Thursday, January 29, 2009

And Another Thing …

Waterfront Park was invaded by a group of young Japanese tourists while we were there on Monday.

One of our routes starts us off at the east end of the waterfront walk, and after watching the surfers at Point Panic for a bit, we turned to begin the long walk.

Lo and behold, a passel of young women and a few young men, all wearing what looked like flight attendant uniforms was walking toward us. So we stopped and watched for a while – 10, 20, a whole busload was coming.

And then another bus unloaded and the young people in THAT bus joined the original group.

There must have been a hundred of them. I would have asked who they were, but I was too wrapped up watching.

Some of the young women in one small group flashed peace signs at us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Clowder of Cats

Waterfront Park was crawling with cats yesterday – there must have been at least a dozen and a half prancing around the place, some in loose groups of as many as five, most of them loners skittering away from the people walking on the paths.

Feral pussies abound at this park, where a lady comes to feed them out of tuna cans every day, providing them with fresh water as well. For cats without a home, they sure look healthy and well-fed.

I didn’t have my camera with me, but I did have my cell phone and was able to snap a couple of decent pix:

Sunning on the rocks next to the ocean

A little "cluck cluck" caught her attention

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Hawaii Local ‘Accent’

People who were born and raised in Hawaii often have an identifiable accent that is not exactly Hawaiian ebonics (what we call “pidgin English”) but I guess is kind of an offshoot of it.

First, a clarification: You’ll notice I didn’t say “Hawaiian.” People outside our state often refer to our residents as Hawaiians, just as we would refer to residents of other states as Californians or Illini or Floridians. If there were no native Hawaiians then I guess that would be acceptable, but it’s not an accurate description of Hawaii residents. In fact, those with Hawaiian ancestry would find it quite objectionable and offensive. Okay, that’s taken care of.

Here’s an example of the accent: How would you pronounce the word “street”?

Most Americans would say “s-chreet,” ‘cause that’s the way they taught us in school. Or, if we are more particular in our pronunciation and conscious of what we say, we’d say “s-treet,” as it was meant to be pronounced.

But in Hawaii, many say “sh-chreet.” I don’t know what it is about the letters “str” at the start of the word. It’s just shchrange how local Hawaii people shchruggle with those three little letters.
That’s enough for today. But I promise that I’ll shchress more peculiarities of the Hawaii local accent later.

Friday, January 23, 2009

ObaMAnia Silliness

Zippy’s, Honolulu’s famous coffee shop, jumped on the Obama-Mania (ObaMAnia) bandwagon this month by discounting their saimin soup (Zip Min) at a discount.

They discounted the soup $1.20 because the inauguration of President Barack Obama (being claimed as a hometown boy by the people of Hawaii) took place on Jan. 20 (1/20).

Their saimin soup is really very delicious, but this ObaMAnia thing in Hawaii is really getting silly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Underwater Ironing Record Topped!

The previous record for the most people ironing underwater at the same time, held by the Australians, was broken this week by a team in England.

Eighty-six extreme ironists of the Yorkshire Divers topped the Aussies’ previous high of 72 (set in Melbourne, Australia last year) at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow, Wales.

Their efforts raised £6,000 (about $8,250) for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Each of the ironists had to iron one item of linen within a 10-minute time limit while totally submerged in 41-degree water.

Although 128 qualified divers participated, many were disqualified for starting too early, or for exceeding the time limit. Eleven underwater photographers recorded the event.

My question is, how do you know when you’re done ironing? When the piece is dry? Huh?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Applause-O-Meter

I happened to turn on the TV this morning just as they were about to introduce the nation’s past-presidents at the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies in Washington DC. Not planning to watch the whole shootin’ shebang of an inauguration, I thought I’d hang around for a few to see how the presidents looked.

They looked … old. President Carter looked old the day he stepped out of office. President Bush I is walking poorly with a side-to-side sway. President Clinton’s hair is whiter than white. President Bush II has wrinkles galore.

