Welcome to 2021

It’s 2021. The old year is now behind us. That is a good thing. It is best that 2020 be forgotten. We are hopeful for 2021, yet some of the issues and problems from the previous year still haunt us. First up is my list of hopeful expectations on what 2021 can be for us.

The first rainbow of 2021. Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu HI


  1. An end to COVID-19: I can safely bet that this is what everyone wants. The end to the pandemic and a return to a life of “normal” pre-pandemic.
  2. A vaccine that works. OK. I am not going to rush out and get myself vaccinated. I want to see how the vaccine works out in the next few weeks to months. Let the early adopters surge ahead and hope that they do not come down with any serious side effects.
  3. The end of mandated mask wearing in public places. It would be great if we can just do away with the masks.
  4. Ease the restrictions on airline travel. The mandatory mask wearing, health screening requirements and government tracking through smart phone apps have to go completely away before I even venture out to an airport. Hopefully this can be done before the year is out.
  5. Open the economy. Yes, everything should be open before the year is out. Hawaii, the nation and the rest of the world have suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19 emergency orders and shut down mandates. Businesses and unemployed residents are hurting.
  6. I can assume people will still want more government stimulus checks this year as we did last year to help us with growing financial burdens.
  7. Full employment by everyone who wants a job? Is that even possible, now or even after the pandemic is over?
  8. Restoration of all of the freedoms that were stripped away from us in 2020. Can this be possible with new administrations coming in on both the national and local level?
  9. FUN. We need more fun things to do without having to worry about social distancing and catching COVID-19 or any other virus.
  10. Return of the big events where crowds can enjoy themselves: Parades, festivals, trade shows, record sales, carnivals, sports events, rock concerts, live performances of all types, beach activities with no restrictions… all of these and more would be the pinnacle of a return to normalcy. We can hope. Let’s have it done in 2021.

OK, I could probably do a list for all the bad things that happened in 2020, but I won’t. We know what they are. We don’t need anymore reminders. There were a few good things that I noticed in 2020. Among them:


First sunrise of 2021
The orange yellow sky over Diamond Head at the first sunrise of the new year.
  1. More time to do your “own thing” whatever that may be as long as you did it in the safe confines of your home.
  2. There were tons of good, new music released in 2020. I certainly spent a lot of time listening to new music streaming mostly online.
  3. There were a few good movies and TV shows that left a memorable mark on me. The last installment of the third Star Wars trilogy was good for me. Even if it came out in late 2019, I did not see it until January 2020 at a theater. That was the last time I went to a movie at a theater.
  4. Video Streaming: Free and paid subscription streams grew a lot in 2020 as people stayed home and consumed hours of TV and movie videos. Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix and CBS All Access were the most popular paid streaming channels. On the free side YouTube videos continue to be popular as was Pluto TV, the Roku Channel and TUBI-TV.
  5. TikTok took off as a short form video content platform that allowed a lot of people to make total fools of themselves in front of the camera. This is the kind of stuff young people love. I guess to appear foolish at times helped with the stress from COVID-19. One guy on TikTok got the song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac through TikTok so popular again it reappeared as a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after a 43 year absence.
  6. Hawaii escaped the full brunt of Hurricane Douglas which churned from the far eastern part of the Pacific Ocean to give the state a close call in terms of disaster preparedness and public alertness. In the end the big storm lost its oomph as it veered mostly northwest of the Hawaiian islands. No other storms threatened the islands during the rest of the hurricane season.
  7. Kilauea volcano erupted in December 2020, but activity was only confined (so far) to the summit. No lava threatened any community, though volcanic haze known as VOG could pose a problem if the eruption lasts a long time.
  8. Honolulu and the Big Island of Hawaii elected new mayors in November. Hawaii County’s Mitch Roth will hopefully be a good mayor and help forward the progress of the long delayed TMT project on Mauna Kea. I remain somewhat hopeful that new Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi will lead the city in a more fiscally responsible direction. Here is hoping that the hugely expensive rail thing can be put to an end.
  9. There was a lot of time to engage in exercise such as walking, jogging or swimming whenever the powers to be declared it was safe enough to use public parks and trails. As a walker I often resorted to just walking on the sidewalks along the roadways.
  10. There were a few good astronomical events to observe in 2020. Early in the year a solar eclipse was streamed from around the other side of the world. We got to see an underwhelming display of a rare conjunction of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn in the far away skies. Lucky people who lived away from the bright lights of the city were also treated to see Comet NEOWISE in the night time skies. The United States finally got to launch not one but two manned spacecraft from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. Space X’s Crew Dragon missions proved to be successful jaunts to the International Space Station (ISS). Sunrises and sunsets were pretty whenever possible.

And in a nutshell that is my assessment of the upcoming year and a reflection on the mostly bad year prior. May you all have a Happy New Year.



Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.