Saturday, October 31, 2009

Furlough Friday

Yesterday was the second “Furlough Friday” in Hawaii, when schools closed and teachers went on unpaid furlough to help meet the State of Hawaii’s budget crisis.

Maybe that would explain the large crowd at the annual Hawaii State Numismatic Association’s (HSNA) annual coin show at the convention center.

Although, it gives one pause to think; it's an optimistic statement about the collecting hobbies when people whose incomes are taking a hit still find time to attend a coin show (and visit my stamp table).

The wife is joining me this year, helping to man my table. What a sweetheart, huh?

The Wife Holding Down the Fort (Plus Customer in the Back)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Voggy Days

Every now and then, Hawaii experiences what’s called Kona winds – winds that blow from the south instead of the normal trade winds that blow over Hawaii from the Northwest.

When that happens, it becomes muggy – humid and hot – without the refreshing trades to cool things off.

Combine that with haze that drifts over the rest of the state from volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaii, and you get “vog” – supposedly “volcano” plus “fog” – like the combination of “smoke” and “fog” that produces “smog.”

Vog is a misnomer, of course, because Hawaii doesn’t get fog except in the much higher elevations. It’s more of a haze, but I guess “vaze” sounds stupid.

We’ve been experiencing that this week, and it was very evident during a recent ocean-side walk. Diamond Head, which is usually easily seen on near-crystal clear trade wind days, was shrouded in vog. Check it out:

Not good for tourism, but what can anyone do about it? Nothing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Four Weddings and …

Bet you didn’t know that the 2009 Best Yin and Yang Espy Award went to minor league baseball's Omaha Royals for their promotion called “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

Four couples were married on the Rosenblatt Stadium field at the conclusion of their July 31 home game, which saw the Royals outlast the Iowa Cubs in a 5-4 thriller.

In addition, one lucky fan won an all-expenses paid funeral (casket included) sponsored by a local mortuary. It is reported that the guy who won the funeral was pretty excited about the whole thing.

Peanuts, Cracker Jack, hot dogs, beer, nuptials and a funeral. Now THAT’s a night at the ballpark!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kewalo Basin Park

The other day, as I was driving toward Ala Moana Park and Magic Island, where the wife and I were going to take a morning constitutional, I turned right a little too soon and ended up on the Diamond Head (eastern) end of Honolulu’s Kewalo Basin boat harbor.

Since I hadn’t actually paid much attention to the area before, I decided to drive around the boat harbor and see what was there.

As it turns out, we discovered a nice little park there – Kewalo Basin Park, which features the same walkway/seawall/pavilion architecture as Waterfront Park, where we often do our walking. In fact, you could say it’s a continuation of Waterfront that’s interrupted by the Point Panic area where boats enter and leave the Kewalo Basin harbor.

At first glance, it looked much too short for a substantial walk, but after parking and surveying the walkway beside the water, I changed my mind about that. It wasn’t quite as long as the Waterfront Park or Magic Island walks, but it was fairly substantial.

The Ewa (western) end is landmarked by a statue called ‘Ano Lani; ‘Ano Honua (“A Heavenly Nature; An Earthly Nature”) erected in 1993. I’ll have to write about the statue and accompanying Hawaiian legend someday; it’s topped by a Pueo (Hawaiian owl) and flanked by upright surfboards.

The Diamond Head end connects up with Ala Moana Beach (there’s a sign warning against walking along the three-foot wide seawall, but it’s got a flat concrete top and nobody seems to heed the warning).

Kewalo Basin Park affords us a new look and different perspective of the ocean and the surfers we often see when we’re at Waterfront gazing toward Magic Island. It’s almost smack dab in the middle of the two. As a matter of fact, if we wanted to, we could park at Magic Island, circumnavigate it, then walk along Ala Moana Beach Park until we came to Kewalo Basin, and continue walking at Kewalo Park.

Unfortunately we can’t connect with Waterfront, but that’s okay, because the walk back to our car would be amazingly long as it is.

Nope, no long continuous walk for us … it’s Just going to be the usual smaller loops – Magic Island, Waterfront Park, and now, Kewalo Basin Park.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conversing With a Computer

I had the darnedest experience yesterday. I had a conversation with a computer.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), our local Blue Shield-Blue Cross affiliate, called our home and asked for me. The wife answered the phone, then came into my office and said there’s a computer that wants to talk to you.

