Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It’s Twilight Time

Heavenly shades of night are falling … it’s twilight time – a Twilight LINE, actually.

When I arrived at the movie theater yesterday just after the noon hour, I noticed about a dozen people camped out in a line.

What the heck were they there for?

The girl at the ticket office said the people in line had bought tickets to the midnight showing of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the final movie of the Twilight trilogy.

Goodness. Guess that’s what I get for not keeping up with pop culture. The “Twilight” books and movies skew heavily toward teen-aged girls and their mothers. And in fact, marketing has generally been limited toward them, leaving out general adults and young men altogether.

No wonder I’m in the dark about the young Twilight vamps and wolves.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Snow in the Sierras

It may have been 102-106 degrees when I was in Las Vegas a few days ago, but it’s helpful to remember that summer officially began only last week.

I was reminded of that when I looked out my airplane window about half-way between Vegas and San Francisco as we passed over the Sierra Madres.

That’s snow – a LOT of snow – on the mountains!

Cool, huh?

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Hotel Rooms in Las Vegas

I was fortunate to have complimentary rooms at two hotels during my recent vacation trip to Las Vegas – at the Orleans for two nights before moving to The Palazzo for the remainder of my stay.

It had been a couple of years since I last stayed at the Orleans, so I was interested to see what kind of improvements they’d made to the rooms.

They did a good job; I was pretty impressed with the room, the furnishings and appointments.

My Room at the Orleans

Then I moved over to The Palazzo, the sister property to The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip.

This is an entirely new experience; usually, when I stay at the Strip hotel, it’s Harrah’s.

All I can say about my room at The Palazzo is … the difference in class really shows. The room was luxurious, on a par at least with The Bellagio. There was entirely too much in the room for just one person. For example, there were two high-definition flat screen television sets in the room, and that’s not counting a small flat-screen in the bathroom.

The drapes and Roman curtains were remote-controlled, and they provided wireless internet and an excellent fax/printer for my use.

My Room at The Palazzo

My opinion on the two hotel rooms? The Orleans was nice, yet definitely not on a par with The Palazzo. But, I’m not complaining … after all, the rooms were complimentary.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Las Vegas Natural History Museum

It’s not the biggest museum in America, but it’s nicely designed, clean, and one of my favorites anyway.
Every couple of years, I take a drive into North Las Vegas and spend an hour or so at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, taking in the stuffed wildlife, the small aquatics area, worldwide archaeology, and all kinds of paleontology exhibits –dinosaur fossil displays, Ice Age creatures, and life-sized animals.
There’s an admission fee, but it all goes to upkeep of the museum, which operates in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.
To get there, drive north on Las Vegas Boulevard (“the Strip”), through downtown until you reach Cashman Center. It’s just past that; easy to find.
Here are a few photos that hopefully will whet your curiosity:
Ugly-faced prehistoric wart hog

Hungry lion attacking wildebeest
Hall of antelopes and deer
Killer whales and other hunters of the sea

Egyptian papyrus art

So ... go visit! And take the kids; they'll enjoy the dinosaurs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hoover Dam

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Las Vegas but I knew it was going to get a bit warm. I could have stayed in my room and shivered in the air conditioning, or I could have stayed in the casino and really cooled off when I lost my shirt.

So what did I do? I jumped into the car and drove south to Hoover Dam. At least it was cool inside the car, although I know it was broiling outside where the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees.

It’s been a lotta years since I last visited Hoover Dam. I’ve always just passed through Boulder City and glanced at the little business section, but never really stopped.

This time, I stopped. I hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I parked across the street from a little place called Mel’s Diner. And I do mean small – there were maybe 12 tables inside, and 9 or 10 seats at the counter. But the lady at the cash register was nice, the waitress who took my order was nice, and even the patrons were nodding hello as they passed me.

(Chicken-fried steak … yum!)

When I reached the Hacienda Casino, the traffic slowed to a crawl – a bumper-to-bumper classic two-lane road crawl. And it continued that way for at least two miles. I had seen some signs along the highway (“Construction on the Arizona Side, Highway 93,” and “Expect Delays”) but this was ridiculous.

