Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 3)


L – God

The letter ‘L’ first emerged around 1800 BC as a hook-shaped symbol called “El”, a Semitic word for “God”.  Then, the Phoenicians got a hold of it, flipped it around and called it “lamed” (lah-med), which meant “cattle prod”.  Finally, the Romans came along and changed the hook shape into a right angle, giving the ‘L’ the form we know today.




M – Water

The Egyptians originated the ‘M’ as a vertical wavy line with five peaks, a symbol for “water”.  It was then reduced to three peaks, and then finally to two peaks by the Phoenicians, who also gave it a horizontal orientation, thus creating the modern ‘M’.





N – The Cobra

The second snake on our list (the first being the letter ‘J’), the Egyptians created the letter ‘N’ circa 1800 BC as a representation of a cobra.  The Semitics gave it the familiar ‘n’ sound, and the Greeks later renamed it “nu” about 800 years later.





O – The Eye

An Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “eye” and also called “ayin” by the Semitics, the letter ‘O’ ultimately got its current shape from the Phoenicians, who simplified the shape of the letter by making it a single circle.





P – The Mouth

You’ve likely seen the ubiquitous :p emoji, where the letter ‘P’ is used to symbolize a mouth.  But did you know the Semitics beat us to the punch 4,000 years ago?  The Phoenicians adapted the letter by adding a hook shape at the top.  The Romans closed the hook, flipped the letter around and in 200 BC gave the world the modern letter ‘P’.

Tis the Season for Savings

The holiday season is without a doubt the most wonderful time of the year…and also the most expensive.  Whether you’re trying to be the spookiest mansion on the hill or the brightest winter wonderland, holiday expenses can take a toll on your wallet!  However, making simple changes and conscious choices to your holiday lifestyle can cut your budget in half and extend your holiday fun!


Start a Holiday Fund
You don’t have to wait for the temperature to drop in order to start saving.  You can start as soon as you ring in the new year.  If you’re having a hard time remembering to set money aside, open up a holiday savings account!  Here at Hawaiian Financial FCU, you can open a Christmas Savings account with as little as $5 to help you put money away for the holidays.  Sign up for direct deposit to have funds automatically moved from your paycheck to your Christmas account every month.  Even just $20 a paycheck could have you saving a few hundred dollars for the holidays.  Your funds will be released to your checking or savings account on October 1st, giving you lots of time to plan for Halloween through Christmas!


Set Your Time
Like daylight saving time, your clocks aren’t the only things you should be adjusting during the winter.  One major part of Christmas are the bright lights and decorations.  Keeping these lights on for the season can really cause your electricity to hike for the month.  To combat these unnecessary overages, you can purchase a light timer to set your lights to turn on and off at designated times.  These timers are very affordable and you can buy them at your local hardware store.  Some Christmas lights even come with a built-in timer!  Setting your lights to shine from 7pm through midnight, as opposed to running all night and day, can make a big difference in your electricity bill.  Even better, purchase energy-efficient alternatives to save even more on your electricity!


Christmas All Year Round
As mentioned previously, you can start planning for the holidays as early as you want!  Although you can find great deals and steals during Black Friday and Christmas sales, there are great sales all throughout the year too!  Spread your holiday shopping out through the year so you won’t feel so financially burdened by the time Christmas comes around.  Here’s another great tip—don’t forget to check out the after holiday sales.  Wrapping paper, ornaments, even fake Christmas trees will be significantly marked down during the days after Christmas.  Taking advantage of these mark-downs can help lighten your financial load for the next Christmas.


Be Creative
Spending money doesn’t have to make or break your holiday.  Tis the season to be creative.  Can you MacGuyver a cinderblock into a Halloween tombstone?  Is there anything that you can use from your personal garden to spice up your Thanksgiving dinner?  Perhaps you can throw lights on the palm tree in your yard instead of buying a pricey Noble Fir.  Utilizing your talents to benefit others is a gift in itself.  Chocolate chip cookies and other homemade desserts are always a welcome Holiday treat.  A hand-crafted album of memories is enough to make any mother cry tears of joy.  You can’t put a price on gifts from the heart.


