Sunday, July 31, 2011

Doves Eat … Meat?

Okay, here’s something weird. I saw doves eating meat. I thought doves were vegetarians … picky vegetarians at that.
The doves that haunt our yard love rice. They love bread, they love seeds, they love crackers, they love cracked corn. In fact, they eat anything that’s about the size of a grain of rice. The ones that come around don’t care for fruit, though. No apple bits or banana bits or orange bits for them. And, they don’t like popcorn.
A couple of days ago, I was having a few slices of Sargento pepper jack cheese and some Hickory Farms summer sausage for lunch, along with a can of Coca-Cola. The zebra doves flew in as they usually do when they see me, followed by the larger spotted doves.
I didn’t have any crackers or starch to give them, so I thought I’d tease them. I chopped some cheese in with my teeth into small pieces and tossed them to the doves. ATTACK! The cheese was gone before I knew it.
Holy moly. Doves eat cheese. That was just a wee bit shocking.
Hmmm, I wondered, what if I chopped up some of my summer sausage and tossed it at them. I wonder if they’d eat it too. Probably not, I thought. The sausage is deep dark black blood red and it’s pure meat. And, it’s got spices in it.
You know what? They loved it.
As it turns out (I googled information on these doves), zebra doves in captivity should get some cooked eggs, chicken or insects several times a week. Live mealworms in sand are good. So they’re not pure vegetarians after all.
But sausage? That kind of freaks me out. Those soft little cooey doves with their sharp beaks eat meat? Like cow meat? Yikes! I think I’d better keep them away from my toes, don’t you think?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kaimuki Orchid Society Show

It’s orchid show season in Hawaii and the wife and I took a little drive out to Aina Haina today to gawk at the beautiful flowers on display at the Kaimuki Orchid Society Show.
Unlike some of the other shows we’ve gone to, this one featured creations from members of the Kaimuki club only. And that was just fine with us; the show was smaller and more intimate giving everyone a good chance to rub shoulders.
The show continues on Sunday at Aina Haina Elementary School on West Hind Drive. It’s easy to find as the club has posted directional signs all over the place.
As usual, I took a passel of pictures to moon over later.
Here are some of the winners:
Best in Show: Gram. Scriptum V. Citrinium

Best Other Color Cattleya: Waianae Leopard

Best White Dendrobium: White Fairy x Burana White

Best Phalaenopsis: Ching Hua Fair "Red Flash"

Best Paphiopedelum: Lemon Lime

Best Vanda: R. Masao Yamada
I wonder when the next orchid show is scheduled? Gotta make sure I don't miss it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pooped Pigeon

What does a pigeon do when it’s pooped? It pauses. It plops. It puts its patootie on the ground.

It was a hot day in the park. It had been hot for a few days and the grass had lost its emerald luster. But it was a beach park, so who can blame the grass? All that salt air and everything.

So anyway, there it was. Plopped on the ground. Pooped outta its pigeon plumage (which was quite pretty, by the way, toasty pate and black tail tips and all that).

I wanted to take a picture of my foot next to it, so I crept closer and closer, snapping pooped pigeon pix along the way. My next picture would have included my foot, but as soon as I snapped this one, off it flew.

Oh poo.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coffee Coffee!

Individual drip brewing
There’s a new coffee café (is that redundant?) open in Manoa Valley so the wife and I tried it out this morning. Morning Glass Coffee + Café has been open less than a week, so the place looks brand-spanking new without any wear and tear showing.

I didn’t know what to expect, except that I knew they were open early in the day.
You walk up to the counter and order, and they bring your coffee and food to the table, which qualifies it as a restaurant to me, so I can write about it in my “A Place for My Taste” restaurant blog.
They don’t’ serve full-on breakfasts during the week, offering a true breakfast menu only on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, their morning menu consists primarily of coffee. Lots of different blends and prep styles – coffee of the day, Hawaiian coffee of the day, espresso, Americano, lattes, cappuccino, café mocha. Plus scones, muffins, coffee cake, pound cake, toast, and either a breakfast sandwich, frittata or some other breakfast special.
The wife had hot cocoa and a current scone (delicious), and I had a spinach, cheese (Meunstar) and tomato frittata (even more delicious), plus a mug of Ethiopian Duromina coffee (dark, strong and flavorful). I’ll provide more details another day in the restaurant blog.
They have the usual barista accoutrements and machines, and brew each cup of coffee individually in cone drips (see the photo above). They time each brew, and when you hear the ding of the timer, you know another cup is ready to be served.
Ahhh, coffee. It’s the high-octane boost that gets one going in the morning.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Country in the City

One doesn’t find a lot of vegetables and fruit trees growing in the city. To me, growing your own produce has always been a hallmark of country living.

