Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reptile Party

So, I asked myself, what's a kids reptile party? Do the kids grow scales when they get there? Are they taught how to hunt insects and grubs when they're small, then are weaned over to red meat when they get big?
Or, do they just learn how to be reptiles? Or, are they given little lizard and alligator suits and sent out to terrorize the neighborhood?
And lookit the sign posted on a Los Gatos telephone pole ... they do stuff with schools and summer programs as well. These reptile people, they sure know how to insinuate themselves into our kiddy society, don't they?
Oh, get off my back. I know what a kid reptile party is. Can't an old curmudgeon have a little fun with it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fanciful Fungi

The wife and I spent some time at the Ferry Building Marketplace, located near Pier 1 on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. I've always enjoyed wandering around both in and out of the building, especially on Tuesdays,Thursdays and Saturdays.

It hasn't changed much in the several years I've been visiting, and one of the stores I always stop at is the Far West Fungi and Wild Forest Products shop.

They had a weird-looking bunch of live Tree Oyster Mushrooms on display today.

Fungi Store Front

Some of the Strange Mushrooms Offered

Tree Oyster Mushrooms
If you've never been there, don't forget to visit the next time you're in San Francisco.

And if you're lucky, valet parking in front of the building will be available. If not, go to the Ace Parking Lot just down the street. And don't forget to get your ticket validated if you make a purchase in the Ferry Buildng Marketplace.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Almaden Winery Park

Almaden Winery Park, the neighborhood gathering place near my son's San Jose home, looks different in the spring. The last time we were here, it was winter, so the rose bushes were bare, the grass was brown, and the air was chilly.

This week, everything is green and colorful. I love it!

A dandelion before the wind blew it apart

Pale gray evergreen weeps for me

Don't know what this is, but it's nice!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Hollow Park

We had a good day yesterday in San Jose, spending it with family and enjoying a nice afternoon at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, watching our grandson playing and enjoying the kiddy rides.

I was able to replenish my supply of Pinchy the Monkey travel photos (link in the right column of this blog), and was particularly interested in the children's petting zoo (it's fun to see kids interacting with the animals). Here are a few pictures: 

Red-Sided Eclectus Parrot

A Wooly Sheep with a Very Sheepish Look
Bronzed Barn Owl Doo-Doo!

A Zebu Butt (Yep, a Rear View)
 And with that, all I can say is ... THE END!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Green Tea Has Good Stuff

By now, everybody knows that green tea is good for you if you ignore the caffeine thing, because it has lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.

The thing is, I betcha people are more into convenience and instead of brewing their own tea, buy it already processed and cold in bottles. That’s okay if you buy it primarily as a good-tasting beverage that’s been sweetened.

But the thing is, freshly brewed is better for you. When you brew green tea for yourself, each cup contains from 50 to 150 milligrams of polyphenols (the good stuff). If you drink the bottled stuff, each serving has less than 10 milligrams. Consequently, you’ll need to drink five to 20 bottles to match the amount of polyphenols in freshly brewed green tea.

Me? I drink it both ways. I like the cool convenience, plus I like the warmth it can give one as well. Green tea … it’s good stuff.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recycled Art

I flew into San Francisco International Airport at the
un-Godly hour of 4:50 a.m. today and was lucky I didn’t fall all over my feet and tumble into a trash bin, I was so sleepy.
One thing saved me. SFO usually has some great displays in its concourse – the latest one is an exhibit of art created from recycled materials.
The display is called “Second Chances” … something that I would have needed if I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Here are a couple of the displays: 

Nice exhibition of creative hands, heart and mind. Yes indeed. Sure beats falling into a trash can.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What is Reading?

What do you consider reading? Sitting down with a good book? Relaxing on the living room couch with your morning newspaper and a steaming hot cup of coffee? Or maybe it’s the Sunday comics, or a favorite magazine, or perhaps something you’ve found in your research on the computer?
Probably … all of the above, and more.

I bet you never thought of texting. But kids 9-17 do. According to Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report, one-fourth (25%) of the kids they talked to say texting back and forth with friends counts as reading. (OMG! RTSS NNWW)
How about social networking postings or comments (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, MySpace)? Even more kids (28%) consider THAT reading.

