Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It’s Choc-Choc-Chocolate Today

I think I’ll have some Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate for breakfast. And maybe some chocolate milk instead of coffee.

And then for lunch, I’m going with fruits dipped into a chocolate fondue.

Why? Because I learned yesterday that today’s publication of the European Heart Journal had an article about the health benefits of chocolate – to be specific, they published results of an eight-year German study of 20,000 participants.

The study showed that people who eat one square of chocolate per day (6 grams, or 1/5th of an ounce) reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by 39%.

Sounds good to me. Maybe I’ll have a slice of devil’s food cake after dinner.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Intriguing Comic Section Questions

The comics section in the morning newspaper always gives me pause and a chance to reflect on important questions that arise while I’m having my coffee.

For example:

If I want to find the perfect, one-in-million woman of my dreams, do I have to dream a million dreams?

If my butt is so fat that I can jump in the air and land on my buttocks without it hurting, can that be considered a super power?

If ozone is such a problem, why’d they ever invent it in the first place?

If the congregation at a sermon keeps quiet, doesn’t that encourage them to fall asleep?

I’m just saying …

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Days Are Truly Shorter

Remember the big ol’ earthquake that rocked Chile on Feb. 27 and put Hawaii on a tsunami alert? According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), our days were shortened by the quake.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher Richard Gross computed that the Earth’s rotation changed, shortening each Earth day by 1.26 microseconds. That’s 1.26 millionths of a second.

In addition, the Earth’s axis moved about three inches.

So far, I can understand it. Here’s where they lose me. According to NASA:

By comparison, Gross said the same model estimated the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatran earthquake should have shortened the length of day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted Earth's axis by 2.32 milliarcseconds (about 7 centimeters, or 2.76 inches).

Gross said that even though the Chilean earthquake is much smaller than the Sumatran quake, it is predicted to have changed the position of the figure axis by a bit more for two reasons. First, unlike the 2004 Sumatran earthquake, which was located near the equator, the 2010 Chilean earthquake was located in Earth's mid-latitudes, which makes it more effective in shifting Earth's figure axis. Second, the fault responsible for the 2010 Chiliean earthquake dips into Earth at a slightly steeper angle than does the fault responsible for the 2004 Sumatran earthquake. This makes the Chile fault more effective in moving Earth's mass vertically and hence more effective in shifting Earth's figure axis.

Didja get all that? Good. Now explain it to me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

“Beard Saga II” Coming Along Nicely

It’s been six weeks since I started growing my new beard.

Once my facial hair reached the “pretty shaggy and substantial” stage, I started doing a little bit of trimming – shaving the neck area and generally shaping the lower boundary of my beard just below the jaw line.

I also trimmed the bottom of my moustache so the hair wouldn't poke my lower lip. There was some sparse grown just below my cheekbones, so I got rid of those as well.

Not bad. I think I’m beginning to look like a college professor again.

The Beard: Initial Shaping

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lights Out!

Tonight at 8:30 p.m. local, wherever you’re at, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is asking you to turn off your lights for an hour to observe its third annual “Earth Hour.”

Your participation is supposed to indicate your concern for climate change. “Lights out” is the mantra, I guess, which seemed kind of strange to me when I was hear about this year’s Earth Hour this morning.

Don’t “lights out” and “WWF” remind you (as they did me) of Hulk Hogan’s Atomic Leg Drop that knocked his opponents unconscious (lights out) when he was wrestling with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)?

Or am I too ‘way out in left field today?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

Spring training is here and baseball has turned the corner of my mind and once again has muscled into my thoughts. So I’m reminded of another minor league baseball promotion that caught my eye.

The Quad City River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa, implored fans to tattoo themselves with the River Bandits logo on a visible part of their body.

The promotion went like this: If any fan went through the pain, the fan would receive season’s tickets (retail $300) to cheer on the Bandits. Simple enough.

"Team Tattoo Night" was apparently a success. Twenty-eight people took them up.

River Bandits general manager Kirk Goodman was ecstatic to know that there were 28 permanent logos floating around the community.

Don’t things like this just crack you up? I think it’s hilarious, myself.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stinky Sneakers? You Betcha!

I wonder if 11-year-old Trinette Robinson of Bristol, Connecticut is going to keep ‘em – her prize-winning sneakers, that is.

They’re kind of unusual. They’ve just been named the stinkiest pair of sneakers on the planet by Odor-Eaters in their 35th annual Rotten Sneaker competition. The winner was unveiled – or rather, held at arm’s length – yesterday.

The winning pair had to excel in vile-ness of condition and smell.