In Hawaii that means out there in the formerly agricultural suburbs, or on the neighbor islands. But occasionally one finds food being grown in city homes. It’s a case of you can take the person out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the person.

My in-laws originally moved to Honolulu from Maui. Lahaina, to be specific. And they had all kinds of trees in their backyards. A cow too, and rabbits, if I recall correctly. So they were used to having agriculture around the house.
I grew up in Hilo, but the only agricultural product we had at our home was sugar cane. And that wasn’t even in our yard; our lot bordered a sugar cane field. (Someday I’ll recount … again … my sugar cane field saga.)
Our home in lower Manoa sports two varieties of mango trees  -- Haden (my favorite), which hasn’t fruited in years because of some drastic pruning we had to do a few years back; and Pirie (I dislike this variety because it’s extremely perfumy), which fruits like crazy. Both are varieties that originally came to Hawaii from India.
We also have a small fig tree that has started bearing fruit. The fruit never gets ripe on the tree, however, because they are attacked by birds when they are half-ripe. The wife picks them when they are slightly yellow-green, but they’re not that tasty. Gotta be ripe, I say.

We have a Surinam cherry bush. That one’s near our front door and it’s a pretty plant, especially when the red “corrugated” cherries dot the bush. You know of course about our pomelo tree (I’ve run pictures of the cherries and pomelo before), and I think I’ve mentioned the banana tree that used to be in the back. That one, however, is gone.

Green onion flowers
Our neighbor has a guava tree that sometimes hangs over our driveway, which is great when it’s fruiting. Again, a big problem is the birds that are constantly around the houses in our neighborhood.
Finally, my mother-in-law took some rooted ends of green onions and planted them in a pot. They took root and are growing nicely, blooming occasionally.

Have you ever seen a green onion flower tuft before?
It’s simply … country in the city.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Piano Key Art

Wandering around the All-Collectors Show at the Blaisdell Galleria this past weekend, I stumbled upon quite an interesting booth.
It featured “piano key art,” something I’d never seen before.
I’ve seen ivory art before – carved elephant tusks from Asia, walrus and whale tooth scrimshaw created during the mid-19th Century whaling era – but never anything made with old piano keys.

In days of yore (pre-1930s), piano keys were made of ivory. Hence the term, “tickling the ivories,” which meant a person was playing the piano. Since then, because ivory is expensive (and can be illegally harvested), piano keys are now made of plastic.
The artists, Roger Van Boxtel and Robin Ritchie, have been creating piano key art for seven years now, and currently divide their time between their homes on Maui, in Green Bay, and Venice.
No, I didn’t ask the price. And no, I didn’t buy any. Not this go-around anyway.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer All-Collectors Show

A few times each year, Honolulu is treated to a collectors show. That’s when the wife and I hop into the car and motor on down to the Blaisdell Center near downtown Honolulu for a look-see.
It’s a pretty enjoyable outing, as we know most of the coin and stamp vendors, having set up at hobby shows many times in the past.
These days, however, I’m there as a very casual buyer, but don’t part with my hard-earned Social Security monthly cash unless it’s a monkey figurine that meets my stringent requirements (see my “Monkey Sees” blog, link somewhere in the right column of this page, for more details).
Meeting old friends aside, the fun part of attending these shows is to see what unusual items are being offered. There were no slide rule collections on display this time, no commercial laundry hanger collections, and no antique marbles. I did find something unusual, but I’m saving it for tomorrow.
Here are a few of the dozens of pictures I took:
Bromeliad plant at bonsai booth

Betty Boop surfing figurine

Halloween collectibles

Star Wars storm trooper
If you haven’t gone yet, you’re outta luck. It closed yesterday.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vintage Surf Auction

One of the side features of the All-Collectors Show at the Blaisdell Center Galleria near downtown Honolulu today was the 6th Biennial Hawaiian Surf Auction. Since the wife and I were wandering around the collectors show, we checked out the surfboards.

