Saturday, October 22, 2016

Waking Up ...

... is so very hard to do.

When I was younger (way, way younger), I was probably like you when YOU were way, way younger. We didn't want to go to bed early, primarily because we weren't sleepy.

And then, we didn't want to wake up in the morning because we were still sleepy and "needed" a few more minutes, or a couple of hours, of additional shut-eye.

Hence the conundrum of younger days: Why did we have to go to sleep when we weren't sleepy, and wake up when we were? No good answer to that one.

But now I'm older, and my problem is that I fall asleep too early, and wake up too early. Waking up is a pain, but not falling back to sleep is even worse.

I never used to be able to nap, try as I might. These days, however, an afternoon nap isn't so hard. The body cells and droopy eyes demand it, actually, so I just give in.

Waking up is so very hard to do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Phone Pix 75: Pumpkins

Nothing says "Autumn" more than pumpkins. Well, maybe colorful trees. But we don't have those in Hawaii, so pumpkins will have to suffice.

These photos were taken with my mobile phone at Safeway Manoa (first four, Sept. 14, 2016), and Costco Iwilei (last one, Sept. 29, 2016).

Oh my, pumpkin pie!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

It’s Not British Slang for …

So what the heck is a “bollard”? The first time I saw the word, which was fairly recently (this year, in fact), I read it as “bollocks.” Y’know, the English slang word for “nonsense,” or “useless.”

So where did I see the word? In the Atlas Obscura weekly email newsletter of strange and almost unearthy occurrences and locations. An April 8 article (“What Are Bollards, And Why Are They Beautiful?”) talked about photographer Andrew Choate, a resident of California’s Canyon Country.

While photographing the backs of buildings, he noticed a lot of pole barriers. Bollards. Originally metal posts used to moor a ship, they now serve as barriers to separate cars from buildings, fixtures, and … us.

The article opened my eyes and I started noticing bollards wherever I went. Like Choate, I’ve started photographing them whenever I remember to. To wit: 

Oakland Airport Car Rental Center

Costco Iwilei Honolulu In-Warehouse

Costco Iwilei Entrance
(These Serve a Double Duty as Trash Cans!)

Costco Iwilei Food Court

Oakland Airport Hertz Rental

Kuakini Hospital Hale Pulama Mau Driveway

Kuakini Hospital Hale Pulama Mau Entrance

Makiki Post Office

Safeway Beretania Down Escalator

Safeway Beretania Cart Return

Silliman Aquatic Center Entrance, Fremont, CA

Target Entrance, Pacific Commons, Fremont, CA

They’re actually quite unnoticeable because we're so used to them just going about their daily work. But now that I’ve called your attention to bollards, I bet you’re going to notice them all over the place.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

It's Bosch, B'Gosh

I found another excellent drama series that you can only see if you are a member of Amazon Prime—Bosch, about an LAPD detective introduced by novelist Michael Connelly. Connolly also authored The Lincoln Lawyer, which was developed into a 2011 movie starring Matthew McConoughey.

Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch is a veteran detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. He's pretty high profile, earning fame years earlier when Hollywood paid him handsomely to use his name for the lead (he calls it "technical advisor") in a highly rated TV series.

Bosch has appeared in 20 Connelly novels, The Black Echo (1992) being the first.

Personality-wise, Harry Bosch is uncompromising, a pretty serious guy who has a problem with authority. When told not to do something (which is pretty often), Bosch goes ahead and does it anyway. And that of course, gets him into trouble. But ... it usually turns out that he's right.

Bosch enjoys a solid supporting cast: 
  • Partner Det. Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector): Clothes horse, efficient, smart and loyal.
  • Boss Lt. Grace Billets (Amy Aquino): Tough, understanding, down-to-earth with an uncensored mouth.
  • Bureau Commander Dep. Chief Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick): Always watching for threats to position and career.
  • Ex-wife Eleanor Wish (Sarah Clark): Former FBI agent, expert profiler, professional poker player.
  • Teenage daughter Maddie Bosch Madison Lintz), rather innocent but smart, headstrong, impulsive and curious.
  • Girlfriend, rookie cop Julia Brasher (Annie Wersching), not very ethical, recurring after season one.
I've just finished season one, which was based on three of Connelly's books. I'm now watching season two, based on three different books. Season three will start soon (either this fall, or early 2017) on Amazon Prime video.

