Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat Treats

Any kids who drop by our house tonight for Halloween trick or treating will get a hot dog and a hamburger.
No, not real burgers and dogs – candy burgers and dogs. The wife came home a week ago with a bagful (60 pieces) of e.frutti gummi sweets, all individually wrapped.
She’s probably going to make up goodie bags to distribute when the kids come knocking. Frankly, I don’t know why she goes to all the trouble every year.
We haven’t had any kids show up for at least a decade and a half.
Sad, huh? Oh well … TRICK OR TREAT!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just Whistle

You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow. – Marie “Slim” Browning (Lauren Bacall) to Harry “Steve” Morgan (Humphrey Bogart), in To Have and Have Not.
Just whistle? You might want to think twice about that if you’re in New York.
The City Council is conducting hearings and is listening to women advocates who say that men regularly follow them, yell and make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable.
It’s not just in the U.S. where men harass women on the streets. A website based in Cairo, Egypt, is going up soon ( where women can report wolf-whistling, jeering and other harassment, including groping and sexual threats.
So … Lauren Bacall may have good advice on HOW to whistle, but if you’re a guy and you see a pretty girl walking by, exercise a little restraint before the Politeness Cops arrest you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fainting a Dué

Do you think cartoonists Bill Keane and Marcus Hamilton ever talk to each other before drawing their Family Circus and Dennis the Menace cartoons respectively?
Or is it just a coincidence that Keane drew Daddy Bil lying on the floor in a fake faint, while Hamilton drew Alice Mitchell in a real faint? (Hamilton, in case you didn’t know, does the drawing for Dennis the Menace these days since originator Hank Ketcham died in 2001).
It’s comparable to two women wearing the same dress to a ritzy soiree.
Can you just imagine the two waking up this morning, picking up the morning paper and perhaps seeing their cartoons juxtaposed as they were in this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser?
I wonder if they fainted.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Final Political Sign Tally

I did my final tally of political signs along my “Home-Manoa” route yesterday, with the following results:
For Governor:
·  Neil Abercrombie & Brian Schatz (D): 5
·  Duke Aiona & Lynn Finnegan (R): 6
The Abercrombie-Schatz team improved from 0 to 5. The Aiona-Finnegan team improved from 3 to 6.
For U.S. Representative, District 1:
·  Colleen Hanabusa (D): 1
·  Charles Djou (R): 8
Colleen Hanabusa improved from 0 to 1. Charles Djou improved from 5 to 8.
The “Craig’s Route” sign-count phenomenon often predicts winners; not always, but more times than not. Thank goodness the voting is next Tuesday. I can’t stand the negative ads that have been running by all of the candidates listed here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meaningful Chalk Art

We saw some chalk art while walking along the ocean walkway at Kakaako Waterfront Park the other day – nothing very fancy like those you sometimes see on city sidewalks, but nice nonetheless.
The central theme was an “Ichthys” (or “Ichthus”), more commonly known as the “sign of the fish,” or the “Jesus fish.”
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. “Ichthus” in Greek is spelled “Iota, CHi, Theta, Upsilon, Sigma” – ICHTUS. The Greek letters compile as “Jesus Christ, God’s son, savior.”
According to Wikipedia:
·  Iota is the first letter of Iesous, the Greek word for “Jesus.”
·  Chi is the first letter of Christos, Greek for “anointed.”
·  Theta is the first letter of Theou, Greek for “God.”
·  Upsilon is the first letter of Uios, Greek for “Son.”
·  Sigma is the first letter of Soter, Greek for “Savior.”
And you thought it was just a child’s drawing of a fish.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Awww … Shaddup Already!

There’s not much I can add to the picture. Maybe it says a thousand words, but there’s only one that I can think of – “Shaddup!”
I wonder what the female said to set the male off. And can’t you just imagine what the male bird is saying? Maybe it’s something like, “Shaddup, already! Not another peep outta you!”
Oh, and I’m not saying the two birds are married. I’m not saying that. And I’m NOT saying the picture reminds me of some conversations I’ve had with the wife.
Nope. I’m not saying that. Nope.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Which Sport Has More Action?

Now that it’s nearly time for the World Series, and now that football season is in full swing, it’s time to put the two sports side by side and do a little comparison.
Some sports fans look at baseball with disdain and decry how little action there actually is in the game: “Baseball is so slow. Nothing happens. Not like football!”
Have you heard that before? I have.
The Wall Street Journal wondered if that were true. So they did a study. Their findings are quite interesting.
They found that actual action at a football game (from the time the ball is hiked or put into play until the whistle blows the play dead) adds up to an average of … are you ready for this? Eleven (11) minutes a game. Eleven minutes out of the three hours or so you spend in your seat at the stadium.
How about baseball? The Journal study showed that there are 14 minutes of action in a baseball game, although the fans sit in their stadium seats about the same length of time as football fans.
I’m just saying …

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ig Nobel Prize Roundup

Over the past few days, I’ve been reporting on winners of the 2010 Ig Nobel Prizes. There were 10 prizes in all, including five that I haven’t written about (there are only so many blog articles in my tiny mental budget).
For the record, here are the winners:
·         Engineering: Whale-snot collecting remote-controlled helicopter
·         Medicine: Asthma on a roller coaster
·         Physics: Socks outside the shoes prevent slipping on ice
·         Public Health: Bearded scientists are germier
·         Peace: Swearing helps relieve pain
·         Economics: Investment firms responsible for economic collapse
·         Transportation Planning: Slime mold determines optimal routes for railroad tracks
·         Chemistry: Disproving that oil and water don’t mix
·         Management: Random promotions boost worker efficiency
·         Biology: (This is my personal favorite) Scientific documentation of fruit bat fellatio
Okay, I gotta say something about the fruit bats. First of all, way t’go, bats! Second, who the hell in his/her right mind is curious about “behind closed doors” sexual foreplay of fruit bats?
What’s next? The Playbat channel? Bat act bars in the sleezy section of town? Live naked bat dancing?
Gimme a break.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements and improbable research that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Even actual Nobel Prize winners participate in the ceremonies.
I kid you not!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Curses! Foiled Again

The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for Peace went to a research team from Keele University in the United Kingdom, who reaffirmed something all of us knew for a fact.
Swearing, they confirmed, does relieve pain. Loud swearing, in fact, does a better job. If you pound your thumb with a hammer, the pain is nearly unbearable. But … if you yell out curses right afterwards, it hurts less. Much less.
Their paper, “Swearing as a Response to Pain,” was published in Neuroreport.
I showed this to the wife, and demonstrated as well. Good grief, I’ve forgotten how bad soap tastes.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements and improbable research that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Even actual Nobel Prize winners participate in the ceremonies.
I kid you not!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Honoring the Obvious

When I learned of these two awards, I almost went into a “Duh” coma. I mean, aren’t these things kind of obvious?
First, New Zealand university people won the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for proving that people lose their grip on icy sidewalks less often if they wear socks over their shoes.
They even wrote a paper about it that was published (imagine that) in the New England Medical Journal: “Preventing Winter Falls: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Novel Intervention.”
Then, three men in the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick, Maryland, won the Ig Nobel Prize in Public Health for proving that microbes cling to bearded scientists.
Their paper: “Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men” (Applied Microbiology).
I bet these two research teams wouldn’t win anything in the Hawaii State Science Fair.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements and improbable research that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Even actual Nobel Prize winners participate in the ceremonies.
I kid you not!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Asthma Roller Coaster

There are those who say suffering asthma is a real roller coaster ride. Well, guess what? A roller coaster ride can indeed help.
Netherlands researchers have won the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery that asthma symptoms can be treated with a roller coaster ride.
They published their findings (“Rollercoaster Asthma: When Positive Emotional Stress Interferes with Dyspnea Perception”) in Behaviour Research and Therapy.
Now that’s creative use of the condition’s ups and downs. Although, can you just imagine telling someone who has trouble breathing that s/he should take a harrowing ride on a roller coaster? Guess one just has to get over the fear, huh?
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements and improbable research that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Even actual Nobel Prize winners participate in the ceremonies.
I kid you not!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whale Snot Gathering

When whales blow, it’s not necessarily just water you see flying into the air. It’s a lotta snot as well.
Members of the London Zoological Society and Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute have been given the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in Engineering for inventing an efficient way to gather whale snot.
Their paper was called A Novel Non-Invasive Tool for Disease Surveillance of Free-Ranging Whales and Its Relevance to Conservation Programs.
They used a remote-controlled helicopter.
And if that’s snot good news, then I don’t know what is!
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements and improbable research that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Even actual Nobel Prize winners participate in the ceremonies.
I kid you not!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yesterday Went Not Exactly as Planned