Well, it turns out that the congestion was caused by the security checkpoint. Every car had to stop while a Fed ranger peeked in and waved us through one by one. It was smooth sailing from there.

They’ve changed the area since I was last there, building a huge parking structure on the side of the mountain. Now you can’t park close to the dam, but rather must walk … and walk … and walk.

Plus, the new visitor’s center was closed, so there were no tours being given. So there were people walking everywhere. I refused to be one of them, so I drove over to the Arizona side and took some pictures from the parking lot there, foregoing a walk along the top of the dam.

As I drove back, I stuck Pinchy out of the window and took some pictures of him that way. Then, I decided to drive into the parking structure, pay my $7 and at least get some pictures of the entire dam from on high. I have to say I did decide to walk along the dam, but when I found out the elevator wasn’t working, I said forget it.

The walk down wasn’t too bad (there were 150 steps, according to an old panting feller I met as he huffed and puffed his way back up the stairs) but good thing I checked the elevator. It was out of commission. So a quarter-way down, I thought better of it, turned around and headed back up.

It was just too damned hot. Fifty pounds ago, I would have, but not in 104° heat.

So I just jumped back in the car and headed back to Las Vegas, getting back to my hotel in late afternoon. Boy, the A/C in my room felt good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chocolates and Cacti

About 25 years ago, almost to the month, I attended a printer’s convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center with the company in whose building my office was situated.

One of the joy rides we took during the afternoons when we’d “display exhibited” ourselves out and needed a long break was a tour of the Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Green Valley.

It’s not real close to downtown Las Vegas, where our hotel was, and it took about a half-hour to get there by surface street – one rider plotting out directions on a large street map.

Yesterday I decided to check it out again and see if anything had changed in the two-and-a-half decades since. First of all, it didn’t take quite as long as the first time, thanks to Google and its maps.

The Factory Tour

You know what? The factory itself and the tour haven’t changed. You just enter the building, walk down a hallway with large glass windows on the left side, and watch the workers making the candy. The first time I was there, no work was being done. But yesterday, there they were, all dressed in white, making the sweet stuff.

At the end of the hallway, say 100 feet or so, was a nice lady who was handing out samples – little coin-sized pieces of chocolate candy (dark, white, and milk), and peanut brittle.

“If you want peanut brittle, you can choose one of the chocolates,” she said. “Otherwise, you can have all three chocolates.” Now what was THAT all about? Oh well, free is free.

Then you exit through the candy store where people were buying candy like it was going out of style. Here are a few pictures I took during the factory tour:

Packing peanut brittle for shipment

Cheerful free-sample lady

Sugar-Free means no calories?

The Botanical Cactus Garden

Twenty-five years ago, when I first saw the cactus garden, it was small, no bigger than master bedroom-sized. And all the cacti were small, like the ones you find at flower shows in little pots.

Yesterday, I was amazed at how large the cacti were, and how they’d been organized with paths between and identification signs for all of the varieties.

Here ya go … some cactus pictures. I know, I know, they’re all green with very little color, but after all, they ARE cacti and they DO live in the desert:

Saguaro Cactus

Lobivia Cactus

Red Barrel Cactus

Just goes to show you … Just because you’ve been somewhere before, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go back and see how much things have changed.

Besides, if you’re lucky, you might even get some free candy to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Las Vegas 51s Baseball

Every year, I try to get to a professional baseball game. Most years I’m able to attend a Major League Baseball game, but it looked as though this year just wasn’t going to pan out.

Until last night, that is. I went to a baseball game. Admittedly, it wasn’t a major league game, but it was the next best thing as the Las Vegas 51s, the AAA minor league affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, hosted the Sacramento Riverdogs, who are affiliated with the Oakland Athletics.

What a night it was!

I got to munch on peanuts and drink a beer, while talking to some of the wonderful people who were seated around me. And speaking of seats, I was near ground level, in the third row of the blue seats, right behind home plate looking down the first-base line. Home plate was only about 20 feet away from me.

I got to cool off when the sun went down and the 97-degree heat from the late-afternoon sun cooled down to a comfortable warm summer baseball evening in the high-70s.

