Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Song of the South?

Anthony Duda of England had set up a charity for Tanzanian children, and wanted to promote it to the world. So he did what he thought was the most logical thing to do – he changed his first name.

To … (are you ready for this?) … Zipardi.

Zipardi Duda. My oh my, what a wonderful name! Plenty of sunshine goin’ his way. Zipardi Duda, Dipardi … hey! And apparently, the Disney Company gave him their blessings.

He did this in January 2002. Why am I only hearing about this now?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Park Walk 'Unusualities'

On my Monday walks at Waterfront Park, I try to be on the lookout for unusual things and occurrences. There were a few today:

1. A rubbish barrel had tipped over in the strong sustained wind coming off the ocean today, and the wind was blowing the poly rubbish bag inside out like a huge balloon (see picture to the right). It normally wouldn’t have been doing that, but the bottom of the barrel had rusted away.

2. I saw one of the park's many feral cats lying on the walkway, rubbing its belly against the ground as it crawled forward. I guess it had fleas or some kind of unhealthy itch. Looked pretty strange. Y’know, I even forgot to take a picture of it.

3. There were a lot of plovers there today in the grassy expanses. I counted 17. Normally I’d only see about a dozen. Hmmmm, I wonder if the birds were playing a trick on me and relocating to another spot ahead of me after I’d counted them?

4. I found a pair of women’s soppy cotton panties (or maybe it was a little toddler’s pants) on the seawall. I picked it up with a branch and tossed it in the rubbish barrel (not the one with the “windsock” bag). Hope the owner didn’t want it back!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Are ...

A happy thought that brightens mind,
A smile that warms the face,
A jewel hidden I must find,
A song to mark my place.

A gentle touch that soothes the soul,
A whisper that I long for,
A presence that will make me whole,
A hand to open door.

A crystal drop that lights my heart,
A shiver of emotion,
An emptiness when we kiss and part,
An ocean of devotion.

(I wrote this little poem in November 2005.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Na La’au o Hawai’i: Hawaii’s Woodshow 2008

You probably missed it – the 16th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition that opened a three-day run today at the Hawaii Convention Center. And if you did, you’d better just mark your 2009 calendars the first chance you get and make sure you don’t miss next year’s show.

Sponsored annually by the Hawai’I Forest Industry Association, the show features many of the state’s outstanding wood artists, whose work is juried by three judges.

The “Best in Show” Award was won by R.W. Scheurenbrand for his “Arch-Top Guitar” (see the first picture); I checked my program for his asking price, but it’s not for sale.

Here are a few more pieces to covet:

The 105 displayed works, of course, are for sale. But unless you’ve got a hefty checkbook, don’t even dream of owning one of the more expensive pieces. Prices ranged from $50 for a pen set to $50,000 for a piece called “Waiomina” by Robert Holden.

The vision of the artists, their creativity, their knowledge of wood, and their talent in realizing the medium’s full potential is simply awe-inspiring. I walked around snapping picture after picture, wishing that I owned some of the pieces.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Polar Bear Debby is Gone

There was a story on CNN and in the local newspaper a couple of days ago, chronicling the death of Debby, the world’s oldest living polar bear that died in a Winnipeg, Canada zoo.

She had been captured as a cub in 1966, and had been living in the zoo since 1967. That would make her 41 years old when she was euthanized due to increasing poor health and internal problems.

Apparently, polar bears thrive in captivity. The average life span in the wild is 25 to 30 years, but most don’t make it to 20. In zoos, however, they can live up to 45 years.

Tell that to anyone you see holding “Free the Polar Bears” signs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I’ll Have a Chili Moco, Please

I’m sure you’ve had one of those days when you woke up hungry and could almost taste a particular dish, then spent the next few hours wishing you could have it for breakfast or lunch.

That’s the way I woke up this morning – with a desire to have a chili moco for breakfast.