I recommend this series, which I watch on my Roku 3. It's smart, it's gripping, and it's so damned entertaining. I think you'll like it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pronunciation Counts

I like Alton Brown, and his show "Good Eats," but like most Anglo-Americans, he murders a lot of Japanese words, mispronouncing: 
  • Dashi (flavored broth) as DOH-shi. It's DAH-shi.
  • Konbu (kelp) as KAHN-boo. It's KOHN-bu.
  • Oishi (tasty) as o-WEE-shi. It's OY-shi.

To the practiced ear of someone like me, who's grown up with a familiarity of Japanese terms, it just sounds silly. Correct pronunciation of foreign words is important; American, Canadian, English or Australian accents must be left on the table.

Forget the pearl-shaped tones. Be harsh. I heard a comedian once say that when you speak Japanese, you have to sound constipated. Funny, and pretty close to the truth.

Putting the ac-CENT on the wrong sil-LA-ble makes the speaker sound goofy. Hispanics usually have no trouble with Japanese words and names because their language generally follows the same rules as Asian languages.

And, to further confuse the Caucasian tongue, in Japanese the letter "A" is always pronounced "ah." "E" is pronounced "eh," "l" is pronounced "Ee," and "U" is pronounced "oo." Only "O" is pronounced the same—"oh."

When I moved to Los Angeles in the mid-'50s to attend Woodbury College, my professors (and practically every Caucasian I met, by the way) called me "Maya-MOTTO." So wrong. I always had to correct them: "It's 'MIA' as in 'Mia Farrow,' and 'moto' as in 'Mr. Moto.' MIA-moto.

"Think of the Japanese samurai, Miyamoto Musashi."


... (Silence)

All of this reminds me of the time I dropped into a knife shop in a New Orleans shopping mall and overheard the store clerk talking to a well-dressed young man about Japanese swords. He obviously was trying to impress a naive buyer and make a sale.

He kept pronouncing katana as ka-TAH-na. Over and over again, ad nauseum

I couldn't stand it anymore, interrupted and corrected him in front of the potential customer: "Excuse me, but it's not pronounced 'ka-TAH-na' ... it's pronounced "KAHT-a-NAH."

His forehead squinched and his shoulders sagged. The customer laughed, thanked me and walked out chuckling.

I felt a little bad about ruining his sale, but a yonsei (fourth generation, pronounced YON-sei) Japanese-American has got to do what he's got to do.

P.S., And it's "kara-OH-keh," not "Kerry-oky." That one's just plain STOO-pit.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Phone Pix 74: Lawyers' Waiting Room

The wife and I recently visited our lawyer's office to update our wills and other legal stuff. After they planted us in their waiting area, I dd a little wandering and began snapping some phone pix of their decor--pretty nice selection, if I do say so myself.

It's the offices of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel in downtown Honolulu. The flowers are all real, no fakes here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hilo Days: It Weren’t No Chopsticks

I was born with a perpetual musical earworm in my head. Dad could play the violin, banjo and harmonica, and he passed on his musical genes to me. Not only did I take piano lessons, I ended up playing the clarinet in the Hilo Intermediate and Hilo High School bands.

In college, some friends and I formed a folk-singing group and I played the tenor ukulele, guitar and recorder.

Here’s the story I wrote about my piano adventures in my old Hilo Days website.

A Born Pianist

That summer [of 1956], I picked up two more activities. I adopted stamp collecting all on my own, but piano lessons were forced on me.

Mom and Dad always came up with stuff to cramp my style. If it wasn't Japanese School, it was those consarned piano lessons.

Sister Dayle had started taking piano lessons a couple of years before and was really not bad at all. This being the case, our parents decided to buy a piano.

Now, a family cannot have a piano in the house with only one child able to play. Actually, I think they had a grand plan in their heads all the time. The plan was for all their children to take piano lessons.

They succeeded.

After Dayle had proved that musical talent ran in the family, it was time for Craig to learn music. Then Audrey, then Eric, then Karen.