I got to watch kids and young adults compete between innings in the bat-spin race, the pitching game, the beat Cosmo around the bases race, the race to see who could jersey-up first, and the load up the serving platter game.

Speaking of Cosmo … he’s the team mascot, a weird-looking dude with big eyes that’s supposed to represent a visiting alien from another world (re Area 51, for which the team is named). One little girl behind me was calling out for him to get closer, then when he did, she screamed and hung on to her mommy for dear life.

I got to hear a crusty ol’ fan to the left of me ring his little desk bell in time to the music, blow taps on his bugle when the Riverdogs relieved their pitcher in the middle of the inning, and belch out his beer-breath approval when the 51s scored. He was an equal-opportunity heckler, yelling out disparaging remarks to 51s, Riverdogs, and umps alike. Amazing, the epitome of a baseball fan.

I got to overhear a guy in front of me say his name was Craig, so I tapped him on his shoulder and introduced myself. As I said, you meet the nicest people at baseball games.

I got to stand and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” led by three boys up in the press box.

I got to trudge back up a hill to the parking lot and search around for 20 minutes before I found my car (a rental, and y’know how hard it is to remember what make, model and color it is).

But best of all, I was one of the first 2,000 through the gates, which meant I got a bobble-head doll – Carrot Top in a 51s uniform! I know just the spot for him. Carrot Top can stand (Sit? Bobble?) next to AA Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman. They can bobble to each other for as long as they want, 24/7.

Who won the game? The home team, of course: Las Vegas 51s 12, Sacramento Riverdogs 10.

I love baseball.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Grazie Gifts Extravaganza

I’ve moved over to The Palazzo in Las Vegas for four complimentary nights as an invitee to their slot club‘s (Club Grazie) Summer Grazie Gifts Extravaganza.

Although I had no idea what the gifts extravaganza was, I was soon educated upon checking in – they gave me a special letter explaining it, and when I could attend, which is pretty much all day until the end of this week.

Because I had played the slots on my February trip to Las Vegas, the points I earned had increased exponentially because of a multiplier formula they used.

I had 59,730 points, and to me that sounded like a big deal. So, I went to the event, walking into an exhibit room with all kinds of goodies there for the taking if you had enough points – high-end brand-name electronics, luxurious crystal, the latest toys and game for men and women, fashion duds, gardening equipment, beach gear … all kinds of good stuff.

There wasn’t much that was calling out my name, so I spent 57,000 points on a $100 Best Buy gift card, which I know I can use.

What I really wanted to get was the beautiful red Mini Cooper convertible. But I was a little shy on points. The blasted thing was going for 16 million points – (16,000,000!).

But good news is that I still have 2,730 points left in my account. Maybe if I gamble enough, I can earn the 15,997,270 points I’m shy.

Whattaya think?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Jacksons Were Here!

As I was flipping through the channels of the TV set in my room here at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas, I chanced upon the hotel’s “events” channel.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this scrolling up: The Jackson Family reunion!

So … seeing as I had about 15 minutes before the reunion wound down, I hunted down Salon G and took a peek inside.

Naaah. it wasn’t the famous Jackson family. I knew that from the start, of course, but I just wanted to make sure.

Because … what if?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Crackling Road to Vegas

I’m in Las Vegas this week. Oh, I didn’t tell you? Sorry ‘bouddat.
Anyway, it was a pretty uncomfortable journey this time. My fine china composure experienced a few cracks along the way. Crackle crackle.
First of all, I was on a 757. I hate that plane. It’s narrow – really narrow. Six seats abreast, three on each side of an aisle a darned sight narrower than two feet wide. So when the carts passed by, the flight attendants were always bumping my shoulder even though I kept my exposed elbow pressed against my left side.
Behind me on the Honolulu-San Francisco flight were three young girls (I’d say high school) who were jibber-jabbering away for the first hour or so, carrying on a teenager-themed conversation amongst themselves and their friend across the aisle. They didn’t stop until the movie started.
Then, there was a little kid sitting in the middle seat. That in itself wasn’t too bad; this child was pretty well-behaved and quiet throughout the five-hour flight, sleeping practically all the way across the Pacific, waking up only when we were about to disembark.
The problem was that he must have been dreaming he was running. He was lying crosswise on the seat and his feet were practically in my lap. Which isn’t intolerable (I’m a pretty patient guy) – just when he moved them, kicking a little to get comfortable.
The connecting flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas was pretty inconsequential, thank the Lord.
But then … after I picked up my rental car, I drove quite a long way to try out a restaurant that I’d read about – Beach Café in the southwest area of Las Vegas not too far from the airport.
Turns out it was just a hamburger and sandwich place. You need to order at the counter, pick up your food when they call your name, then take it to the table – not the kind of place I write about in my restaurant blog.
So I left, then drove back down the road to a place called Ambrosia Café that I’d passed a few minutes ago. No luck there either, it’s a pizza and hamburger place. Heck, I figured I’d drive to the Las Vegas Outlets and eat at one of the chain restaurants there, so I could have something to post in my restaurant blog.
Guess what? I missed the turnoff and was headed toward Henderson and Green Valley Ranch Casino. So I went all the way there and had a very late noontime breakfast at The Original Pancake House, the best decision I’d made all day.
And that’s when the crackling stopped. I’m having a wonderful day now!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Multiethnic Cohort Study

Last night, I completed another study by the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, which is affiliated with the University of Hawaii and the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine – the third time I’ve participated in research such as this.

The Multiethnic Cohort study is pretty interesting stuff. They asked me (1) to complete a long questionnaire about the foods I eat, the portion sizes and the quantities consumed, (2) to take three phone calls where the interviewer asks me what I ate the day before, and (3) to complete a final long questionnaire similar to the first.

The questionnaires took some time to complete – a half-hour or so of filling in the circles, page after page (about 25), twice. The interviews were about 10-15 minutes or so in length and it was quite pleasant to talk to the young lady who called three Saturday mornings in a row to find out my Friday food intake.

I’ll put the completed questionnaire booklet in the mail to them today.

I remember one of the earlier studies years ago that required a follow-up blood test, and one that required a urine sample at a local diagnostic laboratory. Or maybe it was the same study? I forget.

They will reward me this time with a $50 gift certificate. That wasn’t the reason I participated, however. I’m a sucker for studies and research, and if it’s not during dinner or my shower or my bedtime, I’ll answer most any researcher’s questions.

But don’t get any ideas now. Okay?

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to Fight Depression

You say life has got you down, that you’re stuck in a rut and can’t get out? You say nobody cares about you, that you want to bury your woes in a quart of Cherry Garcia ice cream?

Well, have I got some suggestions for you, all carefully researched and journalized by the experts. And the last one is a doozy!

1. Think Fast. Research has shown that rapid-fire thinking will make you happier and more energetic, confident and creative.

2. Be Outgoing. Force yourself into the high-personality habit. Be assertive and adventurous and your mood will improve.

3. Help Somebody. Volunteer, bring soup to your neighbor, give a homeless person something, and you’ll feel good about yourself.

4. BUY SOMETHING! Treat yourself to something good. It’s not the size of the treat that improves your mood, it’s the pleasure of the experience. A free store sample or finding a penny on the street will do just as well. But what the hell … BUY SOMETHING!

Now, if I can only get my doctor to put that into a written prescription, maybe I can write my purchases off as medical expenses?

Huh? Whattaya think?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Remember when the network TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was really popular, drawing audiences that numbered in the millions, and making Regis Philbin a household name again?

Well, the Nashua Pride, a professional baseball team in Nashua, New Hampshire, before moving to Pittsfield, Massachusetts and renaming themselves the Pittsfield Colonials, took advantage of the show’s popularity.

They held their own “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” night.

The Pride – members of the Atlantic Baseball League at the time – didn’t have that kind of money to give away, and I’m sure their total team payroll didn’t even approach that figure.

So they did something creative. They added the word “Turkish” into their promotion title – “Who Wants to be a Turkish Millionaire?”

Fans answered trivia questions for a chance to win one million Turkish lira … worth a little more than a dollar.

I love minor league baseball team promotions! They are soooo creative.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Local Loco Moco Mojo

Well smack me down and call me loco, or you can call me Moco, or you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can … ahhhh, never mind. I got carried away and wandered too far into left field again.

You know what loco moco is, right? I’ve talked about it several times here in left field, and in that place for my taste over there on the other side of your computer screen.

Loco moco is a plate or bowl of rice with a hamburger patty on it, covered with brown gravy, and with a fried egg sitting right on top. There are variations – rice, patty, egg, THEN gravy … country gravy instead of brown gravy … Spam instead of the hamburger patty … kimchee or potato-macaroni salad on the side … maybe some mayonnaise between the rice and patty.

We take it pretty seriously here in Hawaii. There’s always debate about where it originated. Some say it started on Kauai, others (like me) argue that it’s a Hilo concoction. I remember having loco moco at a small little restaurant (no, not Café 100) when I was a mere lad in the late ‘50s, going through puberty in junior high.

So here’s the deal.

I just learned that there will be a month-long competition to determine which Waikiki restaurant makes the best loco moco. Really? Yeah, really. Whatchu gotta do is order loco moco at Ocean House, Cheeseburger Restaurant Waikiki, Jimmy Buffett’s, Giovanni Pastrami, Keoni’s by Keo, AND Hula Grill.

Once you’ve gobbled down these six loco mocos, vote for your favorite on Facebook or Twitter (tag your post with #WBWloco and the name of your favorite).

Of course, you know my PR friends are putting this together, and they just can’t kick off a momentous event like this without a special event. Really? Yeah really.

If you’re not doing anything important this Saturday, June 19, haul your buns down to Cheeseburger in Paradise and lay your eyes on some Hawaii media people as they participate in a stuff-your-face-and-pass-the-bicarbonate loco moco gorging contest.

Who are the brave ‘uns? Catherine Toth (Daily Dish), Steve Uyehara (Hawaii News Now), Billy V. (Hawaiian 105 KINE), Raeceen Woolford (Miss Hawaii 2009 … woohoo!) and Charles Criscola (photographer and DJ). Hope they don't sneeze while they're doing it. Rice up the nose is nasty.

What? You’re not on Twitter and/or Facebook? Heyyyy, c’mon! Get with it. Otherwise, you’ll be eating loco moco in Waikiki without a chance to speak your piece!

You can always speak your piece here. Just make sure you don’t speak with your mouth full.

Really? Yeah, really.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Packers Fan Has It in His Blood

I first heard about 79-year-old Jim Becker while reading Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago. It was a little box where the magazine talks about “Signs of the Coming Apocalypse.” Having appropriated that designation as a label for several of my blog posts, I of course was interested.

But when I did the research, I was surprised. Mr. Becker certainly is NOT deserving of the “Apocalypse” dishonor.

I discovered that yes, he has been raising money over the years to buy season tickets for Green Bay Packers games by selling his blood. But there’s a good reason for that. He didn’t want to spend family money. He and his wife have 11 children to feed.

So instead, he sold his blood for $15 a pint, often enough to earn the annual price of a season ticket. That in itself would qualify him as a rabid fan.

But it’s not the entire story. If he hadn’t chosen the “blood sale” route, Becker might not be around today. During a routine physical that asked about his family history, the doctors found out that his father had “hemochromatosis,” and had died at the age of 43.

Hemochromatosis is a condition whereby your blood retains too much iron. The only way to alleviate the excess iron build-up is to remove blood. And that’s what was keeping Becker alive. He just didn’t find out until he’d already given 145 pints.

His loyalty to the Packers, coupled with his remarkable story, won him a spot in the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame, selected from 10 finalists who were voted upon by 40,000 fans.

In addition to four club seats to one of the Packers’ home games this coming season, Becker will receive a $500 Packers gift certificate and a one-year subscription to two Packers publications. Also, he and a guest (I would guess his wife, since she most assuredly needs a vacation to get away from 11 kids) will go on a road trip to a Packers away game – tickets, air fare and hotel room.

A sign that the Apocalypse is near? Hardly.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day 2010

Today is Flag Day, as you know. Or don’t you know? If you don’t, you should. It’s the one day in the year that we set aside to reflect on what the American flag symbolizes, and to honor those who adopted it in 1777.

