Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Ins and Outs of New Year’s Day

I don’t know whence these traditions emanated, but they’re kind of humorous. They have to do with who should be the first to enter your house on Jan. 1, and what should never leave the house on New Year’s Day.
The Ins
First, there’s a tradition called “First Footing” that has to do with who enters your home after the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1. The most auspicious person should be tall, dark (hair) and handsome. He should come bearing a small gift – a lump of coal, a silver coin, perhaps a sprig of green, maybe some bread. Oh, and he should bring some salt too.
Reject female “first footers.” Reject any blonds, blondes, or redheads. He or she should not be cross-eyed, have flat feet, or even eyebrows that meet in the middle. The article I read said to do this at all costs, even aiming a gun at them to chase them off … at least until a man crosses the threshold.
Don’t let the first footer use a key. He should knock and someone should let him in. Once he’s in and distributed his tokens, he should pass through the house and exit by another door. And, before he arrives, no one should leave the house.
If you want to ensure the right person becomes the first footer, have someone already waiting outside the door until the clock strikes midnight. Then, let him in.
The Outs
Okay, now … on New Year’s Day, no one and nothing (absolutely NOTHING) must leave the house. Got garbage? Leave it inside. Gotta deliver New Year’s gifts? Leave them in the car overnight. Don’t take party empties out to the recycle bin. Do it the next day.
Stuff coming in is okay. Place it in a basket or box outside the door, then on New Year’s Day, pull it in, making sure no part of your body breaks the plane of the threshold.
There are those who say it’s okay to remove something from the house IF something is brought in first.
And that’s the way it’s going to be (or is it?) on Jan. 1, 2012. I kid you not.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Stating the Obvious

Let's all make a pledge for 2012. Let's resolve never to state the obvious.

I bring this up because of what I've heard two popular female Cooking Channel mavens say during their shows.

It's not that I'm not guilty of doing this sometimes, but at least I try to make an effort not to state the obvious. To wit:

"Little by little, the wet ingredients absorb the dry ingredients." – Giada de Laurentis, Everyday Italian, Cooking Channel ... well, DU-U-UH.
“Flour, when it’s raw, has a bit of a raw flavor.” – Giada DeLaurentis, Everyday Italian, Cooking Channel ... well, DOUBLE DU-U-UH.
“All I’ve done is brought a pot of boiling water to the boil.” – Ching-He Huang, Easy Chinese San Francisco, Cooking Channel ... well, DU-U-UH to the nth degree!
Work on it, will you? Thanks! I appreciate it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nap in the Shade

(This is for all of you who are freezing your bunny toes off during the cold, cold winter months.)

A few weeks ago, the wife and I were walking at Magic Island and I came across this beautiful tree just brimming with light-pink flowers. It kind of reminded me of TV cook Paul Deen's head. I'm just saying.

When I framed it in my camera, I happened to notice that over there in the shade to the right, someone was taking a nap. He'd found the perfect spot -- the shadow was going to be there for a while as the sun was moving, off to the left, toward those buildings in the distance.

Gotta say, I was tempted to join him there, but to tell the truth, I don't like to lie on the grass unless I have a blanket to lie on.

My loss.

(But one never knows what's on the ground under a tree, right?)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year Tradition 1

Japanese "Shimakazari"
While you’ve still got time, clean the house. Clean it well.  Mow the lawn and trim the shrubs and other plants. Finally, settle any unfinished business.
Once that’s done, put up a Shimekazari – a Japanese straw ornament that will ward off evil spirits when mounted on your door (and if you’re particularly superstitious, on your cars).
Shimekazari are made of braided rice straw rope and other good-luck items, such as oranges or tangerines.
It should go up by December 28; that’s today, so if you don’t have yours up yet, you’d better hurry. You can remove it on Saturday, January 7, 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Accident Insurance

I spotted this biker and his interesting license plate recently while driving on Tropicana Boulevard in Las Vegas. Just in case you can't read it, it says: "Insured by MAFIA. You Hit Me, We Hit You." And, there are three bullet holes as well.