I had one small errand in mind yesterday morning.
· Me: I have to pick up prescriptions at Costco today.
· The Wife: Why go today? It’s your birthday. Why get aggravated? Go tomorrow.
· Me: I just want to get it over with. I’ll drive there, run in and get the meds since I phoned them in this morning, then come right back home. Should be … oh, 45 minutes at the most.
· The Wife: Okay … Wait … I’m going too.
· Me (apprehensively): Uh, okay. You can wait in the car while I run in.
· The Wife: All right.
· Me: I should get off on Nuuanu and get on Nimitz. The construction I ran into last week might still be there, can’t make a left on Liliha, and might have to make a big circle onto Nuuanu anyway.
· The Wife: It should be clear by now. Take the turnoff and turn left on Liliha as usual.
· Me (apprehensively): Uh, okay.
· Me (about 10 minutes later): See? Can’t turn left. Damn, there’s an ambulance behind us (pulling over to the right side of the now single-laned road). Damn, now I’m stuck behind parked cars.
· The Wife: You gotta get over one lane.
· Me (breathing deeply): Ya think?
· The Wife: Hmmm. Go straight. We can go get some eggs at Ka Lei.
· Me (apprehensively): Uh, okay.
· The Wife (10 minutes later, after we’d bought the eggs): Okay, we can go to Costco now.
· Me (sarcastically): I see you brought the coupon book?
· The Wife: Yep. Since we’re gonna be there already.
· Me: I’ll pick up the meds. You go get started on your coupon list.
· The Wife: Okay … come find me. I’ll be around.
· Me (apprehensively): Uh, okay.
· Me (30 minutes later): Where were you? I walked all over the place twice looking for you.
· The Wife: I was right here.
· Me (noticing the cart was full): You don’t say. Right here, huh?
· The Wife: Yep, okay, I’m done. Let’s go. Oh wait, I need a case of Vitamin Water.
· Me: Okay. Is that all you need now?
· The Wife: Yep, that’s all.
· Me (apprehensively): Uh, okay.
· Me (a half-hour later): Can we go now? The cart is really heavy and my shoulder hurts.
· The Wife: Yep. I’m going outside to get a turkey sandwich for mom.
· Me (15 minutes later): Why are you waiting in line with me? Why didn’t you go outside for the sandwich?
· The Wife: I forgot. Okay, I’m going now. I’ll meet you back at the car. Shouldn’t take long.
· Me (apprehensively): Uh, okay.
· Me (mumbling to myself, 15 minutes later, the purchases packed in the trunk): Shouldn’t take long. Right.
· The Wife (10 minutes after that): They didn’t have turkey, just hot dogs, no blah blah blah blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda yadda.
· Me: Fine. Now stop talking and get in the car so we can go home.
The traffic was bad. We got home a half hour later. Bottom line, it took us two-and-a-half hours to do something I wanted to get done in 45 minutes.
All because I told the wife what I was going to do. I should-a just left quietly.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Political Signs Redux

Since the General Election is a little more than a couple of weeks away, it's time for a survey of election signs along the route from my home to Manoa Marketplace and back.
In the governor’s race, I saw one Neil Abercrombie and three Brian Schatz signs. The Abercrombie-Schatz team is running on the Democratic ticket for the offices of Hawaii governor and lieutenant governor respectively.
But these signs are left-over from the primary, and I’m not counting them, as I was looking for team signs. I mean, we can’t vote for one or the other, we’d have to vote for the team. So they should court our votes as a team. Right? And I saw nary a team sign for the Abercrombie-Schatz ticket.
Republicans James “Duke” Aiona (governor) and Lynn Finnegan (lieutenant governor) however, have got their act together, re lawn signs. I counted three Aiona-Finnegan signs on my drive.
Aiona-Finnegan: 3
Abercrombie-Schatz: 0

Colleen Hanabusa, the Democratic candidate for the First Congressional District seat, has no visible supporters and no signs up along the route. Her Republican opponent, Charles Djou, however, has five.
Djou: 5
Hanabusa: 0

Ms. Hanabusa, by the way, doesn’t live in the district, but says she’ll move here if she’s elected. What’s with that? We’re not good enough to be her neighbors unless she’s elected? For that reason alone, I probably won’t vote for her.
In a weird way, the sign-count phenomenon often is a predictor of who will win elections, at least on my drive to the supermarket. We’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mystery Solved!