Apparently the program asked for me specifically. When the wife told it that she wasn’t me, it asked her to get me on the line, which she did. It even identified itself as a computer.

The woman’s voice asked me to confirm my identity, and when I did, she asked if I’d like information about the flu virus. Yes, I replied.

By this time, I was pretty much intrigued about what was going on, so I played along, listening, and answering “yes” or “no” when prompted. Here’s how part of the “conversation” wend (not verbatim, ‘cause I don’t have THAT good a memory):

Computer Lady: “Have you gotten your regular flu shot yet?”
Me: “Yes.”
Lady: “That’s great! It’s important, especially for those over 50. When the H1N1 shot is available, would you like us to send you a reminder?”
Me: “Yes.”
Lady: “All right, we’ll remind you. We can also email you so you can forward the information on to your friend. Would you like us to email you so you can do that?”
Me: “No.”
Lady: “Well, okay, we won’t email you.”

And on and on for about five minutes or so. I've had similar conversations with computers before, but this one was special and different. It wasn’t intrusive or annoying at all – the lady’s voice was extremely pleasant and personable without being condescending.

Whoever wrote the message and set up the program did a very good job. Replies to my responses were immediate and appropriate. And, they picked the right person to narrate.

When the “conversation” was over and she bid me good night, I found myself telling her goodbye and to have a good day. Felt a little silly afterwards, but I just couldn’t catch myself in time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

As We Went Walking …

… today at Magic Island just outside of Waikiki, I was reminded of how beautiful Hawaii is – not just its scenery and weather, but in its plethora of birds and sea life.

It was a good day to see green sea turtles (honu). Five (count ‘em, five) turtles were feeding alongside the rock wall walkway, in the same area where we’d seen our first turtle a week or so ago.

I was able to take decent pictures of three of them:

We also saw quite a few birds that allowed me to get a little closer than usual. It was as though they were in a generous picture-posing mood today:

Ruddy Turnstone

Pacific Golden Plover (Kolea)

Java Finch
(Padda oryzivora)

Comfortable, Lazy Pigeon

As an added bonus, the trade winds were back today for one day only. Starting Tuesday, it’s expected to be humid and muggy, so our walking constitutionals won’t be quite so comfortable this week.

But that’s okay; it was a good day today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Act of Class

It brought a lump in my throat, a fullness in my heart, and tears to my eyes.

I didn’t know 20-year-old Jasper Howard, and I haven’t been following the University of Connecticut’s football team. All I had was a vague recollection of a story a week ago, about a college football player who’d been stabbed to death after a school rally.

But I have a greater understanding today of how much he meant to his team, and to college football everywhere. “Jazz,” as he was affectionately known, grew up and played high school ball in Miami.

Hundreds of miles south of West Virginia, where the UConn Huskies were playing, members of the University of Miami team paid tribute him in their own small way, including wearing his number on their eye-blacks. Many had known him and played alongside or against him in high school.

Still, the greatest tribute to the fallen collegian came during UConn’s game at Morgantown, where the Huskies were being hosted by the Mountaineers. When UConn emerged from the tunnel, the West Virginia fans in the stadium and the Mountaineers football team stood as one and applauded Jazz’s teammates as they marched hand-in-hand onto the field, carrying Number 6’s helmet and jersey.

It was a simple gesture, yet it was as heart-rendering and supportive as any other that could have been offered. The ovation was for Jazz and for the UConn team, which had decided to play on in dedication to the memory of a fallen teammate.

The ovation delivered a greater message however; the ovation was also for college football – a demonstration that beyond school spirit and pride, beyond team play, beyond the polls, beyond talented collegians rising to challenges, there is in college football a link between all of its coaches, players, fans, and schools.

It rises far above the scores, the rankings and the bowl games. It calls us together every fall to become one nation again, perhaps with divisions among us, but certainly to bind us together as a fraternity of brothers and sisters.

The ovation – it was a touching act of class.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beware the Giant Seagull

This video has gone viral, so I guess I’ll just add to the whoop-de-doo.

Peter Hitchiner, Melbourne’s Channel 9 newscaster, was reporting the murder of a young Australian man when what appeared to be a giant seagull appeared behind him.

In actuality, the seagull was walking on a ledge in front of a camera shooting the Melbourne skyline that was being superimposed behind Mr. Hitchiner.

He saw it on the monitor, of course, but his feathers weren’t ruffled in the least.

Okay, okay, don’t be so gull-ible … and stop pecking on me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oh, For Heaven’s Sake

Just when you thought you’d heard the last of “OctoMom,” and also thought that the Jon vs. Kate Gosselin debacle was on its last legs; just when you thought these two ridiculous phenomena were fading into a distant memory …

Nadya Suleman has let it be known that she has a crush on Jon Gosselin. In general, she thinks he’s hot; specifically she thinks he looks great in purple.

What does she have to say about Kate Gosselin? "I feel for her. I wish everyone would leave her alone," she said. "I'm sure she trusts herself and trusts that she's strong enough to handle it."

Good Lord! Why are we wasting our time on these people? Why am I even writing about this? Who cares anyway? Please stop! No more of this, please!

Surely, this is a sign that the Apocalypse is on its way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Four Generations

As the wife and I were sitting on one of the benches at Waterfront Park yesterday, admiring the beautiful scene before us – surfers at Point Panic, Ala Moana beach just beyond them, and the iconic Diamond Head in the distance – an elderly Asian couple stopped to talk to us.

They asked if we were Korean, because my wife was wearing a Seoul Olympics cap given to me years ago by a colleague who at a U.S. Army Reserve exercise in Korea around the time of the Olympics.

When they discovered we were Americans of Japanese ancestry (AJA), the gentleman remarked that so were they, and asked what generation Americans we were (I get that often).

I told him I was fourth generation American, and that my wife was third generation. Their eyes brightened up. “My husband is second generation,” his wife said, “and I’m first generation.”

Well, how about that. Four generations of AJAs enjoying a chance meeting near the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Only in America, I thought. As it turns out, they are in their mid-80’s and have been married 36 years. We are in our mid-60’s and have been married 43 years. They got a chuckle out of that, saying we had more experience than they did.

Then, as they were turning to leave, the gentleman handed me some Watchtower literature – a little leaflet and a copy of the most recent issue of Awake! magazine.

Usually, when people show up at my door with these things, I cut them off with a curt but polite, “No thank you, not today.” But I couldn’t refuse this nice couple. So I took the literature for a quick perusal before bedtime.

That an interesting afternoon, for sure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Volunteers Needed in Hungary

I’ve noticed a lot of talk about volunteering lately; this morning’s newspaper comic section featured no fewer than four strips focused on volunteerism. The thing is, it’s not even National Volunteer Month – that was in April.

Still, volunteerism is a good idea. It’s needed everywhere.

Take Budaors, Hungary, for example. The 15 members of its police force pooled their resources and bought some lottery tickets. Well guess what? They hit the jackpot – about $16.2 million, the sixth largest in Hungarian history – and split it amongst themselves.

Budaors, by the way, is in the Budapest metropolitan area, in (get this) … Pest County. It started as a settlement in 3500 BC and has a population of 26,400 people.

Now … what would YOU do if you won the lottery? Chances are you’d quit your job and do all sorts of things you couldn’t do before, due to the lack of wherewithal.

That’s what the police did. All 15 of them. The entire police force. On the spot. Quit. Gone. Nada remaining.

Police chiefs from surrounding cities have sent back-up squads to help out, but in the meantime, a desperate search for volunteers and new recruits is on.

Want to be a volunteer? Want to make a difference? Maybe you can start a new life in Hungary.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anonymously Famous ... That's Me

One of my Twitter tweets was quoted by Kelly Ripa on Live with Regis and Kelly this morning during their host chat when they were talking about the Notre Dame football team’s loss to the University of Southern California.

Regis had been going on and on in past shows about how this was the year that Charlie Weis and the Fighting Irish were finally going to beat USC after a 7-year string of losses to the Trojans.

So when the Irish failed to convert a (literally) last-second touchdown that could have sent the game into overtime, I couldn’t resist myself, and tweeted this:

Regis wasn’t amused in the slightest, but Kelly thought it was hilarious.

Anyway … it’s no big deal. But if you want to see her reference, you can watch this morning’s host chat on their website (it’s about 6 minutes into the chat): Regis & Kelly Oct. 19, 2009 Host Chat

Therefore, I’m anonymously famous.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Showers Aren’t Exactly Clean

There are very few things in life that give a person more pleasure than a shower.

When you’re hot and sweaty, a lukewarm shower followed by a cold spray does wonders to rejuvenate your spirits. When you’ve had a rough day, there’s nothing like a hot shower spraying your face and relaxing your sore muscles. And those massage showers ... aaaaahhhhh.