But that’s a subject for another time, and for someone else to write about.

I paid attention to the crowd applause when each president was introduced, and graded the ovation on a scale of 1 to 10 (the one with the loudest cheers received the 10). Granted the coverage wasn’t equal for all of them, and the crowd was likely minority- and Democrat-heavy, but here’s the way I saw (and heard it):

Bill Clinton: 10
Jimmy Carter: 7
George H.W. Bush: 5
George W. Bush: 1

Of course, President-Elect Obama’s welcome was off the charts.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Much Ado ‘Bout Nothing

“Better safe than sorry,” they’re saying this morning after all the anticipated high winds (gusts up to 60 miles per hour) they predicted for Honolulu yesterday didn’t materialize.

They closed the public schools. They talked the private schools into closing. They excused the city workers from work. They excused the state workers from work. They closed the parks. They put the buses on holiday schedule. They had emergency crews on alert. They told us to stock up on batteries.

As a result, thousands of people took advantage of their unplanned day off and flocked to Costco where the wife was trying to get prescriptions filled. The kids flooded the theater matinees.

And the winds didn’t arrive. It was pretty breezy, I’d have to say. But 60 mph winds? Hardly. The only thing that blew away was taxpayers’ money, which they used to pay the teachers and government workers who were unproductive yesterday.

Governments tend to be over-cautious these days, which I suppose is good. However, when these miscalculations occur, they erode the public’s faith in our leaders and “experts.” And it’s another kick in the butt for our weather people.

Weather predicting is fairly accurate but subject to the whims of Mother Nature.

Nice try, people, but this time you blew it. “Better safe than sorry” doesn’t cut it when it costs us taxpayers money we can better use elsewhere in this struggling economy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lunching With an Good Friend

Melissa Chang and I have known each other for more than 20 years, having first met when she was a new hire at Starr Seigle McCombs (SSM) advertising agency in Honolulu, and I was with Professional Communications (ProComm) public relations in the next building. That’s when SSM purchased ProComm and we all moved over to where Melissa was so she could join our staff.

Once in a while (not often enough), we get together for lunch and relive the “good ol’ days” of the ‘80s and ‘90s, when the agency business was going strong. We make the same age-old snide remarks about fellow employees and clients we didn’t like, and wonder what our favorite fellow employees and clients are doing now.

We met for lunch at Paesano (see my restaurant blog, A Place for My Taste, for that report), a wonderful Italian food restaurant just up the street from my home. She wanted to show me some old stamps and get an idea of their worth, now that she is between jobs and had some time to spare for me.

What a great lunch it was. We talked about the experiences and fun we have writing our respective blogs. She authors one called “Urban Mixed Plate” about life in the Kakaako area of Honolulu. Melissa has always been an excellent writer, and I encourage you to take a look at her blog:

It was actually kind of hilarious when our meals arrived and before we started eating. Both of us whipped out our cameras and took several pictures of our food. Then, we asked our waitress to take a picture of the two of us before we messed up our plates – so the waitress took one with my camera, one with her camera, and one with her phone. I was tempted to whip out MY phone and get another picture, but thought the better of it.

I wonder if Melissa will write about our lunch in HER blog?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Super Bowl I

Forty-two years ago, on this date, January 15, 1967, the first Super Bowl was played in Los Angeles. And I was there.

It wasn’t known as the “Super Bowl” that year, or for a few years after that. Instead, it was called the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game” and featured the NFL champion Green Bay Packers and the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers won 35-10.

We sat in the end-zone bleacher seats and paid a hefty $25 for the privilege. What I remember most about the game was that it was a smoggy day in Los Angeles (is that an oxymoron?) and when the teams got to the other end of the field, you could hardly see what was going on because of the gray haze.

Thankfully (for us, but not for the NFL), attendance wasn’t overwhelming. There were only 64,946 fans in the stands, far below the Memorial Coliseum’s capacity of 100,000. As a result, they let us bleacherites move into seats on the 10-yard line. I’m sure that was for the benefit of the TV cameras.

