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Mention medical marijuana and people are still reduced to the awkward giggles of high school and the overly earnest diatribes of college stoners trying to justify their lifestyle choices at 3 in the morning (also awkward, but in a different way).

Usually when a guy is standing on the side of a busy roadway holding a sign, he’s selling something or asking for donations. Sometimes he’s promoting a blow-out mattress sale (whatever that means) or a benefit car wash nearby.

Bridget Morgan fires off quotes like arrows. About the City Council’s tainted rail votes, Morgan said, “This was an institutional failure. We’re not talking about one or two measures.

Sometimes, when the wind is right and the stadium is almost empty, Jimmy Hutcherson’s voice can be heard all through Hawaii Kai. “Oh, the people who live in the Esplanade really get it bad, bless their hearts,” he said.

Raise your hand if you still slip and call it “Liberty House.” Right?!! What’s up with that? Liberty House was sold to Macy’s in 2001. Why is the old name still stuck in our heads?

Albert Minn sat in the shade while people around him talked about why he’s so special. The 90-year-old wore his trademark pointed beard and a red T-shirt with a logo (depicting him with his trademark pointed beard) framed by the words “Al Minn Invitational.”

Wait, what are we afraid of again? Because it keeps changing, like fashion trends or the latest smartphones. It’s not like all the things we fear are always fixed or vanquished. Mostly, we stop worrying about them because we get bored, frustrated or distracted by something else.

It’s just sitting there, begging for snarky comments — the announcement that $40,000 has been budgeted for an official portrait of former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, one of the more unpopular local political figures of our era.

Janeen-Ann Olds was CEO of Sandwich Isles Communications during the years its founder stole millions of dollars in federal funding. She either knew Al Hee was raiding the subsidies to pay for crazy things like his kids’ college tuition and weekly massages for himself — which is bad — or she didn’t know that was going on right under her nose — which isn’t good, especially for a CEO.

Breene Harimoto wears a backpack around his house to carry the apparatus for the feeding tube that is still attached to his stomach. It’s not how he thought he’d spend his summer, battling an aggressive form of cancer. He had planned to be reading and researching in preparation for the legislative session. But not much in his life is what he thought it would be.

After 12 years of reporting on Oahu’s traffic, Danielle Tucker can read the roads the way a wayfinder can read the seas.

It could have been the most miserable high school football game of the season. Maybe ever.

It's hard to get things done in Hawaii, but it's nearly impossible to get things undone. And people know this. They exploit it. They rush to push projects, build buildings and develop developments before anyone holds them to rules.

Above all, their mentor taught them the value of hard work — how it elevates talent, forges relationships, helps ease hurting hearts.

What goes through your mind when you’re stuck in traffic? Yeah, never mind. That kind of language is unprintable.

You’d think the state Ethics Commission would have better things to do than kick already beleaguered public school teachers and take educational opportunities away from public school kids.

There was a time — before Costco and waterfront houses with mermaid statues and infinity pools, decades before the name “Hawaii Kai” — whenever anyone spoke of Maunalua Bay, the first thing that came to mind was “Lukela!”

It is late morning in August, not the hottest day, but hot enough. The trees outside are still, no breeze. In the classroom, four ceiling fans try their best while a small platoon of underpowered floor fans blow the hot air around.

The Kauai that Jacy Youn remembers is not the Kauai to which she returned. It’s a common feeling for those who grew up in a small town, made their mark in the city and then went back to give back.

It has been 2-1/2 years since U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye died, and Hawaii has yet to come to terms with the loss. Not just the emotional loss — the mention of his name can still make die-hard Dems choke up — but the loss of his leadership (dictatorial though it was), his vision and his gravitas.

It's just after 6 a.m. and John Min is already in the car with the engine running. He calls his daughter's cellphone. "Are you ready?" She is, and she comes tumbling out of the house with her Mickey Mouse backpack in one hand and her cell in the other.

Less than 10 miles from Oahu’s blinding high-rises and the thick, sour smells of the city, the Ka Iwi Coastline sits unspoiled and full of secrets.

With Oahu’s median home price now at $710,000 and the huge demand for livable housing in Hawaii, you’d think that no one could afford to waste real property by turning it into an uninhabitable dump site. Yet many of us have stories of trash houses in our own ZIP code.

Every morning, Vice Principal Howard Chi makes his rounds on campus. Often, he finds water taps running and dirty bars of soap left behind. People come to bathe and sleep at the school at night. There have been break-ins and broken pipes. Sometimes, there’s human feces on the sidewalks fronting classrooms.

Reporter Kristen Consillio’s scoop on the front page of Thursday’s paper gave credence to every snarky joke about state workers: that they’re not doing their jobs, they’re just passing time until retirement, that they complain about roadblocks when they’re the ones blocking the road.