But did you know that taking a shower might be one of the dirtiest things you can do? I didn't know that.

University of Colorado at Boulder researchers have found that nearly a third of all shower heads in nine cities (including New York, Chicago and Denver) have significant levels of Mycobacterium avium. And if that sounds bad, it is. The bacterium is linked to pulmonary disease.

Apparently, M. avium gathers in a slime full of other bad germs that congregate inside shower heads in concentrations that are more than 100 times what’s found in the water that comes through the pipes from municipal sources.

Symptoms of M. avium pulmonary infection include weakness, shortness of breath, and a persistent dry cough.

What can you do about it? Well the first thing is not to flood your face with shower water when you first turn it on. It probably has its highest load of the wicked M. avium pathogen. Don’t swallow shower water (although you can still breathe in the germs from the water mist). Replace your plastic shower head with a metal one.

Do you have vinyl shower curtains? Get rid of 'em. The researchers found massive colonies of the pathogen in the soap scum that accumulates on these types of curtains. And make sure you sanitize your indoor pools often; they are ideal breeding grounds for the bacteria.

It almost makes a person want to switch from showers to baths. I wish I didn’t hear about this stuff.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is There Room in Football for Pink?

There ain’t no cryin’ in football. There ain’t no “tomorrow” in football. There ain’t no fear in football. But is there room for … pink? On the field, I mean.

Apparently wide receiver Robbie Parris of Notre Dame thinks so. There for the world to see, swinging above his sweat-stained #82, were pink hair extensions that paid tribute to a relative and a friend, both of whom suffered from breast cancer. October, as we all know, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The television sportscasters paid particular attention to this during the Fighting Irish’s eighth consecutive loss to the University of Southern California.

I think it’s commendable of young Parris to do this. But it wasn’t well received in the football blogs. I usually google blogs after USC games and you should see some of the nasty homophobic comments that were posted on the websites.

Oh well, no matter. USC pulled out another great victory, despite some stupid penalties that gave the Irish a fighting chance to tie it up and force the game into overtime.

Pink or not, the only color that Charlie Weis and his players are seeing tonight is dark blue – as in their jerseys, and in their deep funk over losing a game they truly believed they could win.

I bet Regis Philbin, who was so convinced that this was his alma mater’s year to beat the Trojans, is crying in his Enfamil.

Fight on, USC!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Teenage Mutant Ninja ... No

Turtle? YES!

Don’t you just love it when time and tide work out in your favor? It did for me yesterday.

The wife and I did an early-afternoon walk at Magic Island; we wanted to walk in the morning, but we had too many other errands and appointments that needed paying attention to first.

Then, when we were walking, we took a while to sit on a bench and just gaze out at the ocean, watching the ships and boats and barges and airplanes and parasailers do their thing, for about 10 minutes or so.

Instead of taking the paved walkway leading back into the park, we walked along the cement walkway at water’s edge. Just ahead of us, a few tourists tossed leis into the water (in hopes, I presume, that they would wash back to shore indicating the tourists would return to Hawaii).

I got ready to take a picture of one of the leis, when I saw a huge green turtle (honu) surface next to it. It must have had at least a three-foot carapace. One of the tourists excitedly exclaimed that it surfaced to look at the lei. As for me, I wasn’t able to get a picture of the turtle since my camera was still booting up. That’ll teach ME to turn it off during my walk, huh?

We waited around; watching the turtle nibble seaweed (limu) off the rocks underwater, then disappear over and over again in the veil of bubbles caused by waves crashing against the rocks.

Suddenly, it resurfaced and I managed to snap a quick shot, but was too late to photograph it when it poked its head out of the water. Here’s the shot I came away with:

It’s the best I could do, as the turtle never resurfaced. I got to thinking: If we hadn’t had all those appointments in the morning, if we hadn’t sat on a bench for 10 minutes, and if we hadn’t done our little detour, we would have missed that rare glimpse of this wonderful Hawaiian totem (aumakua) in the wild.

As for the lei, they washed along the sea wall and headed in toward Ala Moana Beach. So I guess the tourists WILL be returning to Hawaii after all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“If You Had Half a Brain …”

Have your parents ever told you that? Or your friends? Or maybe even a rude acquaintance? The implication is that even people with half a brain could figure out what they’re trying to get you to understand. You, who has a complete brain.

Of course that was meant as an insult, but it once again turns out to be true.