(Vince Lombardi accepting the championship trophy from NFL commissioner Pete Roselle)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ode to My Urologist

I went to see the doc today,
(The annual inspection),
I filled it up, the plastic cup,
With nary a perplextion.

I went to see him in the room,
He made me turn around,
“Loosen up,” I heard him say,
“And drop them on the ground.”

There’s a doctor over there
With his finger in the air.
Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!

There’s a doctor over here
With his finger in my rear!
Oh my goodness, OH MY GOODNESS!

The end. Until next year, that is.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back In the Saddle Again

After a taking a couple of months off from our Monday walks due to rainy weather, holiday travel and guests, we resumed our modest exercise regimen this week, making our grand tour of Honolulu’s Waterfront Park once again.

Nothing much has changed at the park since we last walked there. As usual, I looked for anything out of the ordinary and except for spotting a couple of Brazilian cardinals, couldn’t find a thing different.

There were the usual banded and barred doves, mynah birds, feral cats, a couple of white egrets, and 7 Pacific golden plovers.

We bumped into a friendly lady we’d seen there many times; she interrupted her singing while walking to say hi to us. The cat lady was there as usual, feeding the feral cats, and the same homeless guy with his little tent was taking his nap on the grass.

Except for the fact that my butt and thighs started aching from under-use, it felt good to be back in the saddle again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Computer Connection Problems

If you’ve missed seeing me here the past week or so, it’s because my computer and the Internet were trading punches and having it out at my expense.

I’ve had to do my Ebay transactions and emailing at Kinko’s temporarily.

One thing good came out of it, however. I’ve been wanting to renew my passport but have put off getting a new passport picture. Kinko’s offers that service, so I took care of THAT while there.

What was the problem? My cable modem had gone defective. So, I had to stand in line at the Oceanic Cable counter for an hour and a half until my number was called. The bottom line is that it was worth it and my Internet works again.

It feels good to be back online.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday’s Sports Miscellany

Atlanta Braves

Pitcher John Smotz is no longer with the Atlanta Braves. They didn’t do right by him in their contract offer and let him escape to the Boston Red Sox.

They shouldn’t have let him go. Granted he’s in the twilight of his years, but he is a guaranteed future Hall of Famer. And, he’s been with the Braves as long as I can remember.

The Braves just aren’t the Braves without John Smotz.

Hula Bowl

Hawaii’s premier college football all-star game is nowhere to be seen after 62 years. It’s apparently dead and gone.

That’s too bad. But having said that, I have to confess that I hadn’t been to a Hula Bowl since the mid-‘70s when Heisman Trophy winner Charlie White didn’t play and apologized to the fans in attendance before the start of the game.

There was a time when it was the only game in town – except for high school games and the pitiful University of Hawaii – and the stadiums (Honolulu Stadium, AKA the “Termite Palace” and Aloha Stadium were packed. They moved it to Maui for a couple of years. That was a disaster; who wants to go to Maui for a football game anyway?

Aloha, Hula Bowl. RIP.

Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship

The Florida Gators beat the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14 Thursday in a game that only came to life toward the end. What a boring game THAT turned out to be.

For their accomplishment, the Florida Gators were crowned BCS champions, and deservedly so. They had a great season, working their way up to #2 and the right to face #1 Oklahoma in the championship game.

But the BCS system controversy rages on. Honolulu Advertiser sports columnist Ferd Lewis echoed my heretofore unarticulated thoughts this morning:

It really settled only one thing: the Gators were better finishers than Oklahoma last night.

But as for certifying a true, honest-to-goodness national championship? P-l-e-a-s-e. All it did was whet the appetite for what should be the next game in an eight- or even 16-team playoff.

Our vote in The Associated Press media poll went to Florida – narrowly – over Utah and USC, but we’d have no quibble for anyone who voted for any of the others. The Gators might very well be the BCS champions and the best team in the land, but national champions? Not yet.

And that’s exactly what I think.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Politeness and Respect

Have you noticed that society is becoming less and less respectful of everyone and everything than it used to be? I fear that as the world spins faster and faster, we are becoming a ruder people.

Case in point: The American presidency. I remember when newspaper stories would always refer to the United States president as “Mr.” In fact, I remember reading this dictum in the very first Associated Press Stylebook that I owned. Whenever people referred to the president in everyday conversation, we’d also pay him that respect.

No more. Now it’s “Bush,” and “Clinton” and “Reagan” and “Carter” and lately, “Obama.”

The American news media are the instigators of this change. Do you remember when they changed? It was when Richard Nixon’s shameful Watergate cover-ups were being reported. That’s when the news media dropped the respectful “Mr.” title. President Nixon’s actions lost the respect that our nation’s presidents had enjoyed.

I guess as a people, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to being polite and respectful.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year’s Sushi Hell

When we first returned to Hawaii in 1972, I had no idea what was to be in store for me come New Year’s Eve each year. Every year. Every single year.

It was the soon-to-be dreaded … SUSHI HELL!
We returned to Hawaii from Los Angeles in 1972. Our first couple of years back, I didn’t participate in sushi-making on the last day of the year. The wife’s family owns a local-style delicatessen, and took orders for maki sushi (black rolls), inarizushi (cone), and oshizushi (pressed), along with other food that people would serve on New Year’s Eve or Day.

Then, one day they asked me to help by manning the front and packing up customer orders. So I did that – very boring work, except when the production people in the back fell behind and the waiting customers piled up.

The situation got worse and worse over the years, the number of orders picked up, and soon there were dozens of eyes staring at me for minutes, then hours (turning irritated after long waits). It began to get on my nerves, so I learned how to roll sushi, in order to stay in the back, away from those eyes, and at least keep the sushi rolls moving out to the front. This was at the end of 1978.

I got to be a pretty fast roller, picking up speed year after year. At the top of my form, I was able to roll one sushi every 20 seconds or so (two a minute). Unfortunately, I HAD to do that in order to keep up with the order-packing going on outside, for the orders kept growing and growing.

I’d get there at 6 a.m. Dec. 31, and finish around 9 p.m. Eventually, it became a 2 a.m. to 11 p.m. job punctuated by aching hands, sore arms and shoulders, a painful back, chafed buttocks and thighs, and numb fingers and feet. It was hell, pure hell.

Finally one year, I could swear I was having a heart attack, but the pressure to continue was relentless. I remember that night like it was yesterday – I had a splitting headache, my eyes were blurry, my left arm was numb, my neck hurt, my brain was swirling, I couldn't concentrate, my right wrist had stabbing pains, I hurt all over, my heart was palpitating, I couldn’t sit down without hurting, I couldn’t lie down without hurting, and I couldn’t stand up without hurting. Probably the only way I would have been comfortable was to lie in a bathtub filled with warm water.

I’d gotten there at 1 a.m., and got home a few minutes before midnight. It was all I could do to stand in the shower, brush my teeth, shave before the New Year, and drop painfully off to sleep.

That year, I had hit my record for rolling – 750+ rolls (I can only estimate because when I finished my 15th package of nori, I went into numb-mode and may or may not have made a few more). And, I daresay, nobody has matched that number of rolls before or after I accomplished it.

That’s when I made a vow never to subject myself to that kind of personal hell again. The next year on, I refused to get to the deli before 10 a.m., and made it a point to leave at about 8 p.m. And, I slowed down considerably. They had to bring in more help, I’m sure, because my production fell to about a third of that stupid record night.

The last time I rolled sushi on New Year’s Eve was on Dec. 31, 2001. The following two years, I attended corporate meetings that week on the mainland. Then, the family gave up the ghost and stopped taking New Year’s Eve orders for good.

Good riddance, I say. No wonder I have been grouchy every New Year’s Day in Hawaii.