Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Favorite Supermarket in Silicon Valley

The first time I ever stepped foot into Lunardi's Market in Los Gatos (King's Court Shopping Center), my jaw dropped at the fabulous display in their meat department. The picture above shows about half of what they offer.

Lunardi's is rather selective in what they carry, which is just about everything you'd expect to find in any supermarket, but of a higher quality than I've ever come across. The meats are a good example of this.

One of my favorite items in the meat case is their chicken-mango breakfast sausage. They are sweet and delicious, and when sitting next to home-cooked scrambled eggs, they represent the best that breakfast should be.

The staff at Lunardi's is extremely helpful and eager to serve. Every few steps you take as you gaze upon the lamb, ribs, pork, beef, fish, poultry and sundry items, someone behind the counter will ask if you need help.

They have a great produce section as well. All of their fruits and vegetables seem to stand out in the most vibrant of colors. Their sushi is delicious, and their deli section is to die for. If you ever get a chance, try one of their hot soups.

Okay, I'm starting to sound like a commercial. I'd better stop.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Japanese Customs and Creativity

Because of the large numbers of Asians living in the Silicon Valley area of Central California, a number of ethnic shopping centers have sprung up. Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose is just such a center.

Since May 5 is traditionally "Boys' Day" in Japan, lots of colorful koi (carp) windsocks are on display for sale at this time, as local residents strive to maintain the customs that have been handed down for generations. The koi appear to be swimming against the wind, and represent the strength of the boys who must constantly swim upstream to achieve their goals in life.

Families with boys display these "kites" (as they are sometimes called) in and around their homes.

I also came across a little store called "Jsweets" that sold colorful and extremely creative candies and sweet items such as the cherries on the left, and the chestnut candies on the right presented as iris flowers.

It was an interesting excursion we took today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Got the Better of Me ...

... until my son came home and stomped on it.

You're looking at the Graco Pack-n-Play, a combination playpen-carriage-diaper changer that my new grandson will be perambulating around in a little while.

I couldn't find the instructions, so I put it together by trial and error, with mixed results.

One side would not lock in, so it looked a little squished when I finally gave up and retired to the couch to watch King Kong and massage my sore hands.

When my son returned from his baby-wares expedition, he fixed it by turning it over and doing some strategic stomping in just the right place. I guess all the private school and college tuition paid off, huh?

By the way, he did find the instructions hidden amongst the pads, long after I'd attained 95% completion and given up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Babies Are BIG Business

I knew babies were a billion-dollar business, but the fact never really sank in before I went shopping for baby items the other day.

For one thing, I didn't know there was a "Babies R Us" store, an offshoot of "Toys R Us." We had to go to the one in the Almaden area of San Jose to get some feeding supplies for baby Joey.

We were given specific instructions as to what kind of feeding bottle my son and his wife were using, including brand name and descriptions.

So there we were at Babies R Us, when I spotted this cute little parking designation indicator painted on the pavement - you know, like the "Handicapped" ideograph. I had to laugh, because it reminded me of other relevant signs, like "Trespassers Will Be Eaten" at Wild Animal Park, or "Drive Carefully, Grandparents At Play" at my mom's retirement community.

We found the baby-feeding area and holy moley, if we didn't know what we were there for, we would have left there in a daze. The wall was covered with every variety of bottle, formula sleeves, nipples and other appurtances strictly devoted to feeding the suckling baby.

The last time I had to buy bottles and nipples, there were only a few to choose from. There now must be hundreds! And despite the notes we had, I still had to call the new parents to present them with some options.

I think I won't have any more babies. It's too complicated these days.

P.S. You should see the stroller section.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Le-e-e-eaving On a Jet Plane

But I do know when I'll be back again.

The wife and I are taking a 10-day trip to visit my son and newly-born first grandson in San Jose on Saturday morning.

I should be able to bloggit from there a couple of times.

Our return to Hawaii is scheduled for Monday, May 4.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daring Paraglider Guy

During my East Oahu excursion yesterday, I looked up in the sky and spotted this paraglider hanging around in the air over Makapu Beach.

He was ‘way up there. ‘Way, ‘WAY up there over the tops of the Koolaus.

He just hung up there, slowly moving forward, rising with the updraft (it sure was windy), then swinging downward in a controlled plunge.

I wonder if he was just a guy out for an incredible day, or if he was part of the lifeguard crew keeping an eye out on the swimmers below?