Nine kids aged 6 to 16 competed and Trinette’s stinkers emerged on top. And for that, she won $2,500 and an expenses-paid trip to New York.

Perhaps she can donate the shoes to a homeless person there. I’m sure the shoes would smell better than any they might already have.

Which best the question: How often does she wash her feet anyway?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It’s Been Found!

Have you ever been stranded up the creek without a paddle? Well … at last, someone’s come to the rescue!

I kid you not!

Monday, March 22, 2010

TMC is a Godsend

During the weeks preceding the annual Academy Awards presentations, I DVRed a bunch of classic movies from Turner Movie Classics (TMC), so I could watch them and review them for my "Shhh! The Movie's Starting" blog.

I like TMC. Their movie repertoire is amazing, and they broadcast them commercial-free.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to view them all as we had a family emergency that required my nearly fulltime attention this past week and a half. I finally got to watch a couple today, and pared the "gotta see" list down from 15 to 13. Holy Makkel!

TMC ... one of my favorite cable TV channels.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Wellman Bobble-Head Doll

A good friend of mine from Texas knows I’m an Atlanta Braves fan.

Her husband, Phillip Wellman, just happens to be the manager of the Mississippi Braves, one of Atlanta’s minor league clubs.

The other day, she sent me a terrific Mississippi Braves cap as a souvenir that I can wear while cheering on the Braves. Included in the box of Braves souvenirs was this bobble-head doll of her husband, Phillip Wellman.

I don’t know if you watch ESPN, but Phillip Wellman is famous for blowing his stack when the umpire tossed his pitcher out of their game against the Chattanooga Lookouts, earning him a three-game suspension, but also making him famous.

ESPN ranked his episode #1 in their Top Ten Meltdowns of 2007.

Not only is he famous, he’s a pretty good manager. Last year, he led his Mississippi club to the Southern League championship, beating the Carolina Mudcats 3-2 in a decisive extra-inning game.

And I’ve got his bobble-head doll sitting on my desk now, nodding at me with every key that I punch on my keyboard.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

There Are Times When …

… curiosity gets the best of me. Last night was one of those times.

The nurse attending to the patient I was visiting at Queen's Hospital was hooking up a new bag of something called Peptamen AF, which is a liquid nutritional formula used to tube-feed adults in the hospital who are unable to feed themselves normally, or who have a compromised gastro-intestinal function, or who simply have challenging feeding issues.

Think of it as baby formula (made by Nestle) for adults. It’s yellow and packed full of the good stuff, providing a balanced distribution of protein, fat and carbohydrate. In other words, it’s just what the body needs to refuel.

Well, last night I decided I wanted to taste it. Everybody in the room thought I was nuts – “Ewww,” and “Don’t do it,” and “What?”

The nurse obliged me putting a few drops in a little medicine cup. You know what? It wasn’t bad-tasting at all, and reminded me of Enfamil baby formula.

When I went there today to re-visit the patient, word apparently had gotten around. I think I may now be a legend there. Nah, couldn’t be … could it?

There are times when one just has to try for himself. Right?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mystery Picture

Let’s see how good you are at identifying something close-up.

Any idea what the above picture is of? Any thoughts? Any wild guesses?

Is it from (to quote an oft-used question that second most popular in the game “20 Questions”) an animal, vegetable or mineral?

Here’s a hint, I took this photograph at Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu, but you might likely find something like it elsewhere on the island.

Give up?

Okay … here’s the larger picture it was taken from.

Those are plumeria flower buds. See how easy that was? Didja get it? Didja get it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Immigrant Laborer Contract

I discovered a terrific document hanging in the hallway of Queen’s Hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit.

It’s a labor contract for a Japanese immigrant who came to Hawaii in 1900 to work in the sugar cane fields.

If you click on the picture above, a larger and more easily read version will appear, so you can check out the details of the agreement between the worker and the Japanese Immigration Bureau.

It’s fascinating if you’re into this sort of stuff, and the part that really interested me is that the man – Karumon Miyashita – contracted to be paid $15 a month. If his wife Soye worked, she would be paid $10 a month.

Each month, the bureau deducted $2.50 from his pay and put it in a trust fund to be used to secure return passage for Mr. Miyashita and his wife to Japan.

See? It pays to wander the halls of a hospital while waiting for a patient’s room to be cleaned.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Media Seduce When They Should INduce

Today’s social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MyPage), or “SM,” are being touted as the newest and possibly most important tools in the communications chest of public relations, marketing and advertising people. And to an extent, they are.

But … much like communications consultants who rely on measurement of column inches or minutes of air time, SM advocates are being shallow strategists if they are seduced by social media’s technology. Counting the exposures (e.g. Facebook friends list, Twitter followers) does not prove successful strategic communication.