The very first American flag I remember was the 48-star flag. Hawaii and Alaska were only territories at the time, and that flag had been the status quo for many years since Valentine’s Day 1912 when Arizona became the second territory to join the Union that year.

At that time, the stars were arranged in six rows of seven. The American flag would remain that way for 47 years, until Alaska became a state in January 1959 and the 49th star was added on Independence Day that year – seven rows of seven stars.

One year later, on July 4, 1960, Hawaii (which had officially joined the Union in August 1959) became the American flag’s 50th star – the American flag now displayed five rows of six stars, alternating with four rows of five stars.

Our American flag has not changed since then – 50 years come July 4.

This particular flag design has represented the United States of America and all Americans in peace and in war, flying over our participation in conflicts worldwide since Hawaii became a state – Cuba, Dominican Republic, Korea, Angola, Lebanon, Iran-Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the War on Terror.

The list actually is longer, but I’ve made my point: Our flag is us. If it’s there, we are there – if not in person, then for sure in spirit.

Long may it wave.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Say “Cheese!”

According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, if you eat cheese, you stand a chance of lessening your weight gain over time.

Imagine that!

Apparently, there’s a bunch of “conjugated linoleic acid” (CLA) in full-fat whole cheese that increases your metabolic mojo. The researchers found that CLA reduced fat and preserves muscle tissue. It also has cancer-fighting properties.

Just make sure you don’t stuff your face with it. The study found best results with a one-ounce portion each day – about the size of your thumb, or a Laughing Cow wedge.

Now … smile! Say “Cheese!”

Saturday, June 12, 2010

“Where’s George?” Dollar Bill

Life keeps handing one Easter eggs just when one least expects it.

Case in point: One of the dollar bills I received in change at the Dole Cannery Theaters yesterday had some red writing on it: “Trace This Bill,” on the front, and the website ( on two of the bill’s margins on the back.

I went to the website and entered the serial number to see what exciting parts of the world the bill had visited.

Here’s what I learned: The bill was first registered at 8:27 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2008, by someone named “Jay” who hails from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Jay got the bill as change from the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange food court Taco Bell. He rubber stamped the bill, then gave it to his friend Stephanie in exchange for a different bill.

Since then – one year, 192 days, and 21 hours later – I’m the first to add to the entry.

Obviously this bill has been around the block a few times ‘cause it’s got more wrinkles than a 100-year-old man who’s been in the sun too long. But nobody logged it in.

I’m going to take it with me on my next mainland trip and spend it on the continent so it increases its chances of inspiring more entries.

Fun, fun, fun!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ruby Tuesday Disappoints

I like Ruby Tuesday; I truly do. But life is full of disappointments, and Ruby Tuesday finally made the list.
After discovering that the restaurant now serves breakfast at a few of their locations on Saturdays and Sundays, I wanted to give them a try. The one that’s closest to us – in Ala Moana Center – was not on the breakfast-location list, so we had to take a little drive out past the airport on a Sunday morning.
Their breakfast menu was fine; it’s not a full menu, but there was a good choice. The food was okay, nothing really to scream headlines about, but the fried rice and kalua pig hash were fine (they just needed an additional sprinkle of salt).
However … when my orange juice arrived, the glass was dirty – water spots all over the base, and there was a piece of some kind of crud stuck to the underside. Very unappetizing.
I sent the juice back with a slightly disgusted grumble, but not before I took a picture to share with you.
Cruddy Water-Spotted Juice Glass

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Love the Rain

I Love the Rain

By Craig Miyamoto, October 2004

I love the rain, it cleans our world,

It freshens the heart, it give us new meaning

To live the way we were meant to be –

Full of energy, full of nourishing thoughts.

I’ve encountered rain that washed away the soil,

And yet I felt that nothing was lost.

For the liquid that it provided every piece of dirt

Gave it life, gave it hope, gave it meaning.

I’ve watched as mist floated down the crest

Of the valley, the foot of which shelters my home.

It created a rainbow that arced the heavens

And showed me the path to God’s loving heart.