It wasn’t a terrific day for taking pictures as you can see – it was pretty overcast, so the paraglider pictures aren’t quite as spectacular. Still, it was pretty dramatic, and the tourists at the overlook were ooo-ing and aah-ing along with me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Remembering the First Earth Day

Nearly 40 years ago today, in September 1969, America’s very first “Earth Day” was announced by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in Seattle, Washington.

I was editor of the Monterey Park Californian at the time, and was more concerned about issues faced by a small Los Angeles suburban city than I was about long-haired hippies. I saw the story come over the wires, and dismissed it as just another tree-hugger publicity ploy.

After all, environmentalists were crying wolf at every opportunity. I’d recently attended a fund-raising dinner featuring an address by Eddie Arnold (of "Green Acres" fame), who decried the state of the environment and warned that if things continued as they did, if we did not take full responsibility for the stewardship of the Earth, that our planet was doomed to die in five years.

Many Americans remained idealistic at the time. Photos of the planet from Apollo 8’s first moon orbit a year earlier made us all fall in love again with the “beautiful blue marble” that was Earth. Granted, the Zero Population Growth movement and its acronym “ZPG” worried us some, but after all, wasn’t that just mathematics and algebra? Recycling was being touted for the first time as a positive move humans could take to save the environment.

Five years to doomsday? I doubted that very much.

Sen. Nelson was no fool, however. Have you ever wondered why April 22 was selected as Earth Day? It took me a while to figure THAT out, but I did.

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the college campuses were the nurseries of social change, as they have been throughout the ages in all cultures, but particularly at this time in the United States because of the Vietnam War. That’s where the social change is cultivated, where political pressure can be applied quasi-innocently, and where young people develop their values and philosophies that will guide them for the rest of their lives.

April 22 was a good day. It was a Wednesday, in the middle of the week. Spring break was over, and college students were back on campus. There were no major college sports to occupy the students’ times, and they were back on campus. There were no major holidays in April, and the students were back on campus. Earth Day was definitely set up to be a college event.

April 22, 1970 dawned as the first Earth Day. Was anything different? Not in my little city. Business went on as usual, there were no parades or demonstrations, the high schools were quiet, people dropped off their cans at recycling bins as they usually did, and there wasn’t much television coverage.

In fact, my only real memory of Earth Day 1970 was looking up from the San Bernardino Freeway and seeing a half-dozen huge black balloons floating over the California State University at Los Angeles campus.

So much for April 22, 1970 becoming an auspicious first attempt to call attention to a deteriorating planet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Preliminary Thoughts on Earth Day

I’ve always believed that today’s societal environmental change in general, and recycling in particular, evolved in three stages.

In Stage 1, recycling was a social issue – a popular fad, reflecting an awareness of our planet. It was what everybody was doing at the time. But after the impetus of Earth Day 1970 had subsided, the fad faded and environmentalism moved underground.

In Stage 2, recycling became an economic issue. Recycling in the 1990’s flourished because the money recycling companies paid out was substantial. But the movement stagnated when the prices dropped and people believed their recycling wasn’t personally cost-effective.

Finally, in Stage 3, “greenness” has become a survival issue - a matter of necessity. We’re beginning to run out of natural resources. That’s where we are today.

Where does business stand while all this is happening? Periodically, business recognizes its social responsibilities and jumps on board. Again, that’s where we are today.

Eventually, business may determine that being “green” doesn’t necessary contribute to their bottom line. Despite their good intentions and faithful promises, they may give up their efforts and concentrate on the struggle to stay relevant and profitable.

That that would be one hell of a lousy Earth Day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Missed Photo Op

A beautiful black Ford Model T was parked at the restaurant that the wife and I stopped at for breakfast this morning.

Usually, I carry my Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-170 digital camera around with me, but had left it home today. Not to worry, I had my cell phone with me and knew I could take a picture with that.

So you see, I snapped a shot, pressed the "Save" button, and snapped another shot just to be sure I got the picture. Again, I pressed the "Save" button.

When I went inside to locate the wife and slipped into the booth, I decided to check the pictures I had taken, proud of myself, and on the verge of bragging about my quick-wittedness.

NOT THERE! Apparently, because of the glare on the cell phone screen, I had pressed the "Erase" button each time instead of "Save." I quickly stood up and looked outside. The old Ford was gone. Gone, gone, gone.