Dozens upon dozens of surfboards used by world-famous surfers were up for auction, including the one Gerry Lopez used in the final sequence of the movie, Big Wednesday.
Ocean artist Lee Clark 
I suppose this is a big deal to surfing enthusiasts worldwide, but tell you the truth, I barely know who Gerry Lopez is, and have no idea about the movie.

In addition to the classic and vintage boards displayed for the auction block, various authors and artists who specialize in the ocean sport were on hand to autograph their books and sell their paintings.

Again, I had no idea who they are, but took a few pictures anyway.

Surfing paper memorabilia
I had no idea this was going on, and it’s always fun to discover these events that are open to the public. It was even more enjoyable than the collectors show itself.

The word for that is “serendipity.” And that’s rad fer shure, dude.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weird Angles

Check out the drainpipe in this picture.
I noticed it yesterday for the first time while driving home using a not-so-frequently traveled route (I do this occasionally just to change the view).
Now, this thing may have been there for some time. Or, more likely, it’s newly constructed, judging from the fairly fresh duct tape used to connect the sections.
There must be some kind of story about the way it’s set up.
My take on it is that the vertical section developed holes and started to empty its drainage water onto the sidewalk. With me so far? Good. Then, in trying to fix it, they found duct tape just wouldn’t do the job right, so they had to replace the whole section.
The problem is (there always HAS to be a problem, no?) the replacement pipe section (the brown portion) was too short to reach all the way to the bottom. So they had to improvise. Still with me? Good.
They didn’t have a straight segment that could make a proper connection, but they had two curved pieces and a short straight piece. Tape ‘em all together and … voila!
I think that’s what they did. Looks silly, but what the hell … they figured it out. And that deserves applause.
Go ahead, you can clap now. (I wonder if they plan to replace the whole thing soon.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

They Ain’t So Dumb

I’ve heard people say that pigeons are dumb. All they know how to do is walk around pecking at the ground, often ignoring the dangers around them.
They tame pretty easily. Just head on over to a park and watch them crowd around someone – anyone – tossing seeds or bread or popcorn at ‘em. They may flutter away in a rush, but they come back pretty quick. Does that make them dumb?
Check out the picture above. Again.
It was a very hot day at the beach park when the wife and I went walking, perspiring like sweaty pigs and stinking up our shorts, socks and hats. The sun was beating down on us unmercifully.
But did all that sun bother these two pigeons? Nope. They knew where they were and why they were there. Pigeons are definitely not dumb.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recovered Fumbles

It looks as though:

There will be a Super Bowl next February after all.
NFL football fans will be screaming our ears off once again on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, as the two top teams face off in the annual Super Bowl.
Four months of contentious litigation and a player lockout are on the verge of proving fruitful, despite fan fears that the season might be curtailed or even canceled. And of course, there was the aggravation and uncertainty football fans had to tolerate.
At least, it would appear so. Nothing’s been carved in stone yet, but the sports news media is reporting that it’s all over but the signing.
I hope so. I have plans for Super Bowl weekend.
A former Michigan quarterback won’t be playing for UH after all.

That would be Tate Forcier, a malcontent Wolverine – a former starting quarterback, no less – who left Michigan, announced a transfer to Miami, cancelled that, and then expressed an interest in playing for the University of Hawaii.
It looks as though that idea is in the trashcan. The University of Hawaii has projected that Forcier will not be able to meet the school’s requirements (whatever they may be) to qualify for the team.
So they stopped recruiting the guy, who was set to visit the campus this coming weekend.
Guess that’s off, huh? No loss. I’m not a UH football fan anyway.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bluer than Blue

I saw something a little different during one of my walks on Magic Island – a Zebra Dove with the bluest facial markings I’ve ever seen.
This particular species of dove does sport blue around its eyes and just above its beak, but this one really stood out.
Maybe it was because the feathers on top of its head were darker than usual – browner than I’ve seen before. In fact, its head in toto gave the illusion that its entire beak was blue.
At first glance, Zebra Doves look pretty drab, but when seen close up, the distinct markings and patterns of its plumage are quite beautiful. I know. I’ve had them perch on the arm of my outside chair on occasion, affording me quite a prolonged examination.
That was a neat find. Blue beak.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kelsey Nixon