Much to everyone's surprise, I turned out to be quite good. My regular teacher had quit after I'd been taking lessons for a year or so (it was not my fault), and Mrs. Kunitomo, who ran the studio, took me under her wing.

I remember my first lesson with her. I wasn't doing so well sight-reading a new piece she had given me, so she started scolding me and telling me that I really needed to practice more. Then, she asked me how long I had been taking lessons, and I said one year, and she got quiet real fast.

"Really? I thought you were a fourth-year student! Then, you're good!"

The Miyamoto Legend grows …

The highlight of my piano career was a duet I played with a fellow student in a recital at the Gaspro auditorium. The piece was "The March of Wooden Soldiers." He played the first piano part and I played the second piano, and we brought down the house with the lively piece.

Our teacher at that time was Miss Shinn, and that magnificent performance and resulting accolade kind of made up for an earlier recital she put on, where everything went wrong. Students had forgotten their music, the duets were out of synch, music sheets fell off the piano, and I got confused at one point and had to stop for a second before continuing.

I continued with my lessons through my sophomore year in high school, before I was allowed to retire. Throughout high school though, I bought popular sheet music and continued to play. As usual, Mom and Dad were right. Piano lessons instilled a deep of appreciation of music in me during my adolescent years.

My own two sons would benefit from this experience as well. When they were kids, we forced them to take lessons. Call it "passing on the agony."

Speaking of the piano, Obachan surprised me one day. Out of the clear blue, she decided to play the piano. I don't ever recall her touching the piano before, and I'm sure she never had a lesson in her life. On this day, however, she sat down and began plinking out a tune — for some reason, Red River Valley sticks in my mind.

And one day, as I was playing Elvis' It's Now or Never, she walked over and asked, "Where'd you learn to play Back to Sorrento"?

Sometimes, Obachan could be amazing. You just never knew what she could do, or knew.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Where Hawaii Ranks 47

Hawaii is an expensive place to live. We who live here tend to forget that sometimes. I feel it's my duty as a loud-mouth blogger to bring this up time and again.

So here we go ... again. But I'll start off with something a bit more optimistic.

Least-Stressed City (WalletHub, 2016) 
  1. Fremont, CA
  2. Irvine, CA
  4. Madison, WI
  5. San Jose, CA

Most Expensive Coffee (The Council for Community and Economic Research, 2015) 
  1. HONOLULU, HI ($7.56 average per cup)
  2. (Tie) San Francisco, CA ($5.99)
  3. (Tie) Kodiak, AK ($5.99)
  4. Oakland, CA ($5.98)
  5. Olympia, WA ($5.89)

Highest Overall Tax Burden (WalletHub, 2016) 
  1. New York (13.12%)
  2. HAWAII (11.86%)
  3. (Tie) Maine (11.13%)
  4. (Tie) Vermont (11.13%)
  5. Connecticut (10.9%)

Worst State to Make a Living (Moneyrates, 2016) 
  2. Oregon
  3. West Virginia
  4. Maine
  5. California

Where $100 Is Worth Least (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2014) 
  1. District of Columbia ($84.67)
  2. HAWAII ($85.62)
  3. New York ($86.43)
  4. New Jersey ($87.34)
  5. California ($88.97)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Things I Didn’t Know

It’s amazing how ignorant I am. For example, I did not know that:
  • If you get a kidney transplant, the original ones stay put. The new one goes in your pelvis.
  • From the time of its discovery until it was stripped of planetary status, Pluto still hadn’t made a complete orbit around the sun.
  • Matches were invented after lighters.
  • Raise the bed of Lake Superior and both North and South America would be under a foot of water.
  • If caffeine is your enemy but you love coffee, drink a darker blend; lighter coffee has more caffeine.
  • Suitcase wheelies didn’t exist until we went to the moon.
  • Saudi Arabia, with all its desert, imports its camels – from Australia.
  • It rains diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter.

I did not know that, did you?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Phone Pix 73: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Bed, Bath & Beyond always seems to display some intriguing items on their sales shelves. They simply invite customers to snap their picture. So who am I to pass up the opportunity.

Here are some pix I took the last time I visited the BB&B at the Fremont Hub in California on April 19, 2016: