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Shaka. Hawaiian hand gesture. Most visible manifestation is the hang-loose salute of the fellowship of surfers. If someone does something good, cool, or righteous; giving them a shaka is a sign of approval or praise. It is mainly used by old school local boyz. “Eh, shaka brah.”


He’s young and brown, bare-chested and oh-so good looking. He’s been standing on the Waikiki jetty most of the morning, cheering on the other braddahs as they boogie board through the surf. Long hair, deep tan, taut bod, easy laugh — he knows all the shredders, and they all know him. He’s the leader of the hui nalu.

She is white and neat and from Ohio. She has been standing near the end of the jetty for nearly fifteen minutes now, a long-lens camera held carefully in hand. Despite the lengthy lens, though, everything about her says, Not a real shooter. The lens is too light for serious photography. She seems to be looking the wrong way nearly every time somebody locks in on a wave. And she’s too stiff, too unbending, too prim for a photographer.

The two of them are standing ten feet from each other, but they never make contact. Same day, same jetty, different worlds.

Then, the Shaka Kid disappears. He’s gone maybe ten minutes. Miss Ohio continues to wave her camera around, never once smiling at the scene, at the sunny day, at being in Hawaii, at anything. Even if she’s not a serious shooter, she is one serious lady.

Then, suddenly, he’s back. Here are the salient, observable, incontrovertible facts:

  1. He’s carrying a boogie board under his arm
  2. He smells strongly of bakalolo, a.k.a. ganja, grass, weed, dope, marijuana
  3. He crosses himself
  4. He tosses his board off the jetty and into the blue Pacific, a dozen feet below.

Then he dives in after it.

His entry splash reaches the jetty.

And Miss Ohio.

And, ever-so, ever-so slightly, Miss Ohio’s camera.

Suddenly, she’s all animation, all indignation. “Thanks a lot!” she hollers at the water. “Thanks a lot for the warning! Now you’ve got me all wet!”

Note: Miss Ohio is not all wet, at least in the sense that she is using that phrase.

From the blue Pacific, Shaka Kid grins up at her. “Lady,” he says, “you’re at the beach. You’re in Waikiki. What did you expect, a plumeria lei?”


Most of what you just read, I wrote from my center seat, 14E, on the redeye from Honolulu to the Mainland. My wife was in 14F by the window, and for a while, it looked like we’d got lucky — the aisle seat remained empty.

But when a certified Big Boy filled the cabin door, I knew I was in for a cramped ride. Sure enough, he plumped down next to me, asked for the seatbelt extender, and settled into his seat and a third of mine.

My luck had changed … but, turns out, not exactly as I’d thought.

Through takeoff, safety instructions, beverage service and snack, he smiled pleasantly but remained silent. I dug out my MacBook and began writing “Shaka Kid…” There wasn’t much elbowroom, but I’ve worked in tight conditions before, and I thought my little piece came out pretty well.

Then, without warning, the man on my left spoke. “Don’t call ‘em ‘boarders;’ call ‘em ‘shredders.’”


“You called the boogie boarders ‘boarders.’” In Hawaii, we call ‘em ‘shredders.’”

Oh no. Big Boy had just committed three capital offenses at once.

  1. He had read over my shoulder.
  2. He had criticized my writing without invitation.
  3. He had commented on a work in progress.


In the world of writing, these are hanging crimes. But there were a couple of mitigating circumstances. For one, he had done so with perfect innocence and in a manner so matter-of-fact, it was almost impossible to take offence. For another, damnit, he was right. I’m a ski writer, and I really don’t know the terms of surfing, much less those of Hawaiian surfing. I turned to him. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. Instead of leader of the pack, make him the leader of the hui nalu. Means the same thing. And say ‘braddah,’ not ‘brother.’”

“Thanks. Oh, and is it a pier that juts out from Waikiki?

“No, a jetty.”

He offered about eight edits, of which I used maybe six. Then he changed my ending. If that seat had remained empty, the piece you’d just read would have ended, “From the blue Pacific, Shaka Kid grins up at her. ‘Lady,’ he says, ‘you’re at the beach. You’re in Waikiki. What did you expect?’”