The front-page photo was startling: four little Girl Scouts with sashes and pink shoelaces walking through the Kakaako shantytown without fear and without judgment.

Say what you want about Gov. David Ige’s lack of oomph, but give him credit for emphatic shakas.

Some are buying plastic bags in bulk at Sam’s Club or online (1,000 for about $14, and yes, that’s legal). The more hard-core are going with naked bathroom trash cans and making the commitment to regularly wash them out. (Pretty nasty when that one piece of dental floss is stuck way on the bottom. Or worse.)

It didn’t happen this time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. If a big hurricane comes ashore or a tsunami races at us from the Pacific, where are the hundreds of Kakaako homeless going to go?

Luke Takayama is not quite what he'd call a "hard-core bon dancer" but he is definitely in the league of bon dance groupies.

The image of Hawaii meant to touch the hearts of potential tourists is the golden, empty beach at sunset, mai tais by the infinity pool, a hula dancer under a moonlit coconut tree.

At 11 a.m., the Kahala McDonald's is filled with moms with little kids and the little old ladies from Kaimuki. These are folks who get hungry before noon and don't have to wait for a company-sanctioned lunch hour to eat. The construction workers come in later.

A visit to Kauai used to be predictably sedate. Tourists would come to the lush, bucolic island to take pictures at various roadside vantage points — Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Valley, Spouting Horn — all from a safe distance.

John Koko knew how to play to the crowd, even if the crowd was an online audience.

Every election year in Hawaii, somebody resorts to negative campaigning, and every time it happens, the reaction is, "Tsk-tsk, this is not how we do things in the Aloha State! This is a new low.

On Thursday morning, Clarence Ing was putting the finishing touches on a volunteer project that was supposed to take a few months but stretched out to almost nine years.

People on the mainland have a thing about rubber slippers, a general dislike that borders on bias.

Every so often you come across a little story that seems to stand for more than the original incident.

On Kauai, the mongoose has taken on almost a legendary status in local lore.

It's always been tricky getting flowers in May because of the triple whammy of May Day celebrations, Mother's Day and graduation. This year seems to be the worst ever.

First off, a website that starts a petition to wag a scolding finger at a former governor, admonishing him to "be nice," is by its own definition of the term, not very nice.

The facts of her life make for an impressive biography: She grew up on the campus of Kamehameha Schools, the daughter of a beloved scholar of Hawaiian history and granddaughter of a four-star admiral.

It's true that everybody makes mistakes, but messing up the ranking of potential dump sites is right up there with miscounting on election night or calling a mole a tumor.

There were times while working on the film that the director felt she was with him. He'd somehow come upon just the right footage lost among the hundreds of hours of source material or he'd sense her presence in the wind.

Oh, the bad old days when every Saturday morning indulgent plans for sleeping in would be ruined by acrid clouds of smoke billowing from the neighbor's relentless burning of mango leaves.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that mug shot told a singularly succinct story.

When a local politician gets arrested for DUI, doesn't your mind instantly go down the list of all the others in that category, all the other lawmakers who have DUI arrests in their past? Human nature does a head count and an instant compare/contrast of who was drunker, who was dumber, who did more damage.

On weekends, pediatrician Dr. James L. Mertz, father of nine, would go to Kapiolani hospital to visit his newborn patients. His wife, Elizabeth, recalls he "took along any assorted Mertz children who wanted to go with Dad and see the babies!"

First off, Best Buddies is not a service club. Everyone who talks about the program that pairs up high school students who have intellectual or developmental disabilities with peers who do not says that the relationships that form are amazingly, beautifully, mutually beneficial.

American Idol" contestant Deandre Kamele Brackensick, the California teen with deep roots in Hawaiian music, appears in a video on YouTube that has fans rapturous.

He survived cancer, beating the odds and coming back stronger; at 76, he is still one of the busiest entertainers in Hawaii.

If we want our kids to dream big, we have to show them how, right?” says Kay Fukuda. In just a matter of months, a group of Leeward Coast elementary students went from total beginners to obsessed competitors in the complex world of team robotics. When the competitive season ended, the kids didn’t want to stop.

When the cancer came back again, Hawaii-born author Margaret Mitchell Dukore posted a challenge on Facebook: Tell me what I'm not going to miss when I'm gone.

For the past 20 years, no swimmer from Farrington High School has qualified for the state championships. Part of that time, there was no swim team at Farrington. Most of that time, the Farrington pool has been closed.

When funk music great Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band wrote the song "Disrespect" in 1985, as the story goes, it was directed at Prince, who had thrown him out of a concert when he tried to join Mr. Purple Rain onstage.

In this era of reinventing yourself and second careers, it shouldn't be remarkable that the top three contenders for Honolulu mayor aren't particularly mayoral.