Many years ago, when she was just 4, Brandi Binder contracted a rare form of epilepsy – Rasmussen’s encephalitis. She had the right hemisphere of her brain removed to counter its effects, even though the prognosis was that she’d have difficulty walking, and that perhaps the left side of her body would be paralyzed.

You know what? The remaining half of her brain compensated for the missing right half, taking over its functions. The 20-something Brandi is doing just fine, thank you.

And then there is Michelle Mack, who is garnering some publicity this week. She was born with just half a brain.

But like Brandi’s, the remaining right brain rewired itself and took over the functions of its missing partner. Michelle, 37, lives with her parents. She still needs some help, but works by doing data entry at home for her church, pays rent, and walks and talks just fine.

The brain truly is an amazing organ. And these two women themselves are amazing .

Monday, October 12, 2009

Umbrella-ish … Sort of

A walk at Honolulu's Waterfront Park is always adventurous, especially if you keep your eyes and mind open and pay attention to little details.

For example: During our early afternoon constitutional today, we saw a parasail in the distance, about a half-mile from shore. And then, just a few minutes later, I spotted some mushrooms growing on the grassy slope next to the walkway.

Parasailing is a popular offshore activity. We see at least one in the air every time we go to Waterfront Park. I personally would never do that 'cause a tourist once fell and died when she went splat against the ocean surface.

I’m not a mycologist by any stretch of the imagination, so my Google search might not be accurate. But this is either an edible Almond Mushroom (Agaricus subrufescens), or a deadly Amanita mormorata. That's 50-50 … not so good odds.

Parasail … mushroom. The thing that stuck in my mind was that they both were umbrella-like. Y’know, caps. So I doffed my Atlanta Braves cap at the mushroom, turned to the ocean and did likewise to the parasailer.

Neither acknowledged my gesture, but that’s okay, because I was simply validating my left-field thoughts. Here’s to the left field! *Clink*

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fishy Thoughts

What a nice surprise it was to walk from the parking lot to the orchid show on Friday. There, off to the right, in McKinley High School’s Hirata Hall, was a sign heralding the 2009 Honolulu Aquarium Society’s Annual Fish Show.

I had no idea the fish show was on, since my mind had been fixated on the orchid show since seeing a newspaper notice earlier in the week.

It’s not a great big ol’ show, but the fish on display were beautiful. I admire people who can raise aquarium fish, since the only time I had an aquarium was after I won a couple of guppies at a local carnival and bought a goldfish bowl to keep them in.

My college roommate had an aquarium – a 25-gallon tank that sat in the apartment living room. He used to feed them dead fruit flies from his agricultural course experiments, and icky tubifex worms that massed together in a ball in the back sink.

I tried to take a lot of pictures, but it’s hard to shoot through glass and water – most of my pictures had my reflection in it, or glare from the sunlight coming through the doorway.

But I did manage to salvage a couple that are worth keeping:

I don’t know the names of the fishes, because silly me, I forgot to take notes, but the last one is a Siamese Fighting Fish. Beautiful, huh? It should be – it took Best in Show. The show ends today, so hurry up or you’ll have to wait until next year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beautiful Orchid Experience

Concluding on Sunday (tomorrow), the Honolulu Orchid Society’s annual show at the McKinley High School Cafetorium continues to impress orchid lovers and … me.

The wife and I attended the show on opening day yesterday and had a visual feast of gorgeous and perfect examples of the craft. I went a little overboard with my camera, and would have taken more pictures. But if I did, I’d still be there, or would have to go back today.

But, as much as I enjoyed the spectacular exhibition, I do not want to repeat the experience at this time. Why? Because the weather in Honolulu is more late-summerish than fall – hot (near or at 90 degrees) and humid (I’d guess 80%). Which, I would guess, makes it great weather for the orchid plants.

The McKinley High School cafetorium is small, not air conditioned, and air circulation is slightly above "tolerable." The last Honolulu Orchid Society show I attended was two years ago, at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, which is large, spacious, and air conditioned. I guess budget has become a concern, and I don’t blame the orchid enthusiasts.

But there was a bonus – the Honolulu Aquarium Society had its annual exhibition at McKinley, right around the corner near the parking lot. So it was nice to see some of Hawaii’s top aquarium fishes up close and personal.

Here are a few of the pictures I took yesterday:

Great Variety of Beautiful Flowers

Orchids, Orchids, and More Orchids

The Vendors' Area

Best Vanda and Best in Show

"Black Prince"

"Blue Heaven"

"Hilo Gold"

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Most Annoying Phrase

Do you know what a recent Maris Poll determined is the most annoying phrase in America?