Back on December 13 last year, I posted a blog item about a strange-looking car that the wife and I kept seeing on the I-280 freeway on our drives from San Jose to San Francisco.
Despite all kinds of guesses and speculation, no one could come up with a definitive answer to the question: “What is it?”
Mystery solved!
Google, headquartered in Mountain View (near San Jose), has announced it is test-driving a driverless passenger car, and that in fact, it’s been testing it for quite a while now, driving them here and there, to and fro, on California highways – more than 140,000 miles so far.
Although it is designed not to need a driver, someone has been sitting in the driver’s seat up to now, ready to hit the big red “Kill” button in case something goes wrong. But apparently, it’s been a boring job.
Just for nostalgia’s sake, here’s the picture that the wife took last year. See? Do I lie?
- Photo by The Wife

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Aloha, Bobby Cox

I never met Bobby Cox, but I’ve seen him a few times on the baseball diamond when I’d been lucky enough to attend a Major League Baseball game when the Atlanta Braves were playing.
It was always in a ballpark other than Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, or Turner Field. It was, in fact, at San Diego’s Jack Murphy (Qualcomm) Stadium and Petco Park, Dodger Stadium, and Denver’s Mile-High Stadium and Coors Field. And yet, despite being on the “other side,” I wore my Atlanta Braves cap and cheered for “my” team.
I started watching the Braves in 1978 because they were carried by TBS, the superstation owned by Ted Turner, who also owned the Braves, and the station carried all of the Braves’ games. They were horrible that year, finishing last in the division. Bobby Cox came onboard as manager, but that didn’t seem to help. His first four years didn’t pan out; they continued to occupy the cellar.
Joe Torre replaced him in 1982. Of the five managers who followed Bobby Cox, Joe Torre had the most success. Then the manager merry-go-round began, until they brought Bobby back in 1990.
The players changed through the ensuing years, the uniforms changed, the Braves’ positions in the standings changed – boy, did they change. And throughout it all, there was Bobby Cox. Fourteen division titles. From last to first and a World Series appearance in 1991. And finally, a World Series championship in 1995.
He retired from baseball on Monday. Every Braves fan wishes he could have extended his tenure for just a few more games; we hoped for another World Series ring to close out his career. But … c’est la vie, it wasn’t to be.
When the fans and the San Francisco Giants gave him a standing ovation at the close of the division series playoff, I’m not ashamed to say that …
I cried … with pride. Aloha, Bobby Cox. Thank you so very much, from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, October 11, 2010

George Moved Back West

The last time we checked on the whereabouts of the George Washington $1 bill I received in change at my local movie theater, it was reported to be in Wilton, New Hampshire, on August 26.
The “Where’s George $1 Bill”
George has been quite the traveler since then.
Nearly a week later (September 2), he’d traveled 585 miles to Clendenin, West Virginia. A month after that (October 2), he’d gone 175 miles to Dayton. Ohio.
Five days later on October 7 (that’s four days ago), he was all the way back west in California – San Jose, to be precise – slightly wrinkled and 2,036 miles from Dayton.
So, to recap: Since George began his odyssey on November 30, 2008, his $1 bill has traveled 7,838 miles in 310 days, 17 hours, 10 minutes, at an average of 12 miles per day. He has visited Honolulu, Hawaii; Wilton, New Hampshire; Clendenin, West Virginia; Dayton, Ohio; and San Jose, California … that we know of, for who knows how many have received the bill without entering its location at the “Where’s George” website.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Honolulu Orchid Society Annual Show

It was time once again for the Honolulu Orchid Society members to show their stuff and compete in the 71st Annual Orchid Plant and Flower Show.
I truly enjoy taking the wife to these shows. From the moment you walk into the room, your senses are overwhelmed by the sumptuous colors and scents of these magnificent creations – vandas, dendrobiums, cattleyas … you name it, they’re on display.
Vying in the various competitions were the Aiea Orchid Club, Hawaii Kai Orchid Society, Honolulu Orchid Society, Hui Okika O’Kunia and the Windward Orchid Society. Their displays were in the center of the cafetorium at Washington Middle School.
Along the sides of the room were various plant sale participants who sold everything from orchids to cacti, from planting media to tools.
This is good stuff – the orchid shows always are highlights of our year. The show closes tomorrow, so hurry if you want to go (there is a donation jar, otherwise admission is free). Just in case you can’t make it, let me share a few pictures with you:
Aseda 50th State

Cacti for Sale

Enobi Purple Splash (Best Dendrobium in Show)

