

Here’s what the payload contains.

There is an income tax hike.  The top income tax rate in the bill is 13% for single filers with more than $250,000 in taxable income, or for couples with more than $500,000 taxable income.  The previous top tax rate was 11%.

The top tax rate on capital gains is hoisted to 11% from 7.25%.

The new tax brackets also are designed to get rid of the effects of low tax brackets on higher income taxpayers.

Corporations, which used to be subject to tax rates of 4.4% to 6.4%, are taxed at a flat rate of 9.6%.

Next, we go to general excise and use tax.  The bill suspends, for two years beginning July 1, 2021, twenty different exemptions that are now allowed under the GET Law and six different exemptions that are now allowed under the Use Tax Law.  This hearkens back to the same exemption suspension that was in effect exactly ten years prior to suspension period now proposed.

And, finally, we have conveyance tax.  The tax rate stays the same for properties sold for $1 million and under but is doubled for those selling for more.  And if the property is a condominium or single-family residence for which the purchaser is ineligible for a county homeowner’s exemption, the tax is increased further; for such properties with a value of $10 million or more, the tax goes from 1% to 2.5%.

The proposed suspension of exemptions lasts two years.  All of the other rate increases proposed are permanent.

The preamble to the bill trying to justify the increases says that we are in a pandemic and state government needs ” to generate revenue to allow the State to meet its strategic goals, avoid furloughs and layoffs for state workers, and prevent disruptions to essential government services.”

Pandemics don’t last forever, however.  These tax increases do.

Another passage in the bill’s preamble recites that “the university of Hawaii economic research organization has found that every $1 in state salary reductions results in a $1.50 decrease in overall economic activity.”

And what then happens with all the jobs outside of the public sector that are rapidly disappearing because businesses big and small can’t make ends meet?  Are those simply ignored in thinking about economic activity?  And I repeat, in the private sector we are not simply talking about salary reductions and furloughs.  Those are happening too, but we are seeing layoffs and business closures.

Lawmakers, are you going to let this Enola Gay drop the bomb on an economy already reeling from the pandemic?  And taxpayers, if you have opinions on the subject that you want your lawmakers to know about, now may be a very good time to let your voices be heard.

Aviator Jeans–Built for Travel and Comfort


Travel is not on the agenda these days.

However, I’m eternally optimistic and, as a travel writer, I like to stay ahead of the curve. I figured it was in my enlightened self-interest to check out Aviator Jeans, which are made for travelers.

Do you really need special pants to get on an airplane or the Siberian Express?

The answer is yes. It’s a matter of having the right gear.

This style was medium indigo but you can get them (for men or women) in khaki, black, navy, camo, steel grey and any number of shades of indigo.

Travel, is the raison d’être of Aviator, a company that has built its entire business model on travel clothing, specifically travel jeans. They offer jeans of every description– classic faded, jet black, khaki, camo, steel grey, etc. I’m partial to their traditional jeans which are of course denim. The other styles of jeans they manufacture are made from different fabric but they are configured exactly the same.

Thus if you’re a guy (or a gal) that likes to board a plane or a train in something a bit more formal than denim, you have choices of color and fabric.

Easy to stash the family jewels. The zipper pulls are flexible and easy to manipulate.

What makes this a travel product?

These jeans are designed to make you blend into the environment rather than standing out like a tourist. There’s nothing “bling-like” or ostentatious about them and that’s a good thing.

I mean who really wants to look like a tourist?

Aviator also has some nifty features that a traveler will appreciate.

There are three “secret” zipper pockets, hidden from view so that you can stash your passport, credit cards, cash, etc. Inside the right front pocket is a pouch and easily tuck in your “mobile”, as they say in Australia. Two of the hidden pockets are back pockets and third is in the left front.

They look pretty standard, which is the idea. You’re not going to stand out wearing them. I like the slim version.

The zippered pocket inside the back right pocket is much deeper, more of a pouch, than its counterpart on the left side which makes it ideal for documents.

Think of yourself as a sort of traveler/secret agent who has special clothing to carry items in a covert manner much like James Bond carried his Walther PPK. (Maybe not a PPK, but there’s also a “5th” pocket above the right front pocket that’s perfect for your cell phone).

So let’s get down to the basics of the product.


The Aviator is a quintessential five pocket and five belt loop classic jean design. You could easily mistake it for a classic Levi or Wrangler.

Plenty of room for your mobile device.

The main difference is that it uses a proprietary stretch denim material that is comfortable and reportedly, wears well. (I’ll let you know in a couple of years!)

Everything is double stitched and reinforced where it counts.

It’s hard to believe that you can get so much function within a pair of five pocket jeans. A big part of this equation is the stretch denim, which as a purist, I was never a big fan of.

However, I am now a convert. The stretch component means improved range of motion in several ways. First off you could probably do yoga asanas in these jeans. Now way could you do that in old fashioned denim. The stretch also affords greater accessibility to the hidden pockets. No brainer there.

Half lotus position? No problem for your next meditation retreat.

What’s really cool is that it’s possible to open and close the hidden zippered pocket in stealth mode.

And speaking of thought…a lot of engineering has gone into the fabric which is composed of:

  • 73% cotton
  • 14% rayon
  • 11% polyester
  • 2% spandex

Not only does this formula equal stretch, it’s also softer and more pliant than what you’d ever expect from run of the mill denim. One reviewer said that it’s closer to wearing sweatpants than jeans. Pretty close to the truth.

With 73% cotton, the Aviator Jean approximates the density of regular denim. Thus they would work probably better in cooler weather rather than in the tropics. If you were travelling to a place that was on the warm side during the day and quite a bit cooler in the evenings you’d want to bring these jeans along.

You don’t have to own a Lear Jet to appreciate these pants. You can proudly wear ’em when you’re walking the wolf.

The Aviators come in slim and straight fits. I chose the slim version because, well, I’m slim and prefer a sleeker look. If you’re not of the sleek lineage, the regular fit will be just fine but if you have an athletic frame, the slims will be more flattering.

If you’ve got a little more bulk around the waist, the jeans are forgiving. The waistband will accommodate you. It stretches.

Note that the jean will shrink about an inch prior to washing and drying it, so add that to the equation before you get it hemmed.

Travel Polo and T-Shirts

Aviator also makes some pretty nifty Polo and T-Shirts designed for travelers. Made with 100% Merino Wool from New Zealand, you can wear them for weeks before needing to wash it. Aviator lists these qualities:

Aviator also makes 100% Merino Wool, fast-drying shirts perfect for travel. Comfortable, lightweight and wrinkle resistant it’s an ideal complement to the jeans.
  • Antimicrobial
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Temperature-regulating 
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Fast-drying 

Just remember to wash with cold water and hang them out to dry. No dryer please!


The jeans are comfortable as hell. They are much softer than classic denim. The hidden pockets can handle your passport and other family jewels. The zipper pull tabs are flexible and are easy to manipulate if you’re stashing things.

Aviator provides a free passport with the jeans and even the shirts. How do they do that?

The jeans are not the quick dry type of fabric so don’t expect that but there’s no free lunch. On the other hand, they are ideal for an airplane ride (where you might need warmer pants when the cabin temp is cranked down) or a trip on the Eurail.

What the heck, you can even wear them on a trip to Costco or walking the dog.

Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and He likes a good pair of pants.