Amongst the new shows that I record and watch later is Kelsey’s Essentials on The Cooking Channel. Why? Two reasons:

First of all, it’s interesting. Kelsey Nixon makes all kinds of good stuff, and it all looks so simple when she does.
Even if you know how to make a dish, the show serves as a reinforcement and reminder. Plus, it stimulates me into thinking that maybe, just maybe, I need to get into baking bread … or casseroles … or sandwich spreads … or whatever.
She not only tells you the ingredients you need (the essentials), but also the equipment you’ll need (again the essentials).
Sure, she chatters a mile a minute, but listen carefully to what she says, because her patter is chock full of pertinent and interesting info.
Secondly, she’s cute. Kelsey Nixon is as cute as a button.
She’s so cute, in fact, and has such a good personality that although she didn’t make it past fourth place in The Next Food Network Star during its fourth season, she was voted “Fan Fave.” I remember watching the competition that year and wore a small pout on my face when she was booted off.
Kelsey is no slouch when it comes to cooking. I’d forgotten that she had her own cooking show called Kelsey’s Kitchen, teaching college students how to make simple meals. (Hey! Gimme a break! It’s been four years y’know. I forget anything that’s past three years ago.)
She’s got a degree in journalism, and that’s something we have in common. Plus she got a professional culinary arts degree at Le Cordon Blue in Los Angeles. Her recipes have appeared in Bon Appétit, Cosmo Girl, and Red Lobster.
That’s impressive to me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Eye Yi Yi!

For some reason, the first thing I thought about when I opened my eyes this morning was … my eyes. Maybe it was because I remembered I’d gotten a reminder postcard from my optometrist that it’s been a year since my last check-up.

Or, maybe it’s because I felt some of what the Japanese call me-kuso (“meh-koo-soh”), which basically means “eye crud,” when I rubbed them awake.
And then, I remembered that I had an article on file that listed a few things about eyes.
Voila! Blog post for today!
I’d heard some of these before, but there are a few that are new to me. How ‘bout you?
  • Women blink nearly twice as much as men. 
  • An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
  • A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes. 
  • Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing. 
  • Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
  • Owls are the only bird that can see the color blue.
  • Honey bees have 5,500 lenses in each eye. Dragonflies, on the other hand, have 30,000 lenses.
  • A scallop has 100 eyes.
And that’s about the s-eyes of it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It Ain’t Your Daddy’s Summer No More

Remember when June heralded in the summer television doldrums? That’s when network TV dominated idiot box programming. It was a time to check out the other channels in your town – PBS, for example, or an independent station.
That all changed with the advent of cable TV. All of a sudden there were alternatives to reruns and half-hour-long commercials.
Or, you could just go outside and enjoy the fine weather.
Cable television networks have been airing their own series for a while now, and quite successfully. I was addicted to The Sopranos on HBO, and Amazing Grace on TNT. Both no longer are on the air.
Since July arrived, some of my favorite shows have had their season debuts, and two new shows are now on my agenda. The great thing about it is, you can watch something else while you DVR the shows … automatically … to view at a more convenient time.
I usually watch the new episodes when they air for the first time, DVR-ing them anyway just in case my viewing is interrupted.

There’s a new show on TNT that I’ve been watching – Falling Skies (Sundays, 10/9 Central). Good stuff. Science fiction. Alien invasion. Steven Spielberg. Nuff said.
And then, there are three SyFy Channel series. One has restarted on Monday nights – Warehouse 13 (9/8 Central); it’s followed by a new show – Alphas (8/7 Central). The third – Haven – airs on Friday (10/9 Central).
All four are great sci-fi dramas, nothing real cheesey. Very intelligent shows.
On a separate note, I wonder when the second season of Boardwalk Empire will start on HBO?
Hot town, summer on the TV!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer at the Beach

View of Diamond Head from the Magic Island lagoon
Unless you live on an island with pristine beaches washed daily by warm ocean water and a brisk offshore wind, you don’t really know what summer paradise is.

