Keeping busy

This morning I went to the breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club of Upcountry Maui, to see two high schoolers receive the club’s Students of the Month awards. They were an impressive pair, and I will relay a little about them in a moment, but what I found noteworthy was the variety (and, apparently, also depth) of the opportunities students have today.

There was nothing close to it when I was in high school, 50 years ago.

Of course, not all students get the same opportunities. Money and transportation would prevent some. Babysitting obligations would stop others.

But the opportunities are there for both private and public school students.

It is nearly impossible, in some circles, to bring up the topic of education without being subjected to a tirade against public schools. And teachers. And unions.

I spent a lot of time on campus when my children were in high school, and what I saw was generally good. Certainly far better than the Catholic school I went to. I do not believe that anyone pushing vouchers has the interests of the students uppermost. And religious schools are, with some but not many exceptions, antieducational.

The selectees were Jamie Gomes from King Kekaulike High and Josh Higa from Kamehameha Schools Maui. As you can see from the photograph, happy-looking kids.

Jamie said she had been thinking of becoming a family physician until attending a boot camp at Berkeley last summer where she observed a knee operation and is now wondering if becoming an orthopedic surgeon wouldn’t be better.

She plays water polo and for her community service requirement has started Operation JAG (Jamie Against Bullying) to go to the community with a message. She would like to attend Oregon State and then Oregon University of Health Sciences medical school.

Josh wants to become a botanist, with an interest in native plants. He’s been learning about the Hawaiian uses of plants as medicine — la’au lapaau. He does judo and runs cross-country and is studying Japanese in school. He has been on reef and park cleaning trips.

He has Northern Arizona and Pacific on his college list.

There were quite a few other items on Jamie’s and Josh’s busy lists, and I asked Josh’s mother Terilyn if she worries about burnout. “Yes,” she said.

But I think the kids will be all right.

Does Macy’s tell Gimbel’s?

We don’t know. But according to The New York Times, EZ Pawn does tell Tiffany’s.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Tiffany’s. First a vice president was charged with stealing over a million dollars worth of jewelry. Next a customer wearing a riding cap (whatever that is) grabs nearly $100,000 worth of jewelry from a clerk and runs out.

The store got his picture on surveillance camera but, so far, not him.

EZ Pawn, well known in New York because it has lots of ads in the subways, offers advice to Tiffany’s (which has been in business since 1837 and you’d think wouldn’t need it) on how not to get robbed.

One thing that the Tiffany clerk did that even rookies are taught not to do is to take out two items for inspection at the same time. It’s tedious, sometimes, but most jewelers put one piece back before taking out another.

For 9,999 out of 10,000 customers, it’s an irritation. For that 10,000th one, who’s looking to grab and run, it’s a wise precaution. Maui readers may recall the crook who grabbed a $65,000 Rolex and ran from a Wailea jeweler a few years ago.

He didn’t get away  but he did create plenty pilikia.

At our Maui pawn shop, we follow most of the tried-and-true precautions that EZ Pawn recommended to Tiffany’s. But one we don’t:

Ms. Simon said that when a customer entered, she looked at his shoes. If they are tightly laced, that is a sign of trouble: “They’re a runner,” she said. It was pointed out to her that a couple of customers were, at that moment, wearing tightly laced shoes and seemed innocent enough. She shrugged.

Most of our customers wear slippers.IMG_1041

Pawnbrokers should be smiling

IDEX Research finds that in 2012 for the first time, sales in America of jewelry and fine watches exceeded $70 billion. It is not clear from this story at National Jeweler whether resales were counted or not.

Our guess is not. But pawnbrokers should be happy anyway.

First, it gives more Americans more stuff to pawn if they feel like it. Second, it provides the wherewithal for pawn shops’ important business in recycled (second-hand, vintage, collectible, historical, retro) jewelry.

Bigger pie, bigger slices.

The percentage increase in the fine jewelry business was not as great as in 2011, but that year the prices of gold and other precious metals zoomed. In 2012, metals’ prices were up, but not as much, so the gain came from more sales.

That is, more Americans felt able to afford fine jewelry and watches last year. As our source for this story at Little Green Footballs notes, that should be taken as a vote of confidence in the overall economy.

In case you are curious, bling beats Bowser. Pets International says dog food sales are around $10 billion.