Social media are tools that do not replace sound strategic thinking. It’s not HOW you communicate, but WHY you communicate that’s important. The real test of one’s efforts is not that you’ve tweeted or posted a message on your Facebook page, but that someone DID something when you wanted them to, because of it.

There are those who argue that education is paramount in business and organizational communication. This is short-sighted thinking. Educating someone is not the important thing. In and of itself, education doesn’t do much. However, persuading your audience to do something BECAUSE of what you’ve taught them is the most important thing.

Hammers, nails, other tools and equipment, and materials are important if you want to build a house. That’s what social media are. But you need building plans to build a house. That’s strategy. You can’t build a house without building plans, and you can’t have successful social media without a communications strategy.

Eschew the “what” and “how,” and focus on the “why.” Identify exactly who it is you want to influence. Set specific goals and objectives in your social media plan, and then take steps to measure how far you’ve come to reach them.

Don’t count attempts, but measure results and how much you got people to do what you want them to do.

Make your social media INduce your audience to do something.

And that’s what I have to say … about THAT.

Monday, March 15, 2010

They Can’t Mean That …

… Can they?

Is the hospital really serious when they put up a sign that says no food or drink is allowed in a waiting area?
Nah, they can’t really mean that.
Well, you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Queen’s Hospital Critical Care Unit waiting room the past couple of days and am amazed at the number of people who (1) don’t read the rules, and/or (2) don’t respect them enough to follow them.
Large throngs of family clans numbering 10 or more pour out of the elevator carrying plastic shopping bags or boxes full of take-out lunches or home meal leftovers.
One of the groups consisted of 10 children, 10 adults and two large cardboard boxes piled high with “take-out” containers. Oh, and three gigantic cups of sodas too.

The 10 kids proceeded to make their presence known, running around the waiting area. I mean, don't these people believe in leaving kids home with babysitters or older children or other family members when they visit a hospital of all places?
Our small family group of 3 had a difficult time finding three seats together every time we arrived.
Well, when all's said and down, I can be patient with the kids, I can be patient with the wait, and I can be patient with big family groups. After all, I’m a pretty patient guy.
What irks me is the total disregard for the “no food” rule, and the lack of any hospital personnel assigned to the CCU waiting room reception desk who can enforce the rule and keep order.
If I were a Grinchy guy, I’d point out the sign to everyone who brings in food. But I’m not a Grinchy guy. But I may turn into one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

“Beard Saga II” Continues

It’s been four weeks since I last shaved, and my beard has reached the “Getting There Shaggy” stage.

I’ll give it a day or so and then will start shaping it with some selected shaving.

The hair on the upper lip no longer pokes against my lower lip, thank goodness. That was a bit uncomfortable.

The Beard: Pre-Initial Shaping

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I’m Rich! I’m Rich!

Not only that, I have a new car too, according to an email I received yesterday from Ordförande Pelikan.

To wit:


We the Exactmax Group board of directors like to officially congratulate you for the draw that was just held by our company which featured you as the second place winner..You have won a Brand New Toyota camry and a cash prize of £570,000.00 GBP

Your Qualification number is: (DVT-00110-WIN-108YR-8XJ).
REMITTANCE CONTACT Name : Mr.Lee Chin Wilson. Email:
(Contact name) Address : (XXX) wilford park,
London. United Kingdom. Phone : +44-(XXX-XXX)-8891

Regards, Lee Chen

Isn’t that just amazing? Just how stupid do these scam artists think I am, anyway?

I’ve deleted some of the details so anyone reading this doesn’t try to follow up and fall into their clutches.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Local Pronunciashan

Here’s another example of the Hawaii dialect that you may encounter if you know or meet local residents of Hawaii.

I hear people in Hawaii pronouncing “an” instead of “un” when words end in “on.”

Whereas you and I would say “CAR-tun” when we refer to a box, Hawaii long-timers might say “cah-TAN,” with an accent on the last syllable (they often have difficulty rounding out a syllable that ends in “r”).

It also carries over to the pronunciation of “tion.” Whereas it’s normally pronounced “NAY-shun,” they say “NAY-shan.”

It’s just another interesting localism you can pick up on if you just keep your ears open in Hawaii.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why the Open Windows?

Take a good look at this picture. The twin towers belong to the Prince Court. During our Magic Island walk today, my attention was drawn to the dark spots that look like several open windows on the towers.

Now, as one who appreciates comfort, I wondered if the windows were open. Obviously the units are air conditioned, and opening the windows would defeat the A/C’s raison d’etre. But who am I to criticize those who appreciate the sea breeze?