More than half consider looking for information online reading (55%). I can live with that.
The good news is, nearly 4 out of 10 said texting, social network posting/commenting, and online research are NOT considered reading.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kiddy Combo Calories

It’s been calculated that kids should consume only about 1,300 calories a day if you want them to maintain good nutritional health. Divide that by three meals a day, and you arrive at about 430 calories per meal.

Now … I know the fast food “restaurants” entice us with kiddy combination meals – all-in-one packages that taste good and make for happy children. But did you know that just one happy mean can deliver almost as many calories in one meal as kids should consume all day?
Here’s a guide as to how the popular fast-food kiddy meals stack up (ranked by the percentage of kids’ menu meals that exceed the 430-calorie limit):
  1. Taco Bell – 100%
  2. KFC – 100%
  3. McDonald’s – 93%
  4. Wendy’s – 93%
  5. Burger King – 92%
  6. Subway – 33%
Choose wisely and eschew kiddy meals, unless it’s to be the only meal of the kid’s day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where Hawaii Ranks 3

Here we go again. I’ve seen a few more lists of where Hawaii ranks in various areas, compared to the rest of the nation and (sometimes) the world.

Best Overall Health (United Health Foundation, 2010)
  1. Vermont
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Connecticut
Lowest Unemployment (Brookings Institution, 2010)
  1. Omaha, Nebraska
  2. Madison, Wisconsin
  4. Portland, Maine
  5. Washington, D.C.
Most Bank Card Debt (Experian, 2010)
  1. San Antonio, Texas ($5,177 ave. balance)
  2. Jacksonville, Florida ($5,115)
  3. Atlanta, Georgia ($4,960)
  4. HONOLULU, HAWAII ($4,939)
  5. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas ($4,936)
Most Sleep Deprived (Centers for Disease Control, 2010)
  1. HAWAII (44.6%, < 7 hr/24 hrs)
  2. New York (40.7%)
  3. Maryland (39.9%)
  4. Georgia (36.9%)
  5. Illinois (36.1%)
Highest Solar Use (Solar Energy Industry Association, 2010)
  1. HAWAII (10.8 watts per capita)
  2. New Jersey (6.6)
  3. California (5.7)
  4. Colorado (4.3)
  5. Arizona (3.5)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Japan Tsunami Videos

Tsunami Video Capture
Watching the Earth react to an underwater paroxysm as it sends the ocean inland is both horrifying and mesmerizing. These videos, the latest that I’ve seen of the Japan tsunami, will both fascinate and terrify you.

In this first video, the sea surface slowly rises until everything in the beginning of the video is totally destroyed – cars, buildings, boats … everything.

Watch how the tsunami begins with a small stream just this side of the highway, then grows and grows and grows until the entire valley is inundated.

In this next one, you can hear the people on the hill yelling, “Hayaku! Hayaku!” which is “Hurry up! Hurry up!” in Japanese. This is one of the more emotional clips that I’ve seen because you can actually see people trying to stay ahead of the approaching tsunami.

Sorry if the videos upset you. But if they did, maybe they’ll motivate you to make a donation to the American Red Cross’s Japan disaster relief fund:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to Waste Time

I forget what magazine I was reading, but one day while waiting in a doctor’s waiting room, I saw an article on how to waste time on the Internet.

Being the consummate time-waster, I took some notes, but for some reason failed to remember what publication I had in my hands.
Anyway, instead of wasting time trying to remember, here are six ways to waste time on the Internet:
  1. Make drip art at
  2. Watch homemade foreign videos you don’t understand at
  3. Check out how people misuse quotation marks at
  4. Follow your money on its travels at (I have one in the stream if you’ll recall).
  5. Watch Presidents morph from George Washington to Barack Obama at Search for “presidents morph.”
  6. Watch balls drop and ping, altering their course with barriers you draw at
Don’t tell ME I’m not full of informative suggestions!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Love a Rainy Day

Rainy days make me feel clean. Growing up in Hilo, we got used to the rain, which would sometimes continue nonstop for up to a week. Humid? We never felt it; we were used to it.
Los Angeles was a different story. There, rain was a welcome luxury that happened only infrequently. I’ve always likened Los Angeles after a big rain like a toilet that’s been flushed. Everything dusty and dirty has been washed away and it’s all nothing but clean once again.

