Category Archives: Consumer issues

The Day After

I had my “Hallelujah” moment this morning following cataract surgery on my right (and dominant) eyes yesterday. I awoke, got out of bed, and took off the eye shield that had protected my right eye during the night. The first thing I noticed was that vision in that eye was sharp and clear. The second thing is that I was seeing a different world.

It’s like an oil painting rescued from a smoker’s home. If you’ve every done this, you know that colors, and most noticeably the whites, become covered with a thin layer of yellow-brown film from tobacco smoke. That shifts the colors dramatically, and usually requires extensive cleaning of the painting to restore the original colors.

Yesterday’s cataract removal provided the same cleaning of everything I’m looking at. Whites are actually white, not a yellowish cream color. I’m seeing the colors of our house for the first time. I even had to seek out each of our cats to reassess their colors!

Looking across the yard at a plant that has variegated and green leaves. If I close the eye that had the cataract removed, and look only through the other uncorrected eye, the leaves appear yellow and green. Close that eye, open the cataract-free eye, and they are bright white and green. A dramatic difference that I’m gleefully recreating everywhere I look this morning.

[reposted from Facebook]

Cataract gone…so far, so good

[text]So far, so good.
I checked in for cataract surgery this morning at 6:30 a.m., about 25 minutes before sunrise. It was, and felt, early. It was over, and I was ready to be picked, by 8:33, which is when an initial text to Meda was time stamped.

So far, no “hallelujah” moment, I’m afraid. My eye is still somewhat dilated, vision a bit blurry, but no pain or headache. I report back for first recheck tomorrow morning, then again next Monday. I’m taking it slow and easy.

I have a longer post over on Facebook.

Event to challenge “systemic barriers to justice”

A gathering dubbed “The People’s Congress” is being held this weekend in Honolulu, according to a press release from a coalition of sponsoring groups.

The two day event, which is scheduled to run all day Saturday and Sunday, aims to bring together people and groups “working to end systemic barriers to justice in Hawai’i.”

Workshops and panels will address a range of issues, from affordable housing and “Preferred Futures in Public Education” to what can be done to reduce the influence of big money in politics and elections.

Take a look at the full schedule and you’ll likely find some discussions of interest.

The weekend events will be at the KUPU Net Shed, 725-F Ala Moana Blvd. in Honolulu.

The conference is free, but advance registration is required.

Sponsoring organizations include Unite Here! Local 5 Union, and the Local 5-backed Aikea Movement, along with a number of other groups, including Community Alliance on Prisons, Hawai?i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), Hawai?i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, Hawai?i Center for Food Safety (HCFS), Hawai’i People’s Fund, Hawai‘i SEED, Hawai‘i Teachers for Change Caucus, Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends, Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, KAHEA: Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, Life of the Land, Maui Tomorrow, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC), Sierra Club of Hawai`i, the Aloha ‘Aina Project.

The People’s Congress follows a series of forums held last month on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island. According to the People’s Congress website, the forums drew “over 300” participants. Given the number of organizations involved, that seems quite a modest turnout for a series of events meant to build up to this weekend’s Congress.

Speaking of oceanfront properties…

We were able to spend Saturday night with friends in Kaaawa, and got up early Sunday morning for our walk at dawn. This was the view at Swanzy Beach Park, where a few hardy campers braved the blustery weather.

November 27

Despite the concerns about the effect of climate change on sea levels, we noticed that a home on a narrow lot between the highway and the ocean sold earlier this year for a reported $998,000. It’s located along a beach that has experienced substantial erosion for years, and seems a prime candidate to fall victim to rising sea levels, but that apparently didn’t deter buyers.

I suppose it would be interesting to look at sales data for oceanfront properties. I’ll have to give some thought to what to look for in these data.

Any suggestions?

Or maybe someone’s already done this?

Watching the rising waters

A New York Times story published this week reports that the economic impact of climate change and rising sea levels on coastal real estate “could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008.”

It’s an important story with plenty of implications for Hawaii, but likely got lost in the Thanksgiving and Black Friday news and advertising.

See: Ian Urbina, “Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate.”

“The fallout would be felt by property owners, developers, real estate lenders and the financial institutions that bundle and resell mortgages,” according to the story.

The article cites “nuisance flooding,” or flooding caused by tides rather than by weather, as sort of a leading indicator. Honolulu already has its share. The high tide floods in the Mapunapuna industrial area is just the most recognized. But some older high rise buildings in low lying areas of Honolulu, including in and around Waikiki, are already facing problems created by a rising water table. I know of several condominiums on the edge of Waikiki where water is entering elevator shafts, requiring expensive efforts to seal or block the waters. Given the number of older buildings, I would be surprised if this isn’t a major issue that just hasn’t grabbed the public’s attention yet.

There are many unknowns, including the pace of sea level rise over coming decades and the reaction of real estate markets.

The NYT story cites a recent post by Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, concerning the impact on the mortgage market.

One challenge for housing economists is predicting the time path of house prices in areas likely to be impacted by climate change. Consider an expensive beachfront house that is highly likely to be submerged eventually, although “eventually” is difficult to pin down and may be a long way off. Will the value of the house decline gradually as the expected life of the house becomes shorter? Or, alternatively, will the value of the house—and all the houses around it—plunge the first time a lender refuses to make a mortgage on a nearby house or an insurer refuses to issue a homeowner’s policy? Or will the trigger be one or two homeowners who decide to sell defensively?

I’m now living a quarter-mile from the beach, and I’m old enough that the long view isn’t as much of a personal concern. But for younger folks, this all deserves to be a much higher priority.