As we near the holiday season, keep in mind that it’s never too early to start preparing financially.  Simple changes can make a big difference.  What other ways can you save during the holidays?

Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 2)

gcamelG – The Camel

The letter ‘G’ was once known as the Phoenician letter ‘gimel’, which meant “camel”.  Many believe this was the inspiration for its shape.  Both the Phoenicians and the Greeks pronounced this letter with the familiar guttural ‘g’ sound.




hfenceH – The Fence

It’s not hard to see how the letter ‘H’ began as an Egyptian hieroglyphic of a fence.  One of the most controversial letters in the language, it was argued by ancient academics that the letter was an unnecessary one due to its breathy (non-consonant, non-vowel) sound.  Nevertheless, it has endured throughout the centuries.



ihandI – The Arm and Hand

We have the Greeks to thank for the vertical orientation of the letter ‘I’.  It began life as “yod”, and was originally a depiction of an arm and hand.





jsnakeJ – The Snake

Some believe the letter ‘J’ is a simple symbol of a snake.  However, others argue that because of its visual similarity to its alphabetical neighbor ‘I’, ‘J’ was often overlooked and not even considered a “real” letter of the alphabet until 400 years ago when the Spanish began adopting it heavily.  We’ll go with the snake explanation since it is easier to represent here!



khandK – The Open Palm

Turns out Star Trek’s Mr. Spock wasn’t only telling us to “live long and prosper,” with his famous hand signal, he was actually doing an accurate representation of the original ‘K’ or “kaph” (meaning ‘palm of the hand’).  The Greeks then renamed it “kappa” and flipped it around to its current and familiar orientation.

Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 1)

Since we first learned to read and write as children, our minds made a clear distinction between pictures and words.  What we often forget, however, is that the words we write are made up of letters that were originally conceived as pictures.  (Feel free to read that sentence again, if you have to.)  Our modern letters are quite literally an “alphabet soup” of ancient Egyptian, Semitic, Greek and Roman symbols.

In this series of articles, we will explore the history of our alphabet and how each letter came to have its specific shape.  Read on to discover the surprising origins of the letters A through F.



A – The ox head

Turn an ox head upside down for a clue as to how the letter A originally got it’s shape.  The letter, which first came into use around 1800 B.C. represents an animal with antlers and translated to ancient Semitic as “ox.”






B – The house

Lie the letter “B” down for a nap and you see what resembles a house with a door, a room and a flat roof.  It was originally pronounced like our modern-day “h” and was a pictogram representing ‘shelter’ used by the Egyptians.




C – The boomerang

The letter “c” began as a Phoenician representation of a boomerang.  Simple enough, right?  But it went through several permutations by the Greeks and the Romans before finally taking the shape we know today.





D – The door

The Phoenicians’ word for ‘door’ was ‘dalet’ and they represented it with a triangle, tipped up on its side.  Later, the Greeks began using it and called it ‘delta.’  The Roman’s contribution was to soften the triangle with a semi-circle and voila — the modern day ‘D’ was born.






E – The human figure

The Semitics created the ‘E’ (although they pronounced it as “h”) to represent a human figure with two arms and a leg.  Originally, these appendages pointed to the left.  Later however, the Greeks flipped it around, and began pronouncing it as “e.”





F – The hook

Most experts agree the letter ‘f’ was originally meant as a representation of a hook, and was once pronounced as “waw.”  The Romans are credited with the modern-day look of the F, introducing the hard straight lines that we now use.


HAWAIIANTEL Fraudulent E-mail

It has recently come to our attention that a fraudulent e-mail is circulating the internet under the Hawaiian Tel name.  If you received an e-mail from HAWAIIANTEL with the subject line, “URGENT – Browser Update..” please do not open the e-mail, nor click any links or buttons within the e-mail.  Clicking on links or buttons could compromise your personal information or potentially unleash a virus into your computer.  Delete the e-mail right away!