Having missed frequent rainfalls while living in Los Angeles, I truly appreciate rain now that we live in Honolulu. To me, there’s nothing like sitting under shelter and watching the rain fall, dripping off of trees and plants, the drain water bubbling along the ground, sweeping away whatever lay in the driveway. It’s pretty righteous to me.
Watching rainfall is like watching fish in an aquarium; it’s mesmerizing and difficult to pry one’s eyes away from the spectacle.

Even the doves know better than to venture out. They just perch on the lower framework of our lawn chairs, fluff up their feathers, cozy up to each other, and ride out the rain.

I love a rainy day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Las Vegas Aviation Museum

In my travels, I’ve been fortunate to view some outstanding museum-quality displays in airports. The one that comes immediately to mind is San Francisco International (SFO) with its always-changing offerings of things historic.
At McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas recently, I viewed the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum on the check-in concourse level, with some pretty neat artifacts and historical information to keep you busy while waiting for an arriving passenger or just to kill some time before heading out to your gate.
Of particular interest is a bright red 1956 Thunderbird that’s on display:

It’s actually a crash wagon that was used from 1957 to 1968 at McCarran. The Alamo Airways vehicle was owned by George Crockett, who had founded Alamo Airport in 1941; Alamo’s name was changed to McCarran in 1948 to honor U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran.
Well okay … it’s not the original car. This is a restored 1956 Thunderbird and is an exact reproduction of the original car.
Still, it’s a beauty, isn’t it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fattest Countries

Be honest now. Do you think the United States is the fattest country in the world? Based on all the current talk about child obesity, one might think so.
Well, it’s not true. The country with the highest percentage of overweight people is … wait for it … Saudi Arabia, where 73% of the population is overweight. And the country with the highest percentage of obese people is the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, where 79% of its people are obese.
Here’s the complete rundown:
Most Overweight:
  1. Saudi Arabia, 73%
  2. Germany, and UK/Northern Ireland, tied at 67%
  3. United States, 66%
  4. Kuwait, 64%
  5. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 63%
  6. Israel, 62%
Most Obese:
  1. Nauru: 79%
  2. Tonga, 56%
  3. French Polynesia, 41%
  4. Saudi Arabia 36%
  5. United Arab Emirates, and United States, tied at 34%
  6. Bahrain, and Kuwait, tied at 29%
Just thought you’d like to know.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fawning Fledgling

Kid Dove and Mama
Among the dozen or so zebra doves that join me for a mid-day snack during my reading time is a young fledgling.
It obviously had left the nest recently because it was always fawning around one of the older birds, which I presume is its mother. In addition to kowtowing, it signals with a “weeee weeee” peep that I take to mean something like, “I’m hungry! Feed me! Feed me!”
The mother and child usually come walking up the driveway, the baby’s left wing thrown over the back of its mommy as it tries to keep up with her.
At first she used to feed him (you know, the “open the mouth and let the kid suck up my vomit” routine), but lately she just ignores the baby and walks away, leaving the baby to peck away at the ground for itself. However, being the runt of the bunch, it gets bullied by the others and even pecked at by the spotted doves.
Growing up is tough out there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Wormy Lunch

The other day, the wife was pulling clumps of weeds that were growing around the stone wall next to our driveway turn-around. Of course, I paid no attention to what she was doing, because I was engrossed in reading a new book on my Kindle.
However, when I heard her saying, “Shoo! Shoo! Go away!” well that grabbed my attention.
What she was doing was chasing away several brown anole lizards that were zeroing in on her position. It seems that in the clumps of dirt that came away with the weeds were lots of little worms that were now squirming on the gravel ground. And the sharp eyes of the anoles caught the movement.
The wife didn’t want them to eat the worms, obviously displaying her prejudices against those awful, scaly lizards and siding with the helpless worms.
She wasn’t too appreciative when I told her that lizards don’t understand English and that I can get her a lizard dictionary if she wanted to communicate with them. So she kept on shooing them away.
That’s when I grabbed my camera and asked her to step aside so I could take pictures of nature at work. I mean, how often does one get an opportunity to shoot lizards munching worms in one’s driveway?
The anoles were happy, I was happy, and even the wife had to admit it was kind of cool … even if she changed her expression from “Shoo!” to “Eww!”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Uh Oh, Pomelo!