What the heck is a chili moco, you ask. It’s a variant of loco moco. And what the heck is a LOCO moco? Okay, I’ll tell you. Loco moco was born at KK’s Place in Hilo when I was in high school (early ‘60s) and has become a popular addition in most Hawaii restaurants. It’s a bowl of rice under a hamburger patty, smothered with brown gravy, and topped with one or two eggs done the way you want. Chili moco replaces the gravy with chili con carne.

So I went to Zippy’s for breakfast and ordered (I thought) a chili moco. Michelle brought me a loco moco. I told her I thought I’d ordered a chili moco. No problem she said, and brought the bowl back into the kitchen. Now, I probably HAD ordered loco moco in error, but she said she had misheard me. That was nice of her.

As I read my morning paper and sipped on my coffee, I could hear her telling the cook off and on to be careful with the eggs and don’t break the yolks ‘cause the guy who was on the TV news and first in line to get the flag stamps was the customer waiting for it.

The replacement was ready in a zippy. (Get it?) I’ve had my chili moco and all is well with the world.

Aren’t they nice at Zippy’s?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Champion BeachBoys!

The 2008 Hawaii Winter Baseball championship game was played today at Les Murakami Stadium, University of Hawaii at Manoa, a season-ending confrontation between the two division leaders – the West Oahu CaneFires and the Waikiki BeachBoys.

It was a fun Sunday at the ballpark. I got to see a 3-run homerun by the BeachBoys, I got to see the CaneFires third-baseman take a tumble on the pitcher’s mound as he raced in to catch an infield pop fly (he dropped it), I got to do the arm dance to “YMCA,” and I got to munch on some yummy roasted peanuts.

I got to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” for the umpteenth time in my life (it NEVER gets old), I got to inhale some Magoo’s pizza before the game, I got to laugh at all five silly-looking mascots for the first time this year, and I got to turn in a Sony digital camera that someone had left in my seat the night before.

The stands were pretty much filled up today, more fans in the seats than I’d ever seen for any game this past season. Guess the West Oahu people turned out in force.

All in all, it was a good day.

Oh … I almost forgot. The Waikiki BeachBoys won the game and the championship, 5-1. They were happy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Annual Fall Rose Show

A story in this morning’s paper alerted me to a rose exhibition that was open today at the Kahala Mall, which is generally thought of as Honolulu’s most upscale shopping mall, situated in an affluent residential/business area of Honolulu.

Having little else to do today, I pocketed my camera and headed over to the show. As it turns out, it wasn’t a very large show, but the flowers were immensely impressive. I’m was glad I took my camera along and started snapping away.

Anybody who missed the announcement, or who isn’t tuned in to the Honolulu Rose Society’s newsletters and/or website, or who wasn’t at the mall by chance today, won’t get another chance until next year. Too bad … wish you could have been there.

Here are a few more rose pictures to drool over.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jennifer vs. Angelina

*Yawn* I woke up a little early this morning and turned on the TV. Showbiz Tonight was on CNN Headline News and they were talking about Jennifer Aniston being upset with Angelina Jolie for stealing Brad Pitt away from her.

Yadda yadda yadda. Just as I was about to change the channel and get away from all that nonsense, they flashed the results of a CNN telephone poll asking who viewers sided with – Aniston or Jolie.

Apparently, many people are upset at “the other woman,” because 70% (Team Aniston) favored Jennifer, with only 30% favoring Angelina (Team Jolie).

Wow. Who knew? Ask ME if I care. Go ahead, ask me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Somebody Explain This to Me

In an official news release (August 5, 2008), Max Hofheinz and two other University of California at Santa Barbara physicists announced that they used a superconducting electronic circuit known as a Josephson phase qubit, developed in a laboratory, to controllably pump microwave photons, one at a time, into a superconducting microwave resonator.

"The resonator is the electrical equivalent of a pendulum," Hofheinz said. "In quantum mechanics the energy, or amplitude of motion of this pendulum, only comes in finite steps, in quanta. We first carefully prepared the resonator in these quantum states, and showed we could do this controllably and then measure the states.