The message is pretty clear: “You leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone. I have friends, and they have guns.”

The rider was so confident that he kept his suit on and left his helmet off. The only concession he made to cycling were his white socks and running shoes.

I kept my distance; bet lots of others did too.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Me and My Million Bucks

Yah, yah, I know. It's not really mine. But for a few seconds, I could pretend it was.

For years I've passed Binion's Gambling Hall and Casino in downtown Las Vegas and seen their poster offering a personal picture with $1 million in cash. But I've never taken advantage of it, cynically thinking there must be some kind of catch to their offer.

This last trip, I said what the hell and had them take my picture. No catch, except that instead of giving it to you right away, they make you wait a half hour. And that of course means you either have to go out and return, or spend a half hour playing the slots in Binion's.

It was at the start of my little Fremont Street adventure, so I just went across Fremont to the Golden Gate and had breakfast at Dupar's, returning afterwards to claim my photo.

I have to say that the quality of the picture was top shelf. I'm glad I finally succumbed to the experience, and it makes for a good conversation piece. You should do it if you're ever in Las Vegas.

Binion's Gambling Hall, 128 E. Fremont St., Las Vegas 89101, (800) 937-6537 or (702) 382-1600.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Was Santa Claus good to you this year? Was your stocking filled with goodies and joy and delightful things?

Today, I'm not going to bore you with facts, or make your ears tingle with curmudgeony grumbles. Today I'm not going to take you to faraway places, or talk about things I've seen.

Well ... that's not completely true.

Today, I'm just going to show you some pictures I took of the winter display at the Bellagio Hotel's Conservatory in Las Vegas. So just relax and enjoy some delights of the Christmas season.

Floral Holiday Card created with 3,000 cut florals
Entering the Bellagio Conservatory
42-ft. high, 22-ft. diameter Christmas tree -
13,500 LED lights and 1,800 ornaments
Papa Bear (18,000 white carnations)
Winter penguin display

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies!

Last night, I got to eat some homemade Christmas sugar cookies for the first time since ... well, since this time last year.

When we were kids, Mom used to make these all the time - shaped like Christmas trees, ornaments, angels and Santas mostly, and there were even some oddly shaped ones that we kids used to create free form.

They were so good. Nice and crunchy, with a sugar frosting that simply melted in the mouth and performed delightful dances upon the tongue, without any thought about how our dental health was in peril. I mean, who cared?

My sister Karen had some at the family pot-luck buffet at her house last night. Good God, they were as wonderful as the ones I had when I was a child. See, nobody in my immediate family bakes, so poor me, my Christmas dessert plate and afternoon snack packages have been bereft of these for years, yea decades.

But not last night. Last night, I got to munch on some. Ahhhhh, pure bliss.

I don't get to act silly very often, so in preparation for last night, I eschewed the razor for a couple of weeks, and showed up with a little beard.

Trimmed a bit, of course, to tame the neck shag. I'm going to keep it going until after Christmas, so that when my grandson Joey comes to visit, he can have his picture taken with his silly uncle who thinks he's Santa Claus.

I also mounted a red Christmas tree ornament on my cap, just for fun. The wife thought I looked dipsy, and frankly, that's the look I was going for. The intention, of course, was to give those at the gathering something to point to, laugh at, and talk about. All I was doing was creating some small memories for people I truly care about.

The plan is to shave off my beard after (or maybe a day before) my grandson flies back to San Jose with his parents.

Now, I'm sure there are those among you who really don't care about Christmas sugar cookies, or a silly white-bearded guy wearing an ornament on top of his cap. So for you people, I offer a picture of the buffet table with its serving plattersful of yummy food - Hawaii style.

Enjoy your family dinners during this holiday season!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Car Rental: Where Hawaii Ranks 8

You say you’re all packed and ready to spend your Christmas holiday in Hawaii? Great!