Good thing I didn't brag.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Honolulu Garden Club Show

We had a delightful afternoon wandering amongst the crowd at the Honolulu Garden Club’s annual exhibition and competition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

This is the first time I’ve been to one of their shows and it was mighty impressive – all those beautiful green plants, unusual plantings, awe-inspiring arrangements, and great photographs.

I had expected to pay an admission fee (at least the senior price of $5), but it was free to the public. I applaud the club for sponsoring this special event.

Here are a few more pictures:

It’s too late for you to get there this year, it was held this weekend only. If you want to see it, you have to wait three years for the next one. Sorry 'bout that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Okay, you can call me a retro-dork fool, but whenever I hear the song “YMCA” by the Village People, I do the stupid arm dance.

It happened during the championship game of Hawaii Winter Baseball last October, and it happened again last night when I watched “Can’t Stop the Music,” which I had DVR’d a few nights ago.

The baseball game incident was totally unplanned. They played the song during an inning break and without the benefit of a visual or verbal clue, most of us in the stands spontaneously broke into the arm dance at the appropriate moment.

And when I watched the Village People in the 1980 musical movie, I was propped up in bed. But that didn’t stop me from spelling out Y-M-C-A with my arms … at the appropriate moment. Of course, I was singing along, so I guess I can be excused.

Is this totally ingrained in all of us now? Yikes!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Tree Grows in … WHERE?

Russian doctors found a two-inch tree growing inside a man’s lung the other day.

Artoym Sidorki, 28, had been complaining about severe chest pains and coughing up blood. Suspecting cancer, the doctors decided to perform a biopsy first, just to make sure.

It’s a good thing they did, because they found a small spruce sapling growing inside the lung tissue. It was the pine tree’s needles that had been irritating capillaries in the lung and causing the coughing and bleeding. The doctors said he apparently had inhaled a seed, which later sprouted and developed into the living plant.

Mr. Sidorki said he never felt as though he had anything inside him, despite the pain and bloody sputum.

I kid you not.

P.S. After examining the photo again, I have deep doubts that the tree grew from a seed. A seedling requires sunlight to facilitate photosynthesis. Any intermediate school student knows that. Unless the Mr. Sidorki has an internal sunny disposition, it’s more likely that he inhaled the twig in its entirety.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Important Lesson of the Day

Take a look at these two pictures:

If the man on the left were standing behind you in line at a convenience store, and you heard him tell someone to call him “Caveman,” would you feel uncomfortable and avoid looking at him? Of course you would.

If the woman on the right said she wanted to sing before a large audience, would you take one look at her homely visage and figure she had no chance? Well, more likely than not, you’d do just that.

Well … the man is Don Smith, and he’s a hero in Ackworth, Georgia. When he saw man holding a knife to a store clerk’s neck, he grabbed a small step ladder and bashed the robber, who then dropped the cash and fled out of the store.

The unassuming hero told police, “There’s a lot of thieving that goes on around here and I don't like it. People work for their stuff and they ought to be able to keep it without somebody taking it away from them."

The woman’s name is Susan Boyle. She’s a 47-year-old self-professed virgin spinster who admits she’s homely, but she's always wanted to be a singing star.

Tell you what. There’s a video on YouTube that can tell the story better than I can. Check it out … please.

You just can’t judge a book by its cover.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Here's to Invisibility

It's amazing how you can walk around town doing your own thing in a sometimes strange way, and nobody pays attention to you.

Today I did a small two-hour downtown Honolulu excursion, taking pictures of Heart-Throb Pinchy in front of various scenic and/or historial sites. Pinchy of course is my pet clasper monkey that has his own website (address listed in the right-size column of this page).

People just ignored me. Only once did someone stop and watch what I was doing. A young local woman did one of those "Ahhh, the cute!" reactions as I posed Pinchy on a wrought iron gate in front of the Mission Houses Museum. "Look!" she squealed, "his tail is waving in the wind!"

She walked away giggling to herself.

I'm glad I made someone happy today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Lonely Coconut Tree

I spotted this coconut tree during our Monday walk today and thought the tropical scene looked pretty good. So I snapped a picture of it waving to the ocean alongside the sandy shore.

Unfortunately, this was the only thing of beauty that I saw during the walk. We went to a different place – Sand Island State Park – and I don’t think we’ll go back there for a walk again.