That’s actually what transpired that day at Waikiki. But heavy-equipment operator, unpaid editor, seatmate and new friend, George Kameahanohanokahaunaniahaleakala “Hano” Cornwell added the plumeria lei, and I thought the story was all the better for it.

Mahalo, George. Come sit beside me any time, braddah.

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Desperately Seeking Shelter?

Help is just an ebook away

Everyone searching for a house or an apartment in a competitive market knows how vicious that jungle can be.

Jules and Effin Older have hacked through the housing wilderness in New York, New Zealand, and most recently, in hyper-hot San Francisco.

What they discovered will give home-seekers a distinct advantage. Jules has put everything he knows in an ebook, TAKE ME HOME: How to Rent or Buy in a Hot Home Market.

In his words, “What worked for us in San Francisco will work for you in Auckland and Oakland, Sydney and San Jose, Singapore and Shanghai, London and Los Angeles, Honolulu and Hong Kong, DC and NY.”

Jules says, “TAKE ME HOME starts with SHOW, taking you through our rollercoaster ride searching for shelter in San Francisco. Then, the TELL: lessons learned, secret weapons, attitude shifts that will help you in your search. Plus, credit reports, furniture storage, dealing with mood swings, avoiding scams, employing useful websites and a whole lot more. And, yes, if all else fails, pushing the button on The Nuclear Option.”

TAKE ME HOME will cost US$10. It’s now available at the introductory price of $US5 on Amazon and all other platforms.

For a visual taste of the book, check out the Olders’ minimovie of the same name.


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A Travel Writer Encounters Gargantuan Gators, Irksome Offspring, Murderous Mayonnaise & True Love


DEATH BY TARTAR SAUCE is Jules Older’s strangest, wildest, and funniest experiences as a travel writer. They take place in California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont; Australia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Virgin Islands and New Zealand. The tales involve kids and sex (strangely, in that order), skiing and snowboarding, crocs and gators, grand opera and extremely fast cars.

There’s also a section Older calls “The Grumpie Foodie.” In it, he comes to grips with food and wine. One chapter, “I Didn’t Spit”, deals with his first encounter with real wine writers. Another, “Definer Dishes”, describes the ethnic foods that separate members of the tribe/religion/nation from outsiders. “Omnivore’s Revenge” takes Older and his vegetarian wife to the judges’ table at the New England BBQ Championships.

The stories in DEATH BY TARTAR SAUCE take place while traveling alone, with his boisterous family, and with other travel writers … including the food writer who came close to experiencing Death By Tartar Sauce.

Buy this book: amazon

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Get ready for a compendium of the wildest true tales by the greatest ski and snowboard writers. Tales of jail, of humiliation, of skiing through gunfire, snowboarding through pain, getting crushed by avalanche, threatened by authorities, and nearly killing a couple of high-rolling ski students from Hong Kong.

Here’s how it started… On October 19, an email arrived from a ski writer/ski buddy who had managed to get himself remanded into a seriously uncomfortable night in the drunk-tank in lovely Whistler, British Columbia.

His emailed confession was the embodiment of humiliation. It was also the embodiment of my favorite kind of ski writing — personal, quirky, compelling. I thought: I would kill to publish this thing.

That’s when the light bulb lit. I can publish this thing, and a lot of other things I love to read. I’ll create an eBook. A skiBook eBook.

That same day, I contacted North America’s finest ski writers. I wrote:

“I’m finding the central, unifying theme hard to describe, but it’s a lot like Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart’s description of pornography: ‘I know it when I see it.’ Stories have to be personal. Have to be revealing. Can be embarrassing. And must be brilliantly written. The key word is intense: intensely funny, tragic, exciting — intense.”

The writers exceeded my fondest dreams. Get ready for a wild, uproarious, heart-wrenching, consciousness-expanding, utterly brilliant ride.

SKIING THE EDGE is now on sale at Amazon and iTunes, Nook and every other electronic platform.

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