“Then we 'kicked' the pendulum directly, a method where the amplitude can take on any value, and appears to not be limited to these quanta. But when we look at the resonator with our qubit, we see that the amplitude does come in steps, but that the resonator is actually in several such states at the same time, so that on average it looks like it is not limited to the quantum states."

I kid you not!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Veteran's Day Tribute

... Honoring the 442nd Regimental Combat Team from Hawaii that fought in World War II.

Two years ago, I paid tribute to the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team from Hawaii that fought in World War II by issuing this cover picturing the color guard at attention. I made 50 of these.

The 442nd, aka “The Purple Heart Battalion,” was composed primarily of Japanese-Americans, and served in Europe in Italy, France and Germany. It was the most highly decorated unit in the history of the U.S. armed forces, with 21 Medal of Honor recipients.

During a time when Japanese-Americans were being interned in camps by the U.S. Government, many soldiers of the Hawaii National Guard, along with volunteers, joined the Army (2,900 men from Hawaii, and 1,500 from the mainland). The battalion was designated the 100th Infantry Battalion – the “One Puka Puka” (“puka” means “hole” in Hawaiian) – and was a part of the 442nd.

According to Wikipedia: “The 442nd is commonly reported to have suffered a casualty rate of 314 percent, informally derived from 9,486 Purple Hearts divided by some 3,000 original in-theater personnel.” Compare this to the official U.S. casualty rate in World War II of 93 percent.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Monday Walk in the Park

The wife and I go for a long walk every Monday at Honolulu’s Waterfront Park in the Kakaako area. It’s one of the prettiest areas of the city, washed by a cool sea breeze and the sound of the surf hitting the sea rocks.

Today’s walk was additionally rewarding. In addition to the green grass and trees, the ocean and the sky, the surf was up. The area is also known as Point Panic and if you have an early evening dinner at John Dominis Restaurant, you can watch the surfers ride the waves. There’s no beach to land at, so they drop off their ride before they can crash on the sea wall of huge rocks.

I walked out to the end of a seawall to take this picture. That made me a little nervous; my balance isn’t all that it used to be when I was younger.

And, I finally was able to take a picture of a white cattle egret. Last week, we spotted three of them cavorting on the expansive lawn, following a riding lawn mower and snatching up the displaced insects in its wake. There was only one there today, but one was enough!

It was a fast bugger, and I couldn’t get closer than 20 feet or so before he’d scurry off on those long legs of his. Good thing my camera takes high megapixel photos so I can enlarge and crop the picture!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Home Grown Boys in Winter League

Kala Ka’aihue and Kaimi Mead

Two local Honolulu high school baseball stars are getting in some extra practice and playing time in the Hawaii Winter Baseball league, as members of the Honolulu Sharks.

In today’s game against the Waikiki Beach Boys, Kala Ka’aihue and Kaimi Mead played significant roles as the Sharks powered over the Beach Boys in the last Sunday game of the season.

Ka’aihue drove in the Sharks’ second run with a screaming line drive into right field, allowing his teammate on third to scurry home. Mead pitched two scoreless innings to help keep the Beach Boys at bay.

First-baseman Ka’aihue is a 2003 graduate of Iolani High School in Honolulu. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 22nd round (654th overall) in the 2003 draft, and was signed by the Braves as a free agent in 2005. He is currently a first baseman for the Mississippi Braves (AA), and was named the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs after helping his team capture the Southern League Championship.

Left-handed pitcher Mead is a 2003 graduate of Roosevelt High School where he lettered in paddling and baseball. He was drafted out of Hawaii Pacific College in 2008 by the Cleveland Indians in 18th Round (561st overall). This year, he achieved a 5-8 record with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

There are more Hawaii players in HWB, but these two were playing in the game I attended today. Very impressive indeed.