I live in Hawaii. And to me, that’s the epitome of summer living. I don’t do much swimming any more, but I enjoy walking along the beach or in a park next to the sand, taking in the visual delight of sunbathers, children and gorgeous scenery.
Summertime in July is heaven in Hawaii. Even the occasional summer rain adds to mystique that pours into you like sweet honey on taro pancakes. I treasure the times when the light mist moves down from the Koolaus and kisses the cheek like a heavenly caress.
If you haven’t seen Diamond Head from the Magic Island lagoon, then you’ve just got to get away from home once in a while and have a picnic lunch in the park.
Look at that picture. I mean, REALLY look at that picture. Click on it to get a larger version and look at it. Isn’t Hawaii beautiful during the summer?
Then, come on down … consider this a personal invitation from me to you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Here, Skeeter Skeeter Skeeter!

“Stinky feet could be key in killing mosquitoes” Headline in this morning’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser

There are some people who say Bill Gates’ Microsoft products stink. That just might be.
But … did you know his Gates Foundation is helping with a product that REALLY stinks? It’s what I like to call the “Stinky Feet Save Lives Initiative" in the African nation of Tanzania (formerly known as Tanganyika).
It turns out that stinky feet – men’s stinky feet – attract mosquitoes. Lots and lots of mosquitoes. Four times as many as any other area of the body. Once that was verified, all it took was for a researcher (Fredros Okumu, by name), to concoct a magic blend of herbs and spices … oh wait, that’s KFC. I meant to say a magic blend of chemicals to replicate the odor.
Hey! This is groundbreaking and potentially life-saving, so stop laughing. Mosquitoes transmit malaria germs, and there are 220 million new cases of malaria each year. More than a third of those afflicted die; most of these are children.
The smelly concoction is used to bait traps, which kills up to 95% of the mosquitoes that enter.
Okay, now here’s something you can laugh at.
Apparently, there was this Dutch scientist named Dr. Bart Knols who first discovered that mosquitoes are attracted to stinky feet.
Wanna know how he verified this? He stood in a dark room naked, with a whole bunch of mosquitoes flying around. Dr. Knols stood there for quite a while, letting those little pesky buggers bite him wherever they were attracted to. Turns out, they favored his stinky feet.

I kid you not.
All I can say is … well, I won’t say it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lahaina Noon 2011, Part 2

If you live on Oahu, here's a heads-up. Whatever you’re doing at 12:30 p.m. Saturday (that’s only a couple of days from today), drop it and go outside. Bring your camera with you. Hang around for 7 minutes and wait. At precisely 12:37 p.m., look down and around you.
Shadows will be as small as they will ever be. Long, narrow, tall objects like flagpoles will have no shadow whatsoever.
It’s Lahaina Noon 2011, Part 2.
Remember Part 1? It was on May 27, two months ago. Because Hawaii is in the tropics, we get to experience the phenomenon of having the sun directly overhead.
Lihue’s Lahaina Noon occurred at 12:42 p.m. Monday. That’s because Kauai is farther north than we are on Oahu.
Hilo’s Lahaina Noon will happen on Sunday, July 24, at 12:26 p.m. Later than Honolulu, because the Big Island is farther south than we are.
Don’t say I didn’t give you a heads up, now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

‘Tis the Season

The path well trodden by Craig and Diana
I love walking near the ocean on a beautiful summer day like today – cool salty breezes, the splashy rumble of the breaking waves, calming bright blue of the water, people walking, cooking and eating, just plain enjoying themselves.

If there’s one thing about Honolulu, it’s that we’re a 24/7 city. Because of the tourist industry, we’re not just a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday kind of town. Take a drive on the freeways almost any time of day and there are cars going to and fro. Somebody is always getting off of, or heading off to, work.
And it’s a time when school kids from all over the world arrive in bunches. Today, for example, on our walk at Magic Island, the wife and I spotted a couple of buses full of what looked like Japanese high school students. They were all gathered by the water, apparently having just had their group picture taken.
Japan students on excursion
It must have been a great picture. Can you imagine going back to school in Japan with a big picture in your hands, pointing out to your friends which one is you, with the impressive buildings and Diamond Head in the background? Oh, get real, Craig. These are young people from Japan we're talking about - they wouldn't carry photos, they'd just whip out their mobiles. 