You say you got your airline tickets far in advance for you and your family? Great!
You say you’ll be doing your Christmas shopping here so you won’t have the hassle of trying to get presents through airport security? Great!
Did you reserve your rental car far in advance? No? Uh oh.
Then I need to tell you to bring extra money. You see, Honolulu’s average Christmas-time car rental rates this year are the highest in the nation, ‘way ahead of Miami, which placed second in a study by
The average daily rate for a car rented at Honolulu International Airport from Dec. 23 to 28 is $147. That’s a 194% increase over January of this year, when the average daily rate was $50.
Here’s how the top 5 in the nation play out this year:
1.       HONOLULU ($147 a day)
2.       Miami ($111)
3.       New York ($99)
4.       Boston ($70)
5.       New Orleans ($60)
The supply is dwindling too, as most companies have rented all of their cars already. It’s worse on the neighbor islands; there aren’t any cars available.
I kid you not!
The solution? Walk, catch a bus, or catch a cab. Sorry, that’s just the way it is this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Once-Final Table

Benny Binion is remembered in Las Vegas as the guy who made the World Series of Poker famous, and although the tournament is no longer held at Binion's Gambling Hall in downtown Las Vegas, one can still see the famous final table.

At least I think it's the famous final table.

When I entered Binion's from the back entrance, I had to go through the poker tournament room, thereby passing the elevated final table with participant chairs neatly stacked in one corner of the dais. Nothing fancy, no special chairs, just the kind of furniture one would find anywhere.

But there's a kind of aura that surrounds the final table, if indeed that's what it was. It's the one where famous poker players from all over the world face each other down with millions of dollars at stake. It's enough to make one break out in goose bumps.

I broke out in goose bumps. Actually, though, it was because it was COLD outside.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Other Side of the Mot

I love comic strips. They make you look closely at things we normally take for granted - like mots (those pithy sayings that sound so wise).

This comic made me look at the "The early bird gets the worm" aphorism from the worm's point of view, and made me think.

How 'bout you? Does it give you pause?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pretty Good Vegas Deal

I scored a pretty good deal on my recent trip to Las Vegas, one that resulted in substantial savings.
It’s a good thing I went to the Vacations Hawaii office to make my reservation. The night before, I’d tried to book one of their Vegas packages online, but the website told me either to call or to come on down. Since I had planned to be at Ala Moana Center for a haircut anyway, I could contemplate whether I really wanted to go on the trip … as I sat captive in the barber’s chair.
See, booking through Vacations Hawaii can save you money … the packages includes round-trip airfare for a direct HNL-LAS flight on Omni International Airlines with onboard meals, transportation and baggage handling to and from the hotel, five nights at one of the Boyd hotels, and three meals a day.
For an extra $500, I could upgrade to first-class seats – in and of itself not bad; usually one pays that much each way. Plus through the end of the year, there are no baggage fees.
So, I decided to go. If I’d booked it all myself, I would have had to spend at least double what it would have cost me to book with Vacations Hawaii, even with a first-class upgrade.
The nice young lady at the counter suggested I move my trip up by 10 days because there was a sale going on, and my savings would be an additional $300 (almost covering the first-class seat upgrade). I’m no fool. I jump at chances like that.
Of course, I didn’t stay in a top-tier hotel on the Strip. I had my choice of the California, the Fremont, the Orleans, or Main Street Station. I stayed at the California, which is a block from Fremont Street, where all the action is. The restaurants at the California are good; I also could walk across to the Main Street Station in their enclosed walkway and keep out of the cold. The Main Street’s restaurants are not bad either.
It was fun. I hadn’t stayed downtown in at least three years, and I got a chance to re-explore the area.
Now let’s see … when will I go back? We’ll just have to see about that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shiro's Philosophical Saimin

Shiro Matsuo is quite a guy, probably the most famous local saimin proprietor in the history of the state of Hawaii.

Not only does he serve dozens of varieties of the famous noodle soup, he's a poet. Shiro is not a poet laureate, and he certainly has trouble with syntax, meter and rhyme. But behind those words (some of which I'm sure he's made up) lies some deep philosophy.