Below is a sample of what the e-mail may look like:



Here are a few tips to follow when you come across a suspicious e-mail like the one above:

Pay attention to the Sender.
Is the Sender really who they say they are?  If the e-mail is coming from someone you know, check to see that their e-mail address is the same as the one you have saved.  If you need to, give that person a call to ask if they really did send the e-mail.

If the e-mail is from someone you don’t know, just delete it.  If it was something important, then the sender should know how to reach you via other means.

Use the hover method. 
Instead of clicking on links, hover your mouse over the link instead.  In the bottom left of your browser window, the URL for the link will appear.  This is a good way to check if the link will actually lead you to where it says it would, or if it will lead you to a completely different scam site.

Use your common sense. 
Take a look at the layout of the e-mail.  Typos are a good indicator that the e-mail is a fraud.  Although the scam e-mail above doesn’t have any typos, there are still a few indicators that prove that it’s not really from Hawaiian Tel FCU:
–  There’s no logo, no mention of any of our locations, and no mention of our website
–  Funky formats: A huge red flag is how the e-mail displays the Credit Union’s name.  Although the e-mail is from HAWAIIANTEL, that is not a format that our Credit Union uses for our name.  You’ve seen Hawaiian Tel FCU and HiTel FCU for short, but never HAWAIIANTEL.  Another funky format, the beginning of the e-mail lists the date as 18 August instead of August 18th.
–  Has HiTel FCU ever e-mailed you to update your browser before?  It’s safe to say that we would never reach out to you via e-mail just to ask you to update your browser

It never hurts to ask.
If you’re really not sure if the e-mail is legitimate or not, it doesn’t hurt to call.  Especially if it’s a company that you do business with, like HiTel FCU or other financial institutions, a quick phone call to the company in question will let you know right away if they really sent the e-mail or not.


This has been a good reminder for all of us to be vigilant when we peruse through our e-mail messages.  Again, please do not click on any links or buttons.  And remember.. when in doubt, don’t.


Useful Tips for Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Emergency SuppliesIt’s been a hot summer so far, but with hot summers also come heavy rains, and possible hurricanes.  Hurricane Season runs from June 1st through November 30th every year.    Hurricanes are a triple-threat disaster that could bring heavy rain, heavy winds, and flooding.  This season, we were lucky to avoid Hurricane Hector, but it was a good reminder to prepare for when disaster may strike.  Here are a few useful tips for disaster preparedness:


Stay Up-to-Date
Thanks to today’s technology, there are so many different ways to get real time information on hurricanes and other impending natural disasters.  Tune in to your TV or radio for your trusted news source.  Check your phone or computer for current updates on Social Media.  Did you know that certain social media platforms also allow you to mark yourself “safe” during a known disaster in your area?


Know Your Escape Routes
Some disasters may call for an evacuation.  In the event that you do need to leave, make sure you have a route (and an alternate route!) planned out.  If you are ordered to leave, do so right away; waiting or ignoring the order can be dangerous.  Make sure all family members are accounted for, including pets.  Check if your local shelter will allow pets; if they don’t, have an alternative plan to keep them safe.


Secure Your Home
While certain disasters require you to leave, other scenarios might force you to shelter in place.  In the event that you are stuck at home, make sure your house is secure and safe enough to stay in.  Stock up on material that you can use to board up your windows during strong winds.  Keep a generator handy for when the power goes out.


Stock Up on Food
Generally speaking, you should have enough food to last 3 days per person.  However, because Hawaii is so isolated and it may take longer for help to come during a disaster, it is suggested that you should stock up on food to last at least a couple of weeks.  The best food to stock up on are non-perishables, such as canned food, cereals, canned juice, protein bars, dried food.  If you have a baby, don’t forget to stock up on baby food for them and also pet food for your pets.