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I stopped by Trader Joe’s on Decatur … which in itself isn’t anything new to visitors from Hawaii. Trader Joe’s has become a staple omiyage (oh-me-yah-gay) source for us islanders.
I was interested in the pomelo (which we call jabon) that they had displayed. Unlike the ones that grow in our back yard, these were small, about the size of a softball. The ones from our yard are more the size of a soccer ball.
The price seemed reasonable enough -- $1.49 per fruit. I’ve seen some at Shirokiya (Ala Moana Center) that sold for as mych as $10 apiece, but maybe that’s because they were brought in from Japan?
They call it “pummelo” at Trader Joe’s, but I’ve also seen “pommelo” used elsewhere.
I wonder if these had white or pink flesh? Ours are pink … much sweeter.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Losing Battle

Maintaining a lush, green lawn is impossible at our house. There are weeds galore that have no problem making a home here.
No matter how much you dig and pull and clean out an area the size of Delaware, the weeds come back. I’m not talking crab grass, I’m talking … well, I have no idea what kind of plants they are that have found a permanent home in our yard.
In an effort to clear out the intruders, we invested in a couple of gallons of Roundup Weed & Grass Killer. It did what the name says … it killed the weed and the grass. So for a long while, we had to make do with a huge patch of bare dirt while waiting for the grass to grow back in from the edges.
Guess what? Only the weeds have returned. And again, I have no idea what kind they are. Oh, I take that back. Recently a flock of three-leaf clovers have taken up residence – those I can identify.
I guess I need to crawl around on my hands and knees searching for a four-leaf clover in the bunch.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Meet … Cleopatra

Cleo the Dove
When the morning contingent of Zebra Doves comes swarming to the breakfast table, they are inevitably joined by a few larger doves – Spotted Doves (Spilopelia chinensis, aka “Spotted Turtle Doves”), so called because of the bandana of spots they sport on the neck.
These are more regal in appearance, quite unlike the cuddly Zebras.
One in particular is always the first to arrive. I call her “Cleopatra” because of what appears to be eye makeup similar to what you see in Egyptian art. Plus, she’s the queenly one of the bunch, often chastising the other Spotteds and chasing them away from her pecking grounds.
Even the Zebras have taken to staying out of her way.
Once I saw her grab hold of another Spotted’s tail, not letting go until she had pulled two feathers out and left them scooting over the asphalt with each passing breeze.
She doesn’t come too close to me, however, not like the Zebras who often surround my seat. None of the Spotteds does … they’re shyer than the Zebras.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Babies ‘n Baseball

Let me amend that … I should have said “Buns in the Oven and Baseball.”
The Class A affiliate of the New York Mets – the Brooklyn Cyclones – had a better name for it. They sponsored a “Bellies and Baseball” night at one of their games, during which the team saluted women who were pregnant.
If you had a bun in the oven, you and your fellow-pregnantees could throw out the first pitch and then run the bases. Did you have a craving during the game? Then you could head over to the Cravings Concession Stand and gorge on anchovies, ice cream and pickles.
If you needed practice for the big event (the birthing, not the baseball game), you could participate in Lamaze practice on the field before the game.
During the seventh inning stretch (marks), expectant moms went onto the field and led the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
And, if you timed it right, you could have gotten free season tickets for life. All you had to do was give birth in the ballpark. Did they have facilities available? Well gosh, I really don’t know.
By the way, the Brooklyn Cyclones beat the Auburn Doubledays 2-1. Awright!
Breathe in! Breathe out! Push! Push!
I love minor league baseball promotions.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Teeth Whiteners

I read this the other day about brightening up your smile: When snacking during the day, munch on crunchy foods like apples, carrots and celery. They help keep your teeth clean.
After lunch, chew gum to absorb moisture that might contain staining substances. To lessen the incidence of caries, chew sugar-free gum.
Rinse your mouth after eating, especially after dinner.
I do all of this anyway, but maybe others haven’t. Now … SMILE!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hello There

Once in a while, Gertrude the Dove feels obliged to pop up really close and look at me, as if to say, “Okay, buster, where are today’s crumbs? “
She can be so relentless, giving me the eye and projecting mental birdie thoughts into my pea-sized brain.
It works, y’know. I get up, she hops to the ground, I go in the house and get her something, toss it on the ground, and she gobbles ‘em up so fast you’d think she never had a meal in her life.
Feels good … doing a good deed, y’see.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Zzzzzzz …

