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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 8, 2002

Odd pursuits

Advertiser Staff

Mother always said get a hobby, but what is it that moves someone to try to eat at all 12,000 McDonald's restaurants in the United States? Or to collect hundreds of bonsai plants? Susan Sheehan and Howard Means explore that question by means of quick life sketches in "The Banana Sculptor, the Purple Lady and the All-night Swimmer: Hobbies, Collecting and Other Passionate Pursuits" (Simon & Schuster, hardback, $25).

While their subjects' pursuits and interests vary widely, there are common threads: the pleasure of the doing rather than the finishing, unwavering optimism and an endearing lack of self-consciousness. Most of these engagingly told chapters are brief testimonies to what a passion can do for a person. Looks like Mother was right again.

It's a wonderful town

While in many respects New Yorkers and Hawai'i folk couldn't be more culturally different, there's one thing we have in common: We're passionate about where we came from, and we never quite lose that yearning for home, no matter how long we're away. That's the premise behind the New York Castaways, a 10-year-old organization of former New Yorkers that has launched a Web site, www.NYcastaways.com, with the slogans "Far Flung, True Blue" and "Connecting Ex-New Yorkers ... Everywhere."

Founder Antoine "Tony" Dozois said the need for the site seemed especially acute after the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. The site offers a Graffiti Guestbook (members log), a message forum, links to other Big Apple-related sites, a guide to sources of Gotham-centric publications and videos, a place to post creative works, a Times Square-cam, New York weather and time, and classified ads for ex-New Yorkers. You have to sign in on the members' log to access some of the features, but there's no membership fee.

Bathroom snoops

Would you snoop in someone else’s medicine cabinet while visiting their home? Two out of five of us do, according to a Bathroom Report put out by Quilted Northern bathroom tissue. Some go as far as using their host’s comb, toothbrush and other toiletries.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, authority on just about everything, says all this snooping makes sense psychologically: The bathroom is the smallest room in the house but reveals the most about a person. “We keep our secrets in the bathroom.”