It was getting too complicated to contemplate, but fortunately the simplest answer is usually right. We figured out that the dark windows were units where the drapery was drawn open.

See? How easy was that?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

World’s Ugliest Dog

His name is Rascal, he’s a Chinese Crested, and he has a distinction that can be claimed by only one dog a year. He’s been named 2010’s “World’s Ugliest Dog.”

Not that he’s new at this sort of thing – Rascal won the title in 2002 as well. And, it runs in the family. His mother, grandmother and grandfather have all claimed the title in the past.

Chi Chi, his grandfather, is immortalized in the Guinness Book of World Records for winning the competition 7 (SEVEN!) years in a row.

Rascal has eyes that bug out of his head, a tongue that flops out of his mouth, and no hair except for a Mohawk on the top of his head. He’s a movie star too, with cameo appearances in three horror shows.

Can you imagine how he’d fare in the Westminster Kennel Dog Show?

Sponsored by Animal Planet, the competition carries a top prize of $1,000. I hope the owner uses some of the prize money to get Rascal a comb.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Omeletus Vomitus

The family went to Pagoda Floating Restaurant for brunch yesterday, which as you know is NOT one of my favorite places to eat. But I had to go with them because three of them were celebrating birthdays and they love the place.
Everything in the buffet was practically the same as before, except that they had a couple of different entrees. I won’t bore you with the critical details about what I eventually put on my plate.
However, I just had to share this picture I took of the omelet made for me.

Omeletus Vomitus
I don’t know where the omelet-maker got his training, but he needs to go back for a couple of refresher courses on how to create an appetizing omelet.
My scallop/shrimp/tomato omelet was overcooked and toasted so badly that looked like barf. Not only that, he didn’t know how to fold it onto the plate.
Yecch. I picked out a couple of scallops to taste, then threw the omelet away.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Those Despicable Wrap-Around Ads

In a word, I hate them. Yeah, yeah, I know … that’s three words.
But that only goes to stress the point that I hate wrap-around advertisements that come in the newspaper. They intrude on my sense of well-being.
At first it was just in the Sunday comics section, but more recently the wrap-arounds have been impinging on my ability to read the front page without distraction.
So you know what I do? I immediately remove the front-section wrap-around and toss it. It usually is a separate sheet of paper, thank goodness.
The comics section wrap-around is attached to the back sheet of comics, so I have to tear it off, which leaves a ragged edge on the last pages of comics and offends my sense of propriety.
If the ads are meant to catch my attention and implant the advertiser in my self-conscious, it doesn’t work.
Except for the fact that I took a picture of today’s wrap-arounds and it’s posted here, I wouldn’t even know who the advertisers are.
I hate wrap-around ads in the newspaper.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Watching Nothing Happen

This cracked me up. At St. Mark’s Square in Las Vegas’ Venetian Resort, I watched a bunch of people sitting and watching a woman dressed in white doing absolutely nothing.

The “do-nothing” person was Anne Taylor, one of the “living statues” who perform (or rather, “don’t do anything”) for a long stretches of time. She'd just stand there, and people would watch … and watch … and watch.

Every now and then, someone in the audience would walk up to her and drop some money in the jar.

Did she thank them? Nope. She did nothing … and then nothing … and then more of nothing.

And the people would watch … and watch … and watch.

I felt like yelling, “People! Get a grip! She’s not doing anything, and she’s not GOING to do anything! That’s what she does for a living! NOTHING!”

But would anybody listen? I doubt it. They’d just watch … and watch … and watch.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Eyebrow Threading

One day in San Jose, whilst strolling through the mall, I happened upon the poster that you see here.

It advertised “Eyebrow Threading.” Wait … did I just say eyebrow threading? What the heck is that? Guess it was a sign to me that I needed some self-education. So I looked up the term.

Threading is an ancient method of removing hair (“epilation”); it originated in China, is used extensively in India and other Eastern countries, and is now catching on in the West.

Basically, what the specialists do is roll and twist pure, thin cotton thread along the skin’s surface. This entwines the hair into the thread, which is then yanked off, taking the hair along with it.

It’s said to be more precise than waxing, allowing for better lines. Plus, no chemicals are used, resulting in zero skin trauma.

And this is what they will do to your eyebrows if you want. No tweezing, no plucking. Just tangling in a precise line, then pulling.

A caveat: If they do it badly, you may end up with uneven brows, broken hair, in-grown hairs (ewwww) or … (gulp) pain.

