Aloha means hello and it means goodbye but more than that it is a philosophy. In Hawai`i, the “Spirit of Aloha” is a widely used term which encompasses many different aspects of the self. It can mean inner peace, it can describe your attitude, and it can mean sharing or can mean happiness. It is most certainly one of those words that “You just can’t translate to English”, as it has nothing even remotely its equivalent in the English Language. To really get the feel of it one should hear it used in its many different contexts.

For a much better explanation of the idea and history of Aloha, please visit:
Aloha is a very powerful piece of software that makes the lives of restaurant workers oh so much happier. The Aloha POS provides a touch-screen interface for all aspects of the "hospitality business". While they offer several services, the Aloha TableService is probably the most widely used.

TableService is a touch-screen set of menus that allow most all aspects of restaurant business to be tracked. Access levels can be set, for wait staff, hostesses, managers, and chefs. Employees key in with a swipe card or with an employee number.

For waiters, Aloha allows them to ring up food rapidly. It's a touch-screen collapsible menu set. Main headings such as salads, soups, entrees, daily specials, mixed drinks, wines, etc are touched to reveal a listing of all the entries in that category. The menus are completely programmable to suit each restaurants needs. Aloha also has built-in credit card support, making check-out very easy. Because the system is so automated, splitting the bill in nearly any way imaginable is very easy. With a few touches, bills can be split in fractions, or split by items ordered. It's also easy to add a large party gratuity or ring up gift certificates.

For management, Aloha provides excellent data tracking. It keeps tabs on daily sales both overall and in many categories such as wines, keeps track on employee data such as sales or voids, and has many other useful financial options I did not get to explore as I was not a manager for the summer I worked at an Aloha-using restaurant.

Aloha TableService is widely used in restaurants, especially large chains that can afford the software. It is too costly at this point for many small, privately owned places to afford, but for those that have adopted it, Aloha is a huge benefit to the flow of business.

The ALOHA system was constructed to allow radio communication between machines in scattered places on the Hawaiian Islands. It is one of five classes of protocols used on the multiple access (uplink) channel of a communication satellite. The rest are FDM, TDM, CDMA, and polling.

Channel efficiency on ALOHA is only 18%. Using slotted ALOHA doubles this but then you have the problem of station synchronization, so all stations know when each time slot begins. The reference station, however, transmits a signal that is used by all ground stations as their time origin. Periodic resynchronization is necessary to the clocks, which run at slightly different rates, in phase.

A standard ALOHA system has one downlink channel and one uplink channel. A second uplink channel could be added to increase utilization. If both uplinks (in the dual uplink scheme) successfully transmit frames, the satellite can buffer a frame and transmit it during a later idle slot. A satellite with two uplink and one downlink channel slotted ALOHA channels can achieve a downlink utilization of 0.736, given an infinite amount of buffer space.

A word of many meanings.

Firstly, as most people know, aloha is a greeting. As fewer people know, it is also a way to say goodbye. But aloha means more than this. Aloha forms a sort of acronym or acrostic for the best qualities of the Hawai’ian people. As defined by The Aloha Spirit Law* (1986), they are:

akahai - meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness.
lokahi - meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony.
olu’olu - meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness.
ha’aha’a - meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty.
ahonui - meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

As an additional bonus meaning, aloha can be broken down into the root words alo - space - and ha - breath. Thus aloha can be translated as an invitation to “share my breath, share my space”.

A greeting, a farewell, an invitation, and a philosophy of life all in one word. Nifty.

* Section 5-7.5, Hawai'i Revised Statutes. In it “the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts” are instructed to practice the virtues of akahai, lokahi, olu’olu, ha’aha’a, and ahonui.
December 2002 National Geographic

Divine Breath

In a recent interview,1 Brian Keaulana of the famous Makaha surfing family said, "Aloha is enveloping someone with your whole essence or aura.  It's understanding the true essence of yourself and giving it to others." His words resonated deeply for me as they came at the end of a long dispiriting day playing my business role as a systems analyst and general digital janitor.  These are tough times in the world of commerce and that pressure seems to bring out the worst in people.  The politics of our times are also increasingly bitter and divisive with more name calling than cool rational thinking.  There's a scene in the Ghostbusters movies when a tidal wave of foamy purple ooze, pure evil incarnate, is threatening to engulf New York. That's the metaphor that had been haunting my day. If there were an exact opposite of Aloha, this would be it.

I've read explanations of the word Aloha that seem to dance around the meaning without ever getting down to the essence of it.  They say it means hello, and also goodbye, empathy, patience... Basically every squishy caricature of the laid back Polynesian lifestyle rolled into an easily digested fast food meme.  I used to work with a poser who always had a surfboard on his car, came into the office wearing Hawaiian print shirts and invariably greeted everyone with his trademark, "Aloha!!!" Embarrassing and sad to watch.

I can't pretend to any deep understanding of Aloha really, but I've experienced the kindness and grace of the Polynesians personally and perhaps that's the only way to really understand it. In any event, I thought I'd at least try to add some insight.

The word Aloha is a contraction of two concepts.  Alo means the human face or presence and ha means breath, or the breath of life.  Brian Keaulana explained that in ancient times, Hawaiians would touch their foreheads together and share breaths as a greeting, literally exchanging the sacred breath of life to show respect and acknowledge their connection. In the Hawaiian culture, words have an active spiritual power, known as mana, and the action of Aloha is an invocation of the divine, a moment of mutual reverence.  A shared prayer.

I think that simple acknowledgment of the spiritually divine is at the root of Aloha because it forces you to put yourself into perspective and reminds you to behave in a humble, thankful and gracious manner.

Aloha kâua!

Just for fun, here are some variations on the Aloha theme, courtesy of The Hawaiian Dictionary2 

Aloha `oe!
ah loh' hah oe!
May you be loved or greeted!
Farewell or greetings to one person.

Aloha kâua!
ah loh' hah KAH'oo (w)ah!
May there be friendship or love between us!
Greetings to you and me!

Ke aloha nô!
ah loh hah NOH'
Aloha indeed!



1 The Surfer's Path, Issue 76
2 Hawaiian Dictionary, Pukui, Mary Kawena & Elbert, Samuel H.,University of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, 1986.

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