The place is called Sand Island for a reason. ‘Way back when, it was basically an island of sand. That’s where we (the Honolulu Jaycees) held our 50th State Fair back in 1975, and at the time, we had to clear out a lot of brush and keep the place watered down so we wouldn’t be inundated by dust storms.

Years later, they developed the island into a state park. My University of Hawaii public relations student society held an outing there once and I was surprised at how nice the park had turned out.

Well, it isn’t so nice today. There were beer cans and bottles all over the place (homeless scroungers could probably pick up some cash turning those containers in to a recycling station), bare patches of dirt in the grass, weeds poking through the brown "greenery," and generally, the walkways did not afford a good view of the sandy beach area and blue ocean.

So … that tree is going to remain lonely, ‘cause I’m not keeping it company again.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pickles Hilarity

I'm telling you, Pickles is the funniest comic strip around today. Guess it's because I identify with Earl. We don't get the Sunday strip in Hawaii, so I have to go online every now and then to check out the older ones. Found this one recently.

Click on the picture for an enlarged version. Now, please excuse me while I pick myself off the floor!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Help Find Life Out There

While watching the bonus materials that came with my Blu-ray movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” I was reminded of a unique program that anyone with a computer and internet access can participate in.

SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, wants your help in discovering life “out there.”

SETI utilizes many approaches in its attempt to detect intelligent life in the universe. One approach is “radio SETI,” which uses radio telescopes to detect narrow-band radio signals from space. Based at the University of California at Berkeley, SETI initiated an effort ten years ago called SETI@Home that uses a free program to download and analyze radio telescope data.

They have their own computers, but the problem is that in order to cover more radio bands and expand the search area, enormous amounts of computer power are needed. That’s where private home computers come in – three million of them so far, comprising the world’s largest computing effort in history.

If you’ve got a fairly new computer, your share of the work will consist of around two hours a week. The program will automatically send your reports to SETI, and your reports will be posted on the SETI@Home website, with no personal or identifying information revealed to anyone else.

Interested in becoming an amateur astrophysicist? Go to They’ll help you get set up and give you step-by-step instructions.

Because … the truth IS out there. This is neat stuff.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Januarys

Back in the mid- to late-‘60s, I was part of a contemporary folk singing group that formed when I was attending Woodbury College in Los Angeles.

Originally, the group consisted of Ray Ohta (on the right), Donna Dean, and me. We took advantage of a photo studio’s offer of a free sitting and set of proofs, and some wallet-sized prints, and had the above picture taken.

I look pretty geeky, don’t I, with those horn-rimmed glasses. For some reason, the photographer wanted me to sit on a shorter stool than the others. In reality, we were all about the same height. Consequently, I not only look like a geek, I look like a runty geek. Ah well, what do I have to complain about, the picture was free.

Donna played her acoustic guitar and had the voice of an angel; I played piano, tenor ukulele and guitar, and sang the tenor parts; Ray was a baritone and played a Gibson 12-string. Eventually, we added Mike Aldrich to the group – he played the bass fiddle and mandolin.

The Januarys played at parties, weddings, luncheons, and of course at college concerts. We cut a single record – “Lonely Am I,” written by Ray. The flip side was a traditional song, “There Is a Ship.”

Ray’s song hit #10 in Hawaii when his sister and her friends conducted a call-in campaign to the top Honolulu radio station.

Ahhh, the memories.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What da ...?

People born and raised in Hawaii have a peculiar way of pronouncing words, that's for sure.

It seems that many, especially those from certain demographics, are "th" deficient. This particular idiosyncracy is prevalent in other parts of the nation and world, for sure, but especially noticeable in Hawaii.

The substitution of "d" for "th," or the dropping of the "h," is sometimes very subtle, but if you listen carefully, you suddently become very sensitive to it.

There's one particular weather guy that comes to mind immediately. His reports on "da wedder" and how "da surf is up" grate on my nerves sometimes, so I'm constantly reminding myself that he's a local and has to be forgiven. Yet, if his profession puts him in front of thousands who hear him giving his reports, shouldn't he get some lessons in diction?

The Hawaii accent is choppy enough without widdout having to tink about how de locals are pronouncing words, don't you tink?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

North Shore Drive

Every now and then, I like to do a day drive to other parts of Oahu, primarily to keep in touch with what's happening and changing "out there," but also to re-establish a "bigger world perspective" on life - something to keep it real and clear my mind.