We saw at least one church group (few dozen people) all set up with tent shelters, the mouth-watering aromas of teriyaki grilled meat wafting across Magic Island. A short distance away, a volleyball game was going on with its players yelling, “Aloha ball! Aloha ball!” They were probably an office or work group having an outing.
And remember, this is Tuesday, near the middle of the week, not a weekend day.
We saw at least two inflatable bouncers for kids, the beach was full of sunbathers and swimmers, the walkways were filled with people jogging or walking – oldsters like us, young kids, teens, young couples, professionals in their exercise shorts … you name it, they were there.
On a Tuesday. In the summer. In the park.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Despicable Tagging

Waterfront Park has gone through some needed repair and fixing up lately, so it distressed me immensely when I saw this:

Tagged Picnic Area
I felt like confronting whoever did this, and slapping him (or her) silly. I just can’t express in words how enraged I was that some stupid person had done this to the freshly painted picnic table and bench. Talk about feeling disheartened and disappointed in people.

Have we lost respect for nice things? Just what IS this insatiable need of some people to deface property? Is a clean flat surface akin to a coffee table with nothing on it, something that calls out to be occupied?
You surely couldn’t see my rage, but you might have heard my expletive and seen the radioactive mushroom cloud that rose into the sky from the top of my head.
I hope they find this person and cut off a few fingers. Truly, I do.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tiny Little Fishies

Tiny Little Fishies
By Craig Miyamoto (July 10, 2011)
Tiny little fishies
Swimming in the sea,
Making tiny bubbles,
Looking up at me.

 I wonder how they got there,
Frolicking with glee,
Do they charge admission,
Waiting for a fee?

 I’m sure they are enjoying
Their life that’s so carefree,
Tiny little fishies
Swimming in the sea.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

All Bundled Up

While walking at Magic Island last week, I passed an older man all bundled up in a long, black padded nylon parka and I couldn’t resist taking his picture from behind (didn’t want to show his face for privacy reasons).
He must have been broiling out there in the direct sun, but he wasn’t perspiring when I first saw his face under the hood. That surprised me because it was brutally sunny and must have been in the 90s despite the ocean breeze.
The man was wearing a dirty pair of rubber slippers (black as well) that I hope protected the soles of his feet from the hot cement sea wall.
One can’t help but wonder what his story is. My guess is that he’s homeless and was just whiling away the time at the beach, where no one would bother him. I later saw him reclining on his side on a bench … under the blazing hot sun, not in the shade.
God bless him, I hope he’s okay.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chinese Hall

Near King Kamehameha V’s house in Moanalua Gardens is “Chinese Hall,” a tea house used by the Damon family (the property was owned by The Damon Estate), who used it to entertain important visitors to Hawaii – i.e. military officers, commissioners, scientists, authors and literati.
Originally located on the other side of the H-1 Freeway, the hall was moved to its present location in 1960, replacing a Japanese garden and teahouse that were used during the reign of Kamehameha V (formerly known as Prince Lot).
Presenting a blending of Asian and Victorian design, Chinese Hall has a second-level chamber that’s hidden from view, where a small musical group was able to perform for the guests (the true definition of “background music”).
I don’t know if the hall is in use today, but when I last visited Moanalua Gardens, I saw some people entering the front door – perhaps maintenance people, or visitors on a guided tour, I suppose.
It’s beautiful and serene there, befitting of the Moanalua Gardens’ ambiance. I'd love to go to a reception there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Annie Sibboney

One of the newer shows on Cooking Channel is “From Spain with Love,” hosted by raven-haired Annie Sibboney. Curious as to how I’d like the show, I DVRed the first episode and settled down a night later for a viewing.

I have to say that the show itself was pretty entertaining, with an almost-National Geographic quality to it, giving the viewer an insight into Spanish culture as reflected in its foods. It’s this quality that keeps me watching other food-related programs such as Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. They go to the source.

“From Spain with Love” has that quality … kind of.
My problem with the show is host Annie Sibboney. Sure, she’s nice to look at, she seems to relate well to the people with whom she interacts in Spain, and she does a fine job when she's narrating. But when she talks to people, she’s got this … laugh.
Laugh, laugh, laugh … all the time, whenever she finishes a sentence of observation. It’s as though she’s nervous about how her Spanish hosts are taking to what she says.
It’s not a giggle (that would be even more horrid), but a laugh. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Irritating.
On that first show, I thought of rewinding, specifically to count the number of times she laughed. But I was nice; I didn’t. Recently, I watched the first half of another episode and did start counting – nearly 20 times in the first 15 minutes.
I didn’t watch the second half.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Texting Demon Curtailed

I am happy to report that I have slain the dragon and laid that SMS texting demon to rest. My texting minutes have dropped considerably and no longer am I skirting at the precipice counting my texts to avoid overage charges.
Texts these days are limited to important stuff … like communicating with family when I’m on a trip, like sending a nice message to special close friends, like updating my Facebook or Twitter with pictures when I’m doing something.
Aren’t you proud of me?
Hmmm … I think I’ll send howdy texts to a few friends today. I deserve it.
Hey! Gimme my phone back!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wait! Is this New?