The cars parked outside had California plates and Hawaii bumper stickers. Many came wearing sweaters over aloha shirts and carrying ukulele cases. It wasn't a memorial for ukulele master Bill Tapia. He told his closest friends he didn't want anything like that.

In the news of Bill Dahle's passing, it was strange to read the dates of when he first came to Kauai and when he retired from radio. It didn't seem possible that there was a beginning or end to his presence on the island.

The houses aren't much to look at. Most are at least 90 years old, held together by peeling paint, rusty nails and the magic that keeps old houses going when there are people inside who love every creaking board. To some eyes, those old homes stand for all that is good about small town life.

Every year since 1984, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has come out with a calendar and every year it's a thing of beauty and scholarship. Just having a state project survive for 29 years is amazing enough, as the calendars have continued through changes in administration, economics, taste and technology.

Every Christmas for the last nine years, the card arrived in the mail. It started in 2002, when veteran Terry Feavel wrote to the newspaper on a mission to repay an old debt.

Some days, the boy would go bounding into the sunlight with the kids he thought of as his brothers. Other days, he would retreat to the attic in his foster home to sob over his mother's pictures and her few remaining dresses. It was just a year, but those days shaped his whole life.

When HPD released the video of Tom Berg's run-in with security officers at the APEC conference, it was like, Oh goody.

Every so often, if you have sharp eyes and good luck, you can find a little bit of Tutu's beloved anthurium set on a tucked-away shelf.

This time of year, when little kids come home from school with hand-print turkeys and construction paper Pilgrim and Indian costumes, calls to mind a gem of a story written by a Hawaii teacher nearly 100 years ago.

For the past year, Donalyn Dela Cruz has been in the most high-profile and possibly most challenging media relations job in the state, serving as press secretary for Neil Abercrombie, a governor struggling with low voter-approval ratings and a brutal economy.

Get caught speeding in a school zone and you face a higher penalty -- a fine of up to $250. A conviction for selling drugs near a school also carries a greater punishment than selling drugs on just any non-school street corner.

Though she had dreamed of this moment from childhood, when the big day came she wore a dress she bought from Ross and told everybody that that's where she got the outfit. While others would brag about what she's accomplished, Karen Kuioka Hironaga is more comfortable making jokes about the clearance rack.

If my mother had a dollar for every time some guy asked, "Hey lady, you selling your car?" she would have enough money to buy that old Chevy several times over and take her friends out to a really nice lunch.

It was September 1944, in the last year of the Second World War. Harayuki Tamamoto, who grew up north of Hilo, was 21 years old and recently inducted into the Army. He spent two weeks at the Helemano Army camp near Wahiawa before being transported by pineapple train car to Honolulu Harbor.

Somewhere along the way, quitting your job to spend more time with your family turned into code for "I got fired" or "I quit in a huff.

I currently live two miles away from a Trader Joe's. I currently live two miles away from a Trader Joe's. That's a six-minute drive, even in sandstorm traffic. As homesick as I am in California, friends think I have nothing to complain about. After all, I can pop over to Trader Joe's any old time I want to and buy ... what?

Daphne Vaina was having a great week. The 23-year-old recent University of Hawaii at Manoa grad had just gotten the news that she had been hired as a part-time teacher at Dole Middle School and was elated she'd be working at her alma mater.

Hawaii is marketed as the most romantic place on earth. Our entire economy is built on tourism. So why are the governor and the first spouse celebrating their anniversary in Paris?

Florence Delos Santos Marton had the largest Barbie Doll collection you could ever imagine — thousands of dolls. But that wasn't the most amazing thing about her.

It was still dark in Hawaii when the news came. We were jolted out of sleep into a new reality. Though the islands are among the farthest corners of America, far from the places attacked, our community changed on Sept. 11, 2001, and in many ways, has never been the same.

You know that one neighbor who always brings the newest, hippest, best pupu to the potluck? Last fall, our hip pupu neighbor busted out hot lava pork rinds and everyone at the party pretty much had their minds blown.

Pinkies aren't free. That's probably one of the main reasons there have been so many snakes turned in (or let go) on Oahu this year.

Kaloa Robinson made a sweet life for himself. After graduating from Damien, he went to Whittier and then got his master's at George Washington University.

The patients will often save their bandages, keeping the papery strips of adhesive like they held some sort of healing power or the kindness of someone who was cheering for their recovery.

Many towns have Facebook groups, online pages where nostalgia runs high as grownups check their murky childhood memories against those of their peers.

On Saturday mornings, Burt Fujii drives a delivery truck from Honolulu to Pearl City, out to Waipio, Mililani and Wahiawa, then to Haleiwa, back around to Ewa, up to Makakilo and around to Nanakuli. It's a route that takes him five hours to complete.

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