Take for example, the poem on the left: Dear Hearts, I like a guy who can take it as well as dish it out. / I can't stand a guy who will only poute. / A guy who can't take it, should shut his moute. / Thank you kindly, / This is what it's all about.

See what I mean? Nothing fancy, just his own particular point of view, one I'm sure most of us have thought about at one time or another when we listen to complainers.

It's just something to think about when you're having your bowl of saimin in his shop, surrounded by his framed poetry (he's even got them all in a book that you can pick up at the register for about ten bucks).

And, he doesn't miss a chance, or pause a second to promote his business, or saimin:

Dear Hearts,
Saimin, Saimin,
Anyttime is Saimin Time
Be It Breakfast, Lunch Or Dinner
Or A Snack After Dinner
Its Proven A Winner
At Shiro's "Mistah Saimin Haven"

Yep, his punctuation is lousy, and he should have used "It's" instead of "Its." But you know what? I'll give him a pass on this. It just adds to the charm of his work.

Now, if you've read the ID caption below his photo in the first picture in upper right, you'll see that it was taken in 1942 when he was a 21-year-old buck private in the U.S. Army. He was paid $21 a month and claims the title of Latrine orderly "Champ" (self-proclaimed, of course, due to lack of competition).

Not bad for a young man from Hawaii who weighed 110 pounds "bare ass," and stood 5-4½ in his bare feet.

Go eat some saimin, Shiro's Saimin Haven is at 98-020 Kamehameha Highway in Aiea, phone (808) 488-8824.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Taking Christmas Off the Shelf

I was a little late doing it this year, but last night, I finally took my three must-see Christmas DVDs down from the shelf and watched them.

It's become tradition with me, as you probably hear me say every year. Somehow, they seem to awaken the Christmas Spirit hidden deep inside. 
My annual transformation always begins with Mannheim Steamroller's 1977 "Christmas Live" concert performed in Omaha, Nebraska.
Their beautiful music mixes traditional instrument and style with electric instruments and large-screen video presented before a live audience. The music is deep, rich and full, and always perfectly synchronized. 
Immediately after, I watch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” featuring the soul-stirring, hard-electric guitars that present a story of a young girl yearning to be back home on Christmas Eve.
Performances by Michael Crawford, Jewel, Allie Sheridan as the girl, and Ossie Davis as the theater caretaker always bring a lump in my throat.
Finally, I watch Santa Claus: The Movie, released in 1985 and starring David Huddleston as the kindly old toy carver who is destined to bring joy to all the children of the world, Dudley Moore as his right-hand elf, John Lithgow as the mean toy company tycoon, and Burgess Meredith in a cameo as The Ancient Elf.
Santa Claus: The Movie tells us in its first half how the Santa legend came to be, and when Santa and his reindeer fly for the first time ever, I always find myself wiping the tears from my eyes.
Ah, the magic of Christmas!
Why did I wait so long this year? Can't really say for sure, but if I had to venture a guess, maybe it's because I'm more into the season this year. After all, I didn't grumble as much this year about getting and decorating a tree, did I?
Maybe I'm growing up again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

No Grillin’ Tonight

At the Fry’s Electronics parking lot in Las Vegas, next to Town Square, one can find every sort of car imaginable. It matters not what a person’s social or financial status is, everybody is into electronics these days.
They even sell cooking appliances there.
But I bet whoever owns this car didn’t go there to buy a grill. Not an automobile grill anyway. Unless someone sold him a bill of goods or maybe misunderstood what he was actually looking for.
At any rate, I bet he didn’t do any grilling that night. Which would have been the sensible thing to do; the Las Vegas temperatures dipped into the low 30s when I was there and took this picture.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 10 Future Best Jobs

Finding interesting reading material in a doctor's waiting room can be frustrating. When I take the wife to the neurologist's office, the only things available to read are brain and mental health magazines (mine are fine, so I don't have to read about them).

More likely than not, the magazines are at least a year old. Actually, sometimes that's not always a bad thing, especially when the magazines aren't timely in nature, with information that's rather ageless.

A long time ago, I used to subscribe to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. I don't any longer, so it's a treat to read them in the doctor's office.

Recently, I came across an article in Popular Science listing their selections for the 10 best jobs in the future. Veddy interest-making indeed (to paraphrase Arte Johnson in Laugh-In). Here they are, in no particular order: 
  1. Human/Robot Interaction Specialist (helping robots and people get along)
  2. Space Pilot (flying shuttles into space)
  3. Organ Designer (making human organs from scratch)
  4. Animal-Migration Engineer
  5. Fetus Healer (curing health problems before birth)
  6. Forcaster of Everything (analyzing data to predict the future)
  7. Fusion Worker (managing fusion reactors)
  8. World Watcher (keeping track via satellites)
  9. Galactic Architect (building cosmic outposts)
  10. Thought Hacker (reading thoughts)
Feel like going back to school now?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Occupy Shmoccupy

It's pretty pathetic. Occupy Honolulu, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy International movement, has set up "homeless-style" tents in Thomas Square, at the corner of Beretania Street and Ward Avenue.

The City of Honolulu has refused to let them remain in the park after 10 p.m., and they're trying to get petitions that would allow them to stay.

They stress that they are the 99% who are taking the stand against the 1%. I doubt that very much. I try not to be a political person, I try to remain impassionate and present a non-biased point of view.

But you know what? They certainly do not represent the 99%; if they did, they would have the other 98% on their side and wouldn't have to ask for monetary donations to sustain the movement.

I think they are the 1% who are taking the stand against the 99%.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Palazzo Atrium Winter Display

The last time I showed you the atrium display at the Palazzo Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, it was their fall extravaganza. The other day, I went again, because I knew they would have changed it.

And yes, they did. They put up a gorgeous winter display to show off their waterfall and reflecting pool.

I could stand before you and describe it until your ears start humming and your eyes fall out of their sockets from boredom, but I won’t.

I’ll just show you some pictures. Wouldn’t that be better?

Nice, yah? Can't wait to see what they do for the New Year. I plan to be back.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mini Museum Crawl

Every time I think I’ve seen everything there is to see in Las Vegas, something pops up that’s been there for quite some time and yet has escaped my notice.

When I was flying over from Honolulu, a page in the inflight magazine caught my attention. They were talking about how the Nevada State Museum had moved in October into the Springs Preserve area of Las Vegas. Hey! I didn’t know that … I thought they were still in their old location.

Naturally, I planned a trip there. Unfortunately, my planning was a bit on the “hurry up” side of things and all I wrote on a piece of paper with the new address was: Take Valley View to Bonanza Road, turn right, then head toward Twin Lakes, turn left on Twin Lakes and it’s right there.

Hah! Easier said than done. As I was heading out, I saw Bonanza Road ahead of me, and figuring it was shorter to just turn right on Bonanza and find Twin Lakes, that’s what I did. Only I made a major boo-boo. I was on East Bonanza and had to get on West Bonanza. I drove and drove and drove and drove. Then I drove some more until Bonanza ended near some humongous church.

All I can say is thank God for the GPS on my smart phone. I turned it on (as I should have done in the first place) programmed in the address, and let the nice lady voice tell me how to get there. I was so ‘way off that it took me a half-hour to find the museum (it’s right next to The Meadows Mall, in case you think you’d like to find it yourself).

Serendipity! Not only is the Nevada State Museum there, the whole area is called Springs Preserve and there are a couple of museums and activity centers there. Admission to everything is less than $20 (senior price), and I swear a family can spend the entire day there.

Me? I had other places to go to, so I just did the Origen Museum (which had an interesting exhibit on animal poop, the whole scoop, and life in the desert (humans, reptiles and mammals) and the State Museum with its huge mammoth fossil skeleton that begins a timeline that slowly brings you up to the era of neon and glitter.

I’ll do longer posts on the museums at another time, but for now, I thought you’d like to see a couple of shots from each:

Entrance to Origen Museum

Origen Craft Area

The Nevada State Museum

Prehistoric Fossils on display

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Fremont Experience

Since I'm staying in downtown Las Vegas this trip, most of my meals will be in and around Fremont Street, which is now called The Fremont Experience, what with the overhead light show, a zip line ride, and the generally festive atmosphere.

Christmas time is particularly jolly on Fremont, tourists from all over the world are having fun, many of whom have had too much to drink. In that sense, it kind of reminds one of Bourbon Street in New Orleans ... nah, I take that back. Bourbon Street is dingy and dark, Fremont is brightly lit and the casinos echo the loud live music emanating from various stages.

There's a live Santa sitting next to a humongous Christmas tree, talking to kids on his knee, and women too - they wait in line to sit on his knee ... this IS Las Vegas, after all.

The Fremont Experience (well a small part of it, anyway)
On Friday night, I had dinner at Don B's Steakhouse, 2nd floor in the Fitzgerald Casino. The food wasn't bad ... but the expensive lobster tail was a bit too small. Be that as it may, I enjoyed it.

What I enjoyed more was the sight that greeted me when I finished my dinner and left the casino. There on Fremont were a couple of hundred men and women dressed up like Santa and his helpers, elves, and even a Christmas tree. Since my Sony Cyber-shot also has a movie camera feature, I turned it on and wandered about, panning, zooming, filming.

It's amazing how cooperative the Santas were. I asked one particularly good-looking cute young lady what this was all about and she told me it's a traditional thing ... a mob pub crawl, kind of like a flash mob, but more holiday-ish, and why don't I get a suit and join in. Er ... maybe some other time.

I call this a Kris Mingle (like "Kringle" ... get it?)
Hmmm, I wonder if they're going to do it again tonight?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Gift Fair for Cowpokes

Looks like a Levi's convention to me

I had planned to attend this today; I just hadn’t planned to do it so early.

As you may recall, I didn’t get a chance to see the cowboys in action at the Wrangler Championship Rodeo – at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Arena – yesterday because I was unwilling to buy a mad-dash ticket.

And that’s why I hit the Cowboy Christmas Gift Fair early. And as luck may have it, the Fates stepped in. Almost as soon as I entered the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, somebody pulled out only two row s from the crosswalk, and one space from the end. Yeehaw!

Jeeze Louise … every cowboy and cowboy wanna-be, every cowgirl and cowgirl wanna-be, every significant other and all their kids were jamming into the hall. I saw more blue jeans than a Levis convention, I saw more cowboy hats than a Western movie, and I heard more country-western music than I ever have in my life.

You know what whopped my jaws? The young girls. They were getting silly over who was scheduled to give autographs. I mean, I never heard of these people. They may be stars, but not to me. And whenever a new song came blaring out over the speakers, those young girls were singing away at the top of their lungs.

It kind of reminded me of when I went to the movie, Grease, and sat behind some junior high girls. It was eerie. When the characters started singing on-screen, there was this faint background singing in the theater … the young girls. That’s kind of what it was like in the big hall.

Talk about western stuff. There were hats, boots, belts, saddles, horse statues, Indian garb, knives, rifles, tee-shirts, socks, hankies, fur jackets for men, fur jackets for women, fur jackets for their kids, leather steering wheel covers, hardware belts, fishing rods and reels, lures and creels, salsa by the jar, longhorn heads, bison heads, wolf fur, stuffed birds, stuffed wildcats, teepees, beef jerky, sheep jerky, what looked like mule jerky, snakeskin holsters, lariats, bullwhips, spurs going jingle-jangle-jingle, ladies with big hair and kerchiefs, girls with big hair and kerchiefs … ah lordie, it was a cowboy paradise.

I almost expected Roy Rogers and Gene Autry to materialize out of thin air whenever I turned a corner. And if you don’t know who they are, then … then … get out of my face, ya young whipper-snapper.

Gotta say, I felt a little out of it – didn’t know anything or anybody cowboy or country-western related. But as Burt Reynolds told Sally Field in Smokey and the Bandit, I guess how stupid you are depends on what part of the country you’re from.

I can take some solace from that wise observation. It ain’t my fault that I felt stupid.

How ‘bout a few pictures of some cowboy-related stuff:

American Indian stuff, plus stuffed stuff

Bison and Texas Longhorn heads

Looks like wolf fur to me

Cowboy hats on a rack and in stacks

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yeehaw Day Was Not To Be

When I stepped off the plane last night at McCarren International Airport, I already had plans for today. An article in the inflight magazine noted that the rodeo was back in town. They were in Las Vegas the last time I was here back in October, but I didn't have time to go.

The last time I was at a real rootin' tootin' rodeo was back in the late '60s when a bunch of us college kids went to one at the Rose Bowl. All I remember about that one was that the participants looked not so big ... we were pretty high up. There was one moment of excitement when one of the ancilliary performers was doing stunts and fell pretty hard. They had to carry him off.

As soon as I could, I drove over to the University of Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center to see if I could get in. They'd been here since the start of the week and were winding it up tonight and tomorrow.

First problem - parking. I had to walk about a quarter mile across a vast and empty parking lot to get to the ticket office. Then the bad news. They were sold out for the rest of the event.

I could, however, buy a "mad dash" ticket that would enable me to stand around and make a mad dash to an empty seat if there was no one there. The problem of course is the real occupants might arrive and kick me out. But the bigger problem was that there going to be a lot of mad dashers trying to block me out of a seat. Kind of like musical chairs on cowboy steroids.

So I said gosh darn it, ma'am in my best cowboy polite talk, tipped my hat and thank you kindly but that's not my style.

Know what I did then? I did the next best thing and joined all the other cowboys in town at the Cowboy Christmas Fair, raht thar, smacky dab in the new-fangled Las Vegas Convention Center thangie on Paradise Road.

I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Le-e-e-eaving on a Jet Plane

Heading out to Sin City this afternoon - Las Vegas, that is.

I'll be there through Tuesday night, Dec. 13, so my Wandering blog posts will be a bit spotty (obviously that means I'm taking my laptop with me this time).

Hey, I know I was there in late October, but what the heck, I found a good deal with Vacations Hawaii (with first-class airfare and no baggage fees, including a room and meals at the California Hotel).

Therefore ... Las Vegas, here I come. Cya there.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Only One Thing, She Promised

Yesterday was one of those "I gotta pick up prescription meds at Costco" days, and as usual, my plan was to drive there, run in and pick up the prescription order I'd called in the day before.

Zip there, zip in, zip out, zip home.

Stupid me, I made the mistake of telling the wife what I was planning to do. She glommed onto me like a flea on a dog and before I knew it, we were both in the car headed to Costco. The new plan was for her to drop me off, find parking, and come find me.

Our conversation just as we got there:

Wife: I need to get one thing, only one thing, for dinner.
Me (naively): Okies, I'll get a wagon and you can find me.
Wife: Right (grinning evily).
Me (ten minutes later): . o ( Got the meds, I'll go wait in the DVD/Blu-Ray aisle. )
Wife: I'm here. Let's go get dinner. But first, let's get a couple of cases of Sunny-D.
Me (loading the cart): Okay.
Wife: Maybe I should get some crispy one ton chips to take to the neighbors for Christmas.
Me (loading the cart): Okay.
Wife: There are only two ribs packs there.
Me: They're fine. I'll get one.
Wife: Okay. How about those stuffed portabello mushrooms?
Me: (loading the cart): Okay.
Wife: I'll get a couple of flank steaks for dinner another time.
Me: (loading the cart): Okay.
Wife: Go pay for this, I need to go outside and buy a chicken wrap for mom.
Me: Okay.

The upshot? We spent $140. More than "just one thing for dinner." That would have been the spare ribs for $18.


More than 'Just One Thing for Dinner'
The moral of the story? There ain't no such thing as "Only one more thing." When will I ever learn?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Well, It's About Time

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, I bought a new computer at Best Buy (Dell Inspiron All-in-One with a 23-inch touchscreen, 4 GB memory, and 500 GB hard disk) - plenty big and fast enough for what I do.

I also paid for their Geek Squad set-up and restore service, so I could at least cut down on some installation work. The software included Word Office, and Trend Titanium Anti-Virus. They asked for my mobile phone number and said they'd call me when it was ready.

I am here to tell you that I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally yesterday morning, I got a message on my phone saying the computer was ready for pickup, and that in fact, it had been ready for some time. That bothered me more than just a little, so I told the nice girl at the pick-up desk (a geek expert, I presume) that if I were called when it WAS ready, I could have had it up and running by now and could have been playing with it all this time.

She did apologize profusely, and agreed that the two-week wait was very inconvenient and unacceptable, and certainly atypical. And she promised to make an issue of it with the person or persons responsible. Fine and dandy, but I was tempted to demand some kind of remuneration - a discount or gift card, perhaps.

But I didn't, because I'm such a nice guy, and in the general scheme of things, I have my new computer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Where Hawaii Ranks 7

Are we at the top of a good list? Or are we at the top of a bad list. No matter. It’s just interesting to find out where Hawaii or Honolulu rank in the general and specific scheme of things.
Average Monthly Rent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010)
1.       HAWAII ($1,291)
2.       District of Columbia ($1,198)
3.       California ($1,163)
4.       Maryland ($1,131)
5.       New Jersey ($1,114) 

Grandparents Responsible for Grandkids (U.S. Census Bureau 2010) 

1.       HAWAII (23.0%)
2.       New Jersey (26.5%)
3.       California (27.1%)
4.       Massachusetts (27.7%)
5.       New York (30.2%) 

Lowest 2011 Second Quarter Personal Income Growth (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2011) 

1.       Washington (0.7%)
2.       Georgia (0.7%)
3.       HAWAII (0.9%)
4.       New York (0.9%)
5.       Delaware (0.9%) 

Happiest States (Gallup-Healthways, 2011) 

1.       HAWAII (71 out of 100 points)
2.       Wyoming (69.2)
3.       North Dakota (68.4)
4.       Alaska (68.3)
5.       Colorado and Minnesota (68.0) 

Best U.S. Beach (Dr. Beach, 2011) 

1.       Siesta Beach (Sarasota, FL)
2.       Coronado Beach (San Diego, CA)
4.       Main Beach (East Hampton, NY)
5.       Cape Hatteras (Outer Banks, NC)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

O Tannenbaum Update

You may be happy (or like me, relieved) to learn that the wife found the two boxes of Christmas ornaments that she'd stored away so well last year and that I reported lost forever a couple of days ago. Turns out they were hiding behind a huge bag of stuff in the garage storage room.

Of course, we'd already purchased some new bulbs and stuff, so I imposed my will and declared that it didn't matter if we found the old stuff, we were going to use the new stuff and dispose of the old. Y'know, make the much-needed change.

Except for the old skirt - we kept that. And the Santa tree topper - we kept that also. And, of course, we're keeping the gift ornaments as well.

We didn't have enough lights, however, but instead of attaching last year's strings to this year's new LED light strings, I'm going to trash the old ones.

The wife volunteered to go back to the store and get more, however. See, I had let her talk me into buying only 100 lights, Against my better judgement. I should have known better, she has no concept of measurement (time, volume, length, etc.). So she went back for more.

She also likes the star topper. It changes color, and frankly, it looks pretty good. We'll keep Mr. Antique Santa in his box this year, at least for now. I have other plans for him.

So ... we're all set for this year. Now all I have to do is wrap up the presents and we're all ready. Congratulate me, I made it through another furshluginer raising of the tannenbaum.