That is so spot on. It’s a dismissive phrase that says to you, “Oh what the hell, believe what you want, I don’t give a rip about it anyway. Now go away and stop bothering me.”

Nearly half of Americans polled (47%) said there’s no phrase more annoying than “Whatever.”

“Y’know” came in second with 25%. “It is what it is” was third with 11%, “Anyway” got 7%, and “At the end of the day” got 2%.

What phrase annoys me more than “Whatever”? It’s when young people (and older ones too) express their awe by saying, “I was like, wow!”

I hate the word “like” used this way. And anyway, at the end of the day, so should you, 'cause it is what it is … y’know? Ahh, whatever.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Honolulu’s Alternative Taste Street Festival

Well okay then … I don’t know whether to classify this nighttime event as “weird,” “innovative,” or just plain “good grief.”

Tomorrow night, Honolulu’s Chinatown district will celebrate the third annual “Alternative Taste Street Festival” at the Nuuanu and Hotel Street intersection.

The food part sounds just fine, as downtown and Chinatown eateries will be featuring their wares. So does the entertainment setup – three music stages and a deejay stage.

From there, it takes a left turn into that territory I was alluding to earlier. They promise a Chinatown Follies drag show and a host of street performers such as Haberdashery, 86list, Doolin Rakes, and Rolando Sanchez Salsa Band, Hawaii fire artists, Monkey Waterfall, and Samadhi Hawaii Aerialists.

Now tell me, are any of these household names to you? Not to me, they're not. They may be if you’re a member of – or are close to someone who’s cognizant of – the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Community, which is sponsoring the event.

Maybe I’ll don a fright wig and drop by.

On second thought, I think I’ll just stay home tomorrow night.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kelly Ripa Grossness

Every morning, Kelly Ripa chews a wad of green gum, and just before she and Regis Philbin walk out onto the “Live” morning show set, sticks it on the wall. Gross.

They showed a picture of the wall recently, and let me tell you, it’s gross. Take a look at the picture here – it’s not the exact wall, but it pretty much epitomizes what hers looks like. Gross.

And, she said, it’s not the whole wall. It’s been cleaned once before. Gross.

There were not only green wads of gum, but blue and red and yellow as well. Looks as though others on the staff are following her lead and adding to the mess. Gross.

I wonder … has anybody from OSHA or the New York State Department of Health been alerted to this health hazard?

It’s so gross.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What Will My Mary Say?

Toward the end of last week (Thursday, I think), the 1963 Johnny Mathis hit, “What Will My Mary Say,” played on Honolulu’s 99.5 The Jewel, and somehow indelibly re-etched itself into my sentimental and feeble psyche.

Every morning since then, I’ve awakened with the song occupying the jukebox of my mind. I’m sure you’ve experienced times like this – it’s when a song “gets stuck in your head.”

It’s been a while since I’ve heard it, but the words just came back to me, as oldies often do. Back then, I heard it a lot, because “Mary” rose to #9 on the pop charts that year.

It is a beautiful song, but I could do with a different song in my head. So I figured that maybe if I wrote about it, this would serve as a catharsis and change the 45-rpm record that’s spinning on my mental turntable.

What Will My Mary Say?

I must be going (Female: Don't go)
My heart is showing (Don't go)
I better hurry awa-ay-ay-ay-ay
If I don't leave I'll be sorry
What will my Mary say?

Your lips are thrilling
My arms are willing
I know that I shouldn't stay-ay-ay-ay-ay
If I don't leave I'll be sorry
What will my Mary say?

What would I do if she should need me
And find me kissing you?
She's always trusted me completely
Her poor heart would bre-ea-eak in two

I must be going (Don't go)
My heart is showing (Don't go)
I better hurry awa-ay-ay-ay-ay
If I don't leave I'll be sorry
What will my Mary say?

If I don't leave I'll be sorry
What will my Mary say?

(Don't go … Don't go)

Better yet, listen for yourself and sing along …

"What Will My Mary Say" by Johnny Mathis

Sorry, but now YOU’RE going to be singing the song for the rest of the day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sumida Watercress Farm

What’s green and crunchy, has a slightly peppery taste that is a joy in salads, requires lots of fresh water to grow, and caused a shopping center development to slam on its brakes?