Owee! I pass.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hawaii Tsunami ‘Buyer’s Remorse’

Honolulu’s supermarkets, drug stores and big-box stores had a lot to contend with, regarding last week’s tsunami warning.

First, they had to service the large crowds that rushed to the stores and bought large amounts of batteries, bottled water, toilet paper and generators in a panic.

Now, they have to deal with buyer’s remorse as many of their red-faced customers are returning carloads of the stuff they bought in their over-zealous “Be Prepared” and hoarding state of mind.

This happens every time there is a tsunami or hurricane warning. People in Hawaii always over-react. I don’t want to say they’re stupid, but they sure are unprepared for the consequences of their illogical, ill-conceived, uneducated decisions.

The stores, with a few exceptions, are magnanimous in their willingness to take the products back if they are unopened. Some aren’t even asking for receipts.

Good for them. And shame on the panicky citizenry!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Street Magic

One of these days, I’ll be walking down the street and a strange young guy wearing a tee shirt and black jeans is going to walk up to me and say, “Wanna see something? Wait. Look at this.”

I’ll stop and look at him curiously. He’ll stare into my eyes and say, “I don’t know if this will work, but it’s pretty neat.”

Okay, I’ll be hooked.

He’ll take out a pack of cards, fan them out face down and tell me to pick one. I will pull one out … it’s the 8 of spades, but he won’t know that.

“Put it back in the deck,” he’ll say. I’ll do just that.

He’ll then shuffle the cards and throw them against a store window. The cards will hit the glass and fall to the ground.

All except one. It’ll be the 8 of spades, and it’ll be stuck to the window, face side toward us.

The thing is, it’ll be on the OTHER SIDE of the window.

“How … how’d you do that?” I’ll ask incredulously.

The young man will just look at me seriously, and say, “Wanna see another one?”

Hell yeah, I would. So he’ll have me pick out another card, write my name on the face, and return it to the deck … which I’ll do.

He’ll tell me to “keep your feet planted firmly on the sidewalk.” I’ll do that.

He’ll drop the deck of cards on the ground in front of me, bend down, and as I watch him like a hawk, brush the cards away from my feet. My feet will remain planted firmly on the sidewalk.

This guy will rise up again, stand back, and ask me to lift my left foot.

Under my left foot will be the card I picked, with my name on it in my own handwriting, exactly the way I wrote on it.

I’ll stare at the card, look at the guy, back at the card, back at the guy.

“How’d you do that?” I’ll ask.

He’ll just look at me, expressionless, turn around, and walk away.

His name will be David Blaine.

I can’t wait!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

“Beard Saga II” Has Begun

A few years ago, I grew a beard. That was fun, growing it out, and then sculpting it into a couple of different styles before shaving it off altogether after four months or so.

I’ve decided to grow one again. Here’s what it looks like after two weeks. Not much to look at, but definitely on its way to Stage One: Shaggy.

The Beard: After two weeks

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prime Rib Heaven

As I was starting to say on Saturday before Mother Nature so rudely interrupted …

If you’re a carnivore worth your salt, you like prime rib. But if you’re a carnivore to the Nth degree (like me), you LOVE prime rib.

I’ve had prime rib in nearly every city I’ve visited over the past 45+ years, but despite devouring dozens of the heaven-sent roast steaks, it’s easy for me to narrow down to five, the best prime ribs I’ve ever had.

5: Outback Steakhouse in the Buena Vista Palace Hotel, Orlando, Florida. This was the first time (1995) I ever ate at an Outback and we so enjoyed the experience. I’ve been to other Outbacks since then, but the prime ribs don’t compare to the first.

4: Hugo’s Cellar in the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a great place for dinner; all the steak and rib entrées are top notch. I had a three-inch thick prime rib there one New Year’s eve. Whenever I want to have a fine-dining dinner in downtown Las Vegas, this is where I go.

3: House of Lords in the Sahara Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada. In general, the food at the Sahara is pretty ordinary, except for the House of Lords. The serving is huge and the prime rib is excellent. I’ve been there a few times in the past 10 years.

2: Original Joe’s Italian Restaurant in downtown San Jose. Yes, it’s an Italian restaurant, but their prime rib is amazing. I went there for the first time this past fall. Next time I’m in San Jose, I’m heading back there.

1: Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Consistently the best prime rib I’ve ever had. My first experience was the Los Angeles restaurant in the mid-‘60s when I was in college. I cannot count the number of times I’ve enjoyed prime rib at Lawry’s, but the last time I was there was June 2009, so I’m due to get back soon.

You may have noticed that three of these restaurants are in Las Vegas. That’s to be expected. More prime beef is sold in Las Vegas than anywhere else in the world.