I’ve watched as it swept by hard and flat,

And the rains of hurricane pelted my home.

But I’ve snuggled safely inside with hopes

And knew that this torrent would pass me by.

I’ve shivered as rain froze and pelted

Upon my jacket, ironically in desert,

The frigid sting cut through the fabric

And tingled my spirit that warmed within.

I’ve closed my eyes and felt the warm rain

As it bathed me, I lifted my humid arms

To embrace God’s gift that filled my eyes.

It cuddled me deep and gave me its name.

Like rain, the love that we feel for another

Just appears as if by magic to nourish us deep.

To her, I give praise and comfort and ease,

And I reach out, embracing the rain of her heart.

(I wrote this poem on a drizzly day, after retrieving my morning newspaper from the puddled driveway, wiping off my glasses, and drying my hair.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Organ Donor Opt-Out

New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has what he thinks is a good idea: Everyone should be considered an organ donor unless s/he opts out.

A “presumed consent” bill is going through the New York law-making process as we speak. It’s similar to what’s being done in a number of European countries, including France, the Netherlands and Spain.

Mr. Brodsky was inspired by the fact that 500 New Yorkers die annually while waiting for a transplant – that, plus the fact that his 18-year-old daughter received transplants when she needed them.

I’ve never been in favor of “opt out” conditions. There’s nothing political in my dislike; I just don’t like government legislating the good things that I should or should not do. Government should stay out of my personal decisions.

This is not to say that I’m anti-organ donations. If you look at my driver’s license, I’m identified as an organ donor. NOT because I didn’t “opt out,” but because I wanted to and “opted in.”

If there are not enough people voluntarily donating organs after they’ve died, then do a better job of convincing them to check that box on their driver’s license. Victory is sweeter when it’s earned and not handed on a platter. “Opt in” is infinitely better than “opt out.”

And that’s the way it should be. Always.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wake Me When It’s Over

It must have been a yawner of a speech that President Obama gave at the Kalamazoo Central High School graduation yesterday.

The president was fulfilling a promise to speak to the graduating class whose school won his “Race to the Top” video competition. Thousands of schools across the country participated.

The audience and graduating class were suitably impressed with President Obama’s message. All but one boy, that is. He just dozed off. But y’know, at least he knew when to clap.

Oh well, maybe he stayed up too late celebrating the night before.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Off on a Wrong Foot

Today is the first day of publication for the new Star-Advertiser, the only daily newspaper in Honolulu, created when the Advertiser merged into the Star-Bulletin.
Although it’s sad to see my usual morning newspaper replaced, and to know that among the hundreds of Advertiser and Star-Bulletin employees who lost their jobs are many whom I have known throughout my public relations career, it’s refreshing to realize that time indeed does march on, and that the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.
Now … to reality. I hope it’s not a prelude of things to come, but … there is an egregious grammatical error on Page 3.
Normally, these things slip by, lost in the cacophony of words that crowd the news pages. Unfortunately, this one is up front and in your face, where everybody can see it.
I quote Dennis Francis, Honolulu Star-Advertiser publisher, in his full-page “Aloha” welcoming letter to the newspaper that I will likely be reading with my morning coffee: See it? Even my computer Word program flagged it.

“Our staff of nearly 500 employees have worked hard to bring you the paper you have in your hands.”
“Staff” is a singular noun that requires a singular verb. “Have” is a plural verb. The correct usage should have been “Our staff of nearly 500 employees HAS worked hard …”
Frankly, that’s where I stopped reading his message. Too bad, I’m sure he was sincere and had a lot of good things to say. Unfortunately, he’s lost credibility with me. After all, he DOES run a newspaper and is obligated to re-read and proof everything he writes. So for now, I’ll skip his words. Maybe later.
That being said, I’m happy with the Star-Advertiser. They’re running my favorite comic strip, “Pickles.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

At Long Last!

After years of attempts, poor timing and lack of adequate sunlight, I finally obtained a beautiful shot of a brown anole exposing its brilliant dewlap in a territorial display. It’s a male, of course; female seldom fight or display.