That was the worst NCAA basketball championship I’ve ever seen on TV in my life. And I've been watching for at least 47 years, since 1964. The University of Connecticut won by a lame score of 53-41, coming off of a half-time score of … get this … Butler 22, UConn 19.
Last night, Butler set a record for futility, hitting only 18.8% of its field goals in the game.
Sports analysts were giving some credit to UConn for their defense, but really … all UConn to do was let Butler shoot and wait for the “doink” sound as the ball hit the rim like a brick.
They should have just picked their best players and had them compete in a round of “Horse.” That would have been more exciting.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just Think About It

If you want to eat less during the day, think about the last meal you’ve had.
British researchers have found that those who think about what they had for lunch tended to eat fewer snacks before dinner.
Why does this happen? Because when your mind recalls your meal, it send out signals to your body … and your body responds by remembering that it’s full and not hungry.
Well, oh yeah? I dunno ‘bout that. Oh, I know what’s wrong with my picture. I don’t eat lunch. So if I think about my last meal, I’m thinking about breakfast and around mid-afternoon, that’s enough to make me hungry, not curb my appetite.
So, here’s an amendment: Think about your last meal only if it was lunch.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fishy Wishy

Right smack dab in the middle of the Queen’s Medical Center emergency room sits a peaceful, quiet and serene aquarium, the perfect mind-relaxer for anyone sitting there waiting for their turn to be treated.
And boy, is it needed. The emergency room was packed to the gills last week when I was there waiting for my charge to be summoned inside. I can’t tell you how many people were just sitting there, staring at the half-dozen or so salt-water reef fish hovering around the lava coral rocks.
I wish I could tell you what species of fish were there, but I only can name one for sure – the Hawaiian aholehole (Kuhlia sandvicensis, pronounced “ah-ho-leh-ho-leh”). I think the yellow fish pictured here is a surgeonfish of sorts because of the barb near the base of its tail.

Because those little fishies are always moving in the dimly lit aquarium, I couldn’t take very many sharp pictures.
An aquarium – the perfect “stare at another world so you forget your own troubles for a while” distraction in a hospital emergency room.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Excuse Me, But …

You would think that a suspicious-looking package left in a federal office building would soon have a crowd of demolition experts and sniffing dogs surrounding it, wouldn’t you?
That’s not what happened in Detroit recently.
A private security guard at a building housing the Social Security Administration and the FBI found a package just sitting there all by its lonesome. “Hmmm,” he must have said,” I think somebody lost this. Let’s put it in Lost and Found, and see if anybody asks for it.”
Bad move. The problem is he didn’t have it screened first. So it sat in Lost and Found for four weeks.
“Hmmm,” somebody else must have said last week, “this package looks a little suspicious. Let’s have it X-rayed.” Good move!
X-rays revealed what looked like a bomb. The Federal Protective Service was called, along with Detroit Police who eventually detonated the package … a month late.
But … better late than never?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Boys Are Back in Town

It was a great day yesterday. Major League Baseball got down to brass tacks, the teams pared their rosters down to 25 players, and stadiums across the nation rocked with fans eager to get back into the swing of things.
The Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona closed up camps and the trains, buses and airlines were packed with teams and players either moving to their respective MLB cities or minor league camps, or sadly, home.
I’ve never been to an MLB opening day game, the closest I’ve come is a team’s home opening. But the excitement was still there. Granted it wasn’t exciting as it might have been on opening day, but what the heck, it was great.
Yesterday, the hot dogs had been boiling for hours, their snappy casings fairly bursting. The field was immaculate, the crowd expectant. And the players were ready to finally get going on the season.
There were three games in a row on ESPN, enough for any rabid fan to overdose. I was primarily interested in what my beloved Atlanta Braves were doing … they were after all, playing the very first game of the day.
And what a day it was! The Cincinnati Reds won with a walk-off home run by Ramon Hernandez, the Yankees came from behind to win, San Diego held on to beat St. Louis in extra innings, and the Dodgers beat the Giants.
Jason Heyward
The best part of the day? Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward slammed a home run during his first at-bat of the day, duplicating his opening day feat last year. He is one of only two MLB players to hit a home run in his first at-bat of the year, for the first two years of his professional career.

The way the winning teams were jumping around and cheering and slapping hands, you'd have thought they'd won the seventh game of the World Series. I love it, I love baseball ... it grown men into little boys.
Life is good!