Watercress. That’s what. And I know where three-quarters of watercress consumed in Hawaii is grown – on the ten-acre Sumida Watercress Farm fronting Kamehameha Highway in Aiea, smack-dab in the middle of Pearlridge Shopping Center.

The center’s developers had to split the shopping Mecca into two distinct wings to accommodate the farm because the Sumida family has steadfastly refused to sell their property.

And why should they shut down anyway? They’ve got a good thing going. The natural spring water irrigates the crop, allowing the family to harvest more than six tons a week, which translates to 300 tons of the crispy stuff every year.

But that doesn’t stop developers from drooling when they see that prime land sitting there green and wet.

I hope the Sumidas continue to hold fast. I want their watercress in my salad.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

ABC Sports – Irritating

ABC ticked me off on Saturday. They cut away from the football game I was watching (USC at Cal) so they could generously and happily give me “bonus coverage” of the close Oklahoma-Miami game.

Granted, the Trojans were embarrassing the Golden Bears, and Miami’s upset of Oklahoma was exciting, but I wanted to watch my team’s entire game. For University of Southern California fans, the switch in coverage was a travesty.

Wasn’t it supposed to be regional coverage so Pac 10 school audiences could watch a game that was more meaningful to the conference? What a joke that is. Can I expect ABC in the future the interrupt its coverage of games I want to watch?

The ABC -ESPN sports programming powers that be jumped to the Oklahoma-Miami game with about 10 minutes left in the USC-Cal game. Because of that, I missed witnessing a great 10-play, 65-yard USC drive, with an exciting series of rushes by USC junior Joe McKnight, to score a touchdown.

When they cut away, I rushed to turn on the computer, and log on to NCAA’s GameCast so I could follow the game via graphic representation. But charts and statistics with written descriptions just don’t measure up to live coverage on television.

The final score, by the way, was USC 30, Cal 3.

I hate ABC today. I hope they don’t mess up coverage of Lost during its final season, as it’s the only show I watch on ABC any more.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Know When to Zip Your Lips

Here's some very good advice: Watch what you say, when you say it, and where you talk about it.

While at a restaurant the other day, some women wearing jackets identifying them as local hardware store employees sat in the booth behind me.

I wasn’t eavesdropping, but they were talking loudly enough for those at neighboring tables to hear, and I couldn’t help but overhear one say that her boss had walked by her the very moment she called a fellow worker a name involving a part of the male anatomy … out loud.

She was complaining to her co-workers that although the boss didn’t write her up, he did give her a warning and reprimanded her for using offensive language in the presence of customers. And he did write an informal note to put in her personnel jacket.

I couldn’t believe my ears when the others in the party supported her – not with consoling “aww too bad” sentiments, but with some “the nerve of the guy,” and “he didn’t have to do that” sort of "anti-boss" comments.

Employees can be so stupid, so dense, so irresponsible sometimes. One can never tell when a customer will overhear what’s being said – on the sales floor, or even in a restaurant.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Personalizing the Attack on Pearl Harbor

The ticket to the Arizona Memorial tour at Pearl Harbor is a nice souvenir, which I kept after visiting the USS Arizona Memorial this week for the first time in my life. Imagine that. I’ve lived in Honolulu since 1972 and have never before gone to see the memorial.

The front of the ticket is magnificently designed with a background photo of the waving American flag, a picture of the pure-white memorial, and the time your tour begins with a sobering film of Dec. 7, 1941 and the Japanese attack on America.

But the back of the ticket carries more meaning. Just as you are given an identity when you tour the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, just as you are given an identity when you visit the Titanic exhibition traveling the country, so do you become someone who was actually there on that fateful “Day of Infamy.”

The wife’s ticket featured Anna U. Busby of Montgomery, Alabama, who was a second lieutenant in the US Army Nurse Corps, stationed at Tripler Army Hospital. She was having breakfast when she heard the attack and saw smoke spiraling into the sky.

Lt. Busby put on her uniform and reported to duty at the hospital, where she tended to hundreds of patients that day.

My ticket featured Torao Migita of Kalihiwai, on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. A private in the US Army stationed at Schofield Barracks, he was at home on leave, then rushed to his post when he heard a radio broadcast directing all servicemen to report to duty.

Pvt. Migita did not survive the attack, and became the first Japanese-American serviceman killed in World War II, for which he received the Purple Heart.

These two stories, more than anything else I saw or experienced at the memorial, touched me deeply.