Digital cameras take wonderful pictures. The only problem is there is about a half-second delay between the time I trigger the exposure and the time it actually takes the picture. Most of my “dewlap display” pictures show just half of the dewlap.

This one is the result of at least a dozen and a half exposures. And as I said, I finally got lucky.

The anole lizards are sometimes called “American chameleons” because they have the ability to blend with their environment, but are more closely related to iguanas than chameleons.

We have two varieties in Hawaii – the green anole and the brown anole. We have both on our property. Interestingly, the green ones tend to hang out higher in the plants, and the brown ones would rather stick to the lower branches and the ground areas.

Anoles are thriving in lush Manoa Valley. The original ones were brought in as pets and apparently escaped and bred like the dickens. At any given time, I can go out and count at least three or four crawling around the plants of stone walls.

It’ll probably be another dozen years before I can get a shot as beautiful as this one.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Singing Nurse Sensation

Rod Salaysay is a musician. But he’s also a trauma nurse at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego.

One day, he decided to put his vocation together with his avocation, and began singing to patients in the surgical intensive care unit where the hospital’s most critical patients – many of whom are totally incapacitated – are watched over.

The patients appreciate it as his voice and the messages he delivers in his songs resonate ever in their souls – even patients who were in comas have said they heard him singing, even though they couldn’t respond.

Among the 30+ songs that he’s written are many that have been inspired by his patients.

You can discover more about this Godsend at I did; it’s inspirational.

Friday, June 4, 2010

National Donut Day

It’s on the first Friday of June every year and … hey! That’s today!

Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Super Saver supermarkets (East coast), Donut Connection (with online coupon), Fractured Prune (mostly Maryland), and Lamar Donuts (Midwest) are giving free donuts today (you have to buy a drink), except at Krispy Kreme and Lamar.

Everybody put your computer on “hibernate” and go get a doughnut. You deserve your coffee break today.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dog Sniffing – It’s Important

I was going to say something about New York City’s proposal to make organ donation automatic unless you opt out.

Then, I saw a TV news segment about a San Diego nurse who sings to coma patients, and thought heck, the organ donation thing can wait.

But then, I read an article in today’s morning newspaper about a French hospital that’s been testing a dog’s ability to sniff out prostate cancer.

I immediately shoved the two blog-subject contenders aside. They can grace my blog another day.

Researchers worked with a Belgian Malinois dog at Tenon Hospital in Paris. The dog was tested 66 times and passed 63 tests, sniffing urine and identifying men who had prostate cancer. That’s a 95.4% success rate after a year of training.

Well, you know how my mind works. And today it was wa-a-ay out in left field. The first thing I thought of was the way dogs greet each other – you know, dog sniffing. Then my thoughts wandered to men’s annual prostate examination (“Bend over, please”).

So, the next time you visit a friend’s house and his big ol’ dog rushes up to you and begins smelling your butt, let him. Maybe he’s just checking you out to see if you have prostate cancer.

Beats the doc’s finger any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tighten Your Wad

It’s a scientific fact, discovered by marketing professors at the University of Maryland.

Some of us are less likely to spend a $100 bill than a $50, less likely to break a $50 than a $20, and definitely more likely to spend our $10s, $5s and $1s before handing over a $20 bill.

And if that’s you, then you’re officially a “tightwad.”

However, according to Joydeep Srivastavia, PhD (I just love the first name), once that $20 bill is broken, tightwads spent the smaller bills as freely as any other non-tightwad.

So … if you want to resist temptation, carry a $100 bill instead of four $20s, a $10, a $5, and five $1s.

And you can call me … MR. Tightwad, thank you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Simple Solutions

Problem #1: I read in the paper that prisons across the nation are terribly crowded and that new ones must be built to accommodate the evil-doers. But why spend all that money? I have a simpler solution.

All the authorities have to do is … arrest smaller criminals.

Problem #2: Many times, countries, businesses and people have trouble identifying their enemies. I have a simple solution.

All they have to do is ... have their enemies wear nametags.

Problem #3: Some men have trouble keeping their pants up, so they don’t go swimming for fear that their swim trunks will slide off in the water. Here’s another simple solution.

All they have to do is ... use suspenders.

It makes sense to me …