Plant Sale Vendor

Vanda Fuchs Delight

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lullaby and Good Night

Have you ever gone to a play and started nodding off?
Aw, c’mon. Admit it. It’s happened to the best of us. We rush through our work day, rush to get ready, rush to get there, rush to get seated, plop into our seats … and then our body finally relaxes.
Then, during a dialogue-filled scene, our eyelids droop and we close our eyes for a second (just to rest them, of course), and the next thing you know, your spouse is poking you in the ribs, quietly trying to wake you up.
Embarrassing. Especially if you snore.
Well now … at last there’s a performance where it doesn’t matter if you fall asleep. In fact, you’re encouraged to do so!
The thing is, you have to travel to London. They haven’t gone on tour yet.
The performance, produced by theater company Duckie, is called “Lullaby” (of course!) and will run from June 24 to July 24 in 2011. The Barbican Pit theater will be turned into a giant bedroom. You can choose from singles, double, or even triple beds for a 90-minute show of what they term “soothing storytelling and choral cradle song.”
Eight hours later, you’ll be awakened for breakfast, in time for you to rush off to work.
So pack a toothbrush and a change of clothes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We’re Number One!

Bird, bird, b-bird is the word
Everybody knows that the bird is the word!

Sometimes the legal system protects “expressive” citizens from those nasty police who take affront when they feel someone’s not being very respectful of the law and nice to them.
Did you know that you can legally give cops the “bird” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Olathe, Kansas, without fear of reprisal?
Who said so? The courts did. Not too long ago, Olathe had to settle lawsuits by citizens who flashed their middle fingers at police. The settlements totaled $5,000.
An outrageous amount? Maybe, maybe not. You see, Philadelphia had to make a similar settlement as well. The “City of Brotherly Love” lost lawsuits to the tune of $50,000.
What does this all mean? It means that even if you think people are contemptuous for flipping off the police, that “We’re Number One!” expression is protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment … you know, the one that says: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …”
Not that I would ever do that. Nope. No way. Not me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Intriguing Buildings

I recently received an email with pictures of the Top 33 World’s Strangest Buildings, pictures that intrigued me. So I visited the website they came from:
Some of the buildings are magnificent, some are entirely appropriate to their purpose, some are pretty weird, and some are absolutely beautiful. Here are a few pictures to pique your interest:

You can find the rest at their website. Click on the link in the first paragraph.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Camouflage Expert

I was walking next to the stone wall alongside our driveway yesterday when all of a sudden the rocks moved. It was pretty subtle and literally made me stop in my tracks.
The first thing I thought was that I’d experienced some sort of vertigo. Then I thought that maybe my eyeglasses had shifted. So, just to be sure, I peered at the spot where I thought I’d seen movement.
What to my wondering eyes should appear but a brown anole (Anole sagrei) that practically blended in with its environment.
It’s a good thing I had my camera with me (I’ve taken to keeping it in my pocket whenever I walk around the house because I’ve missed several good pictures due to my lack of a camera). My photo is angled slightly upward so that his bluish belly can be seen. When viewed directly from above, it was very difficult to separate the lizard from the rock.
Even seen from this angle, the top of his head and his snout just disappear from view.
Ain’t nature grand?
P.S. I no longer pick up brown anoles. I’ve discovered they are prone to peeing or pooping on human hands when picked up.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Huge Babies Wanted

Soooo … according to the headline in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, researchers are looking for 1,000 huge babies to study for the next 21 years or so.
Really? No, not really.
But if you are mostly a headline reader and don’t delve deeply into the stories that follow, that’s exactly what the headline says.
The story actually goes on to report that the National Children’s Study will gather data on how the environment and genetics affect children in America. (Say, weren’t they studying environmental/genetic influences when I was in school? I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.)
Anyway, the story clears things up. The headline writer really means that the baby study will be extensive. But “extensive” doesn’t fit in the space allowed.
So I am compelled to make fun of the headline. Hope they find the 1,000 huge babies they’re looking for.
Somebody should send this in to Jay Leno. Be my guest.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beautiful Indonesian Immigrants

There’s a small flock of a half-dozen or so Java Finches (Padda oryzivora) that visits my front yard and our neighbor’s trees.
They’re a bit on the shy side, so close-up photographs are not easy to come by without a strong telephone lens. But every now and then, they get so engrossed in what they’re doing that I can sneak up on them.
That’s what happened recently when they were feeding on the neighbor’s Octopus Tree (aka Umbrella Tree).  Although they were about 20 feet away, my little Sony digital camera did a good job:
Also known as the Java Sparrow or Java Rice Bird, they originated in Indonesia, and were first introduced here in 1867 (Kauai), then reintroduced in the late 1960s.
Java Finches are handsome birds, but they are considered agricultural pests when they flock in large numbers.
They’re also listed as a vulnerable species, close to becoming endangered.