Yesterday, I spent maybe four hours in all driving around the circular northern route, stopping in Haleiwa to have lunch at Jameson's by the Sea - a restaurant I've been to several times (read about Jameson's in my "A Place for My Taste" blog, the address is in My Other Blogs" in the right column).

It's been a couple of years since I did the North Shore drive. I skipped doing it in 2008 because of the gas prices, but now that they've dropped to a more normal (?) level, off I went on the excursion.

My preliminary plan was to have lunch at Steamer's, a seafood place in Haleiwa, but when I got there, Steamer's was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately it seems, the restaurant bit the dust sometime in the past two and a half years. Too bad, I wanted to do a review in my restaurant blog.

An aside: Restaurants are dropping like flies in Hawaii as the tourism is 'way down and the economy stumbles about from day to day.

I toted little "Pinchy" the heart-throb clasper monkey and photographed him at various locations. His adventures are posted in his own blog (again, see "My Other Blogs"). It's funny how no one pays attention to this weird guy holding up a furry toy monkey in his hand while taking pictures. I guess in the world today, I'm the least-weirdest thing they've seen in Hawaii.

It was eye-opening and an education to notice at least a dozen white-shrimp stands along the highway where you could get them either caught fresh from the shrimp and prawn farms behind the stands, or steamed in garlic as a snack. I didn't stop at any.

However, I did pull off the road at several fruit stands along the way, hoping to find a Kahuku watermelon to bring home, but they're not in season. Instead, I settled for a cool and juicy ripe Hayden mango at one stand that they peeled and sliced for me.

Traffic-wise, it was fast-going to until I tried to get off the freeway. They were doing some roadwork at Schofield and everybody had to merge into one lane as the freeway ended. Since nearly everybody turned into Schofield Barracks, the road opened up again, then slowed to a crawl once I got into Haleiwa town. After lunch, eading out to Kahuku and the windward side was a breeze, then I came back over the Likelike Highway to the jammed Honolulu-bound H-1 Freeway.

Next time, I'll head around the other side of the island and return through East Honolulu.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Goodbye to an Old Friend

“ER” closed its doors last night after 15 years of drama. According to Nielsen Research, more than 16.4 million viewers watched the final episode, the most for a drama series finale since "Murder, She Wrote" on CBS in 1996. During its decade-and-a-half run, ER garnered a record 122 Emmy nominations.

There were many tearful moments for me, especially on the one-hour retrospective that preceded the two-hour final episode, when many of my favorite doctors, nurses and med students talked about their ER experience.

Having Rachel Greene there (daughter of Dr. Mark Greene, all grown-up and applying for med school) made it kind of special for me, for it provided an opportunity to tie generations together – the current ER staff, former ER staff, and (possibly) future ER staff. You could feel Dr. Greene’s spirit through his daughter’s presence.

Ernest Borgnine’s portrayal of an elderly man who had to watch his wife die after knowing her since the sixth grade represented faithful viewers like me who had to watch one of our favorite series of all time fade into the world of memories.

I was DVR-ing the episode, and when it ended, I went back and watched the last five minutes or so twice more before erasing it. Then, I dried my eyes on my sleeve.

As might be expected, nothing in the final episode was tied up neatly, and that’s okay, because after all, the emergency room never closes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let’s Go to Texas on June 13!

I’m looking for seven baseball fans to join me in Texas on June 13, when the minor league Grand Prairie AirHogs host a special “Octomom Night” promotion at their ballpark.

Sounds like fun, no? They’re planning special events such as a “Guess How Many Buns Are in My EZ Bake Oven” game, a diaper derby, and a stroller race. I just betcha something is going to happen in the eighth inning … ya think?

Why do I need seven more people? I thought it would be obvious – groups of eight can get in for half-price. Huh, huh? How ‘bout THAT!

And, if the AirHogs score eight or more runs, they’ll give each of us a ticket to … another game! Actually, I’m just kidding about going. I love baseball, but I think I’ll pass on this one.

Woohoo! I kid you not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Plovers Plumped

The plovers (kolea) are all plumped up and sporting more-colorful plumage in preparation for their return flight to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands this month.

Back in October, I posted the female that staked out territory next door. The "April" photo above shows how she looks today. Why, even the grass is greener.

I was surprised to see that she got a visit from a male koloa this morning, because other plovers usually aren't tolerated in another's "space."

Think he's interested in a little bit of "birds of a feather"?