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Six Months in Hawaii

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Hawaii | 0 comments

I wrote a post a few months back about my journey to Hawaii Island. After nearly eight years living in Japan, my wife and I decided to come back to the US and chose Hawaii as our new home. We just recently passed the six month mark and all is going well.

We were finally able to move from our one room condo in Hilo to a house in Mountain View. We have a little longer drive and it is a little colder, but we wanted to live here for a while before we commit to purchasing. We are hoping it will be a little warmer during the summer months.

My wife found a job working at a tour company that primarily works with Japanese tourist. I recently found a position as the Director of Sales and Marketing for a local company here on the Big Island that makes cookies, candies and chips.

Live in Hawaii

I can’t talk about the rest of Hawaii, but for anyone wanting to live on the Big Island, I really recommend that you do your research. While my wife and I have been lucky enough to find jobs (the ability to speak Japanese helps), I have also heard a lot of stories of people who moved over here and had to return home after not being able to find a suitable position. The the other islands may be different. I would definitely assume that Oahu is.


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DIY Standing Computer Desk

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Health, How To | 0 comments

DIY Standing Desk

I’m not a big fan of heart attacks and I definitely want to avoid back problems. There are a growing number of studies showing how bad sitting all day is for you. The animated video below lists a number of the problems that are caused . (Also see below for what you need to build one yourself)

Unfortunately, I still have to spend a lot of time in front of a computer nearly everyday. When I first learned about people using standing desks I wanted to give it a try. At the time, I knew I would be moving soon and so I never did. I have recently moved to Hawaii and I needed a way to create two work spaces in our condo. There is one built in desk and not a lot of room. The perfect chance to build a standing desk.

Since we are planning to move in the near future, I decided to create something that I can use now as a computer desk and later as a book case. As you will see, there are a couple disadvantages to doing it this way. The advantage is that I can try it out, and if I don’t like it, I end up with a book case. If I do like it, I will be able to still turn this one into a book case and build an even better one later.

DIY Standing Desk FullThe biggest disadvantage is that a bookcase isn’t quite deep enough. Ideally you want your screen about 20-28″ away from your face.  Because a book case is only 12″ deep, my screen sits about 12″ away from my face. I think I can fix this by adding an extension to the keyboard/mouse shelf. Luckily, the screen I am currently using is very small and 12″ isn’t too bad. In fact, 20-28″ might be a little too far away.

I wanted to keep the design as clean as possible, so I used dowels and glue for the joints. This means that my shelves aren’t adjustable. I recommend that you choose a way to make your shelves adjustable. You may find that the shelves shouldn’t go where you thought they should (my computer was sitting to high when I first tested it). Adjustable shelves will also allow multiple people to use the desk.

How I Built it

I had two main goals with this desk/bookshelf. First was price. I didn’t want to spend very much since this would be a tester desk. No reason to spend a lot of money and then hate it. The second was future usability. This would only be used temporarily as a desk, and for much longer as a bookshelf.


There are a number of types of prebuilt shelves you can buy that will work just as good as this. The reason I decided to build my own was cost and aesthetics. I’m not a big fan of particle wood.

  • 3- 1″ x 12″ x 6′ wooden boards
  • wood screws or wooden dowels

I had Home Depot cut one of the boards lengthwise into 4 even pieces to become the legs and the other two pieces cut in half to become the shelves. I measured out where I wanted to put the shelves, drilled the holes, installed the dowels, and then glued it all together. Pretty simple. It’s not perfect, but it works for now. I will put a clear protective coat over it once I have had a chance to sand it.

Altogether the supplies cost about $40.

What would I do differently

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not quite deep enough. It really needs to be about 24-30″ to make this work with a larger screen. I think I could make this current design work, by adding a slide out piece for the keyboard and mouse. I also think I would go a little bit wider. I often work with two monitors and that might get a little tight in this space.

The other thing I would add is a “wrap around” for more desk space. A place for writing and filling out documents, and maybe someplace to put a drink..

Other than that, I am actually quite pleased with it.

Alternate Idea

I enjoy working with my hands and really wanted to make something. If you wanted something more simple, and something that will still be usable later, then I think a heavy duty storage rack will work great. The shelves are adjustable, they have a smooth shelves, and they come with decent dimensions (though maybe a little too shallow). If you don’t like the desk, use can still use the shelving in your garage or pantry.

Alternative DIY Standing Desk

Sitting or standing

It’s still too early to tell. So far though, I really like it. Leaving and returning to the desk is much easier and it does seem to keep me more active. Not that I am leaving my computer more often, but I do tend to move around more. When I do have to leave the desk however, it is easier to get back to work.

The first day my legs were a little tired, but I seem to be getting used to it now. I am sure that my posture is much better.

DIY Desk Using Pallets

If you want a simple, cheap, DIY sit down desk, check out this desk I made a while back out of pallets. I think the whole thing cost me about $25.

DIY Computer Desk




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Made in the USA

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in Main, Money | 0 comments

made in china

A town full of empty buildings, closed signs, and homeless people. This was the sight I was greeted with after returning to my home town after seven years in Japan.

I recently watched “Death by China“, a movie about how all the products coming from China, and the policies and methods that are used to create them, are destroying America. Since I have been out of the country for so long, the change has not been gradual.

A lot of the information in this video wasn’t new to me. It’s no surprise that there are bad and unsafe working conditions, government subsidizing, and products being made that contain toxic chemicals. What’s new is how I choose to act on this information.

In the past I would have thought, “yeah, it’s bad, but what can I do” or “the companies have all the power, so nothing will change”.

Lately though, I have come to realize that I do have influence and something that gives me back a bit of power. I have a choice. I can choose when, where, and what to spend my money on. Similar to how I decided to stop buying processed foods, dairy, and most meats after watching a number of documentaries and reading a number of books about nutrition, I can choose not to purchase products made in China or from companies who have practices I disagree with.

I can also choose to support companies who produce their products here in the US. I think very few companies are ethical. They care about profits, but if they can make more money by staying in the US, they will.

I’ve been at it for about a week, but buying US made goods hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Some things are a little more expensive, some a little cheaper, but most seem better made. In the long run, I think I may actually save money because of the products I put back that are made in China. I also feel really great about making the purchases. It may be small, but I feel I am making a difference.

Please watch the movie and see what you think. Have you ever put something back because it was made in China? Do you try to find US made? Have you noticed that disappearance of shops and factories in your town?

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Palms and Blue Sky

Posted by on Nov 25, 2013 in Hawaii | 0 comments

I actually took this picture a few days ago, but I figured better late than never. Even though it’s November you would never know it. The weather is warm and the sky is blue!

Palm Trees and blue sky

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Incorporating Exercise Into Everyday Activities

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 in Hawaii | 0 comments

Not all exercise has to be done at the gym or as part of an exercise routine. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as changing your daily habits. Parking farther from the store, walking when you could drive, or even getting up to change the TV channel  instead of using the remote.

There are a lot of things that you could probably change in your daily life to burn a few more calories.

For me, that was walking to the post office today. At about 2 miles away, it would have been much quicker and easier to drive. Instead, I decided to turn it into an adventure and walked.  I got exercise, but it didn’t feel like I was doing it to work out. I was just going to get the mail. What things could you be doing that will help you burn a few extra calories?

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