(These photos were taken using my Sony Super SteadyShot [DSC-T70] camera from the stands.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit

You’ve heard that cliché before. In business, “Pick the low-hanging fruit” simply means to take the easiest deal. Its derivation is obvious. The lowest fruit on a tree is the easiest to pick. You simply reach up and pluck it off.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been eying some guavas on a neighbor’s tree that’s been hanging over our driveway, one in particular. Each day it got yellower and yellower. Each day I could see the pesky bulbul birds also giving it the eye.

Today, I succumbed and picked the guava. I mean, it was just hanging there, low and easy to grab. I think I’ll let it sit for a day or so, then slice it up and enjoy the watermelon-pink flesh with vigor, which I’m sure will take me back to my youth when we used to raid wild guava trees on bike rides in Hilo, Hawaii, where I grew up.

My grandmother’s words will echo in my mind as I eat the guava: “Don’t eat too many guavas, or the seeds will collect in your appendix and you’ll have to get an operation.”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Two Great Election Night Speeches

We held an election in America yesterday. One man won, one man lost. But the man who lost emerged a winner in my heart, to stand alongside that man who won. When all is said and done, the United States of America is the winner because of what these two men said in their final speeches of the Presidential campaign.

Both were eloquent, both were inspiring.

Sen. John McCain’s concession speech moved me to tears as he called for a reconciliation of Americans and asked us all to cherish our citizenship.

“I’ve always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Sen. Obama believes that too,” Sen. McCain told America.

“In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.”

“Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We MAKE history,” Sen. McCain concluded.

It was almost as if Sen. Barack Obama picked up where Sen. McCain’s speech left off.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” he said in his opening.

He paid tribute to Sen. McCain: “He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for American that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.”

His words also brought me to tears as he issued his challenge to America.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people WILL get there.

“There will be setbacks and fall starts … I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

President-Elect Obama talked about 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper, who was wheeled over to her Atlanta polling place on a hospital gurney and voted by touching her finger to a screen placed on her bed. I felt my heart in my throat.

And I felt hope rise up within me as he concluded: “This is our chance … this is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”

Two thoughts:

1. If Sen. McCain had campaigned using the sincere tone and passion that punctuated his concession speech, and not evoked a combative spirit in the final month of the campaign, the election possibly may have turned his way. That was the John McCain that I was leaning toward voting for early in the campaign.

2. President-Elect Obama is an inspiring speaker with deep and inspiring words. The sincerity of his messages and the hope they carried swayed me to vote for him. Now all I want is for him to do the work he was elected to do, and lead us in fixing the country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Annual HSNA Coin Show

This past weekend, I spent my waking hours at the annual coin show of the Hawaii State Numismatic Association at the Hawaii Convention Center. Three days of being one of three stamp dealers in the largest coin show in Honolulu – in the entire state, actually.

This was the second straight year that I participated as a seller. My sales both years have been enough to make back my table fee and expenses, plus a small profit. If you work out the finances of the thing, I earned 52 cents for every hour I spent during the show itself.

Not the best investment in time and money, but all-in-all, it was worth it and fun. Lots of my regulars stopped by, as well as people I see only once or twice a year when I set up at the larger shows. One of the customers brought packaged Japanese crackers and passed them out to the dealers. Being that Friday was Halloween, I dug up some old Halloween covers I made (2006) and put them on sale for a buck apiece. I sold a dozen or so.

The hardest part of the show was lifting cover-stamp-filled suitcases into my car trunk and back seat – five of them in all, each weighing from 25 to 100 pounds apiece. Had to lift them in and out four times; my back is sore today.

A newspaper photographer dropped by my table on Sunday and took some pictures of a customer digging through my boxes of covers. His picture didn’t make it into the paper this morning, however. Shucks. I could have become famous through association.

It was fun. I’m debating whether or not to do it again next year, especially since they’re raising the table fee. We’ll see … but I’m inclined to think that I will.