South Korea to promote reading at schools.‘Crawl’ heading at bottom of Korean KBS news channel TV screen.
Wait! You mean they don’t already read in school? And they have to promote it?
This is one of those “Duh!” statements that make you wonder out loud. I mean, what’s the big deal about promoting reading in schools. Shouldn’t they be doing that anyway? I mean, isn’t that how one learns? By reading?
Well yea-a-ah, it is.
Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. What the station is really trying to say in a few words is that students in Korean schools will be encouraged to read more books after school, with the South Korean Education Ministry providing  financial support to 500 teachers’ reading clubs in 2011.
Apparently, they want to expand the program to double the teacher participation by 2013.
Now THAT explanation makes sense.

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Avian Visitors

Blooming 'Octopus Tree'
Our neighbor’s Octopus Tree (Scheffiera actinophylla) has bloomed, and the long arms full of flowers have attracted a couple of new visitors to our yard.

Normally, we never see any Common Waxbills (Estrilda astrild) or Yellow-Fronted Canaries (Serinus mozambicus), but there they are this year, gracing our airways with their little tweeps and beautiful colors.
These two species were pretty much a recent discovery for me. I hadn’t heard of, or seen, either of them until maybe a couple of years ago during walks near the beach. You may recall I wrote about them the first time I saw them.
Beauty in nature never fails to impress me:
Common Waxbill

Yellow-Fronted Canary

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Scotch Taped Eyelids

I don’t know if they did this where you grew up, but if you grew up in Hawaii during the ‘60s, you may remember that young girls (Asian girls, to be specific) used to covet double eyelids.

Aside from having eyelid surgery, many of them snipped little strips of Scotch Tape and applied them onto their eyelids just above the eyelashes, resulting in double lids.
To disguise the tape, they’d apply eye liner on the tape. I won’t say it made them look any better, but if it made them feel good, then what the heck. I will say it was easy to spot a girl who used the tape.
This morning, I saw an ad on TV for Dream Look™ Instant Eye Lift and thought, “My God, they’re selling the damned things now!” They’re targeting adult Caucasian women whose eyes are beginning to droop.
An introductory order of 64 invisible lifts plus 64 bonus lifts will set you back $19.99 plus $7.95 shipping and processing, plus additional $7.95 shipping and processing for the “free” bonus lifts. Sign up to get a fresh supply of 64 lifts a month and pay only $19.99 a month after your introductory offer runs out, and no more shipping and processing.
Let’s see now … your first order will be $19.99 plus $7.95 plus $7.95 for 128 Dream Look™ lifts. That’s $35.89, or 28¢ per lift. What if you bought a roll of Scotch Magic Tape and snipped off your own? You can get a dispenser containing a roll of 25 feet at any drug store for about a dollar.
Or, why not just skip the whole thing altogether?

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Fresh Strawberries, San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market
I finally got around to making pancakes for breakfast this morning – heaps of steaming hot silver-dollar pancakes drizzled with real maple syrup and topped with juicy fresh strawberries.

The strawberries came from Costco yesterday, purchased along with too many other things as the wife and I waited for our prescriptions to be filled at their pharmacy. One of the reasons I don’t like going to Costco is because it’s always crowded and we spend way too much money. Plus, it was the Friday before the Independence Day weekend ... 'nuff said.
Be that as it may, the strawberries were beautiful – deep red, plump and virtually blemish-free – reminding me of the strawberries we saw at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market a few months ago in San Francisco’s Embarcadero district.
Without my knowing, the wife (bless her wonderful heart) graciously hulled the berries last night while I was in bed watching some nerdy science programs on the Science Channel.
To add icing to the cake (or perhaps syrup to the pan-cake), the Food Channel’s “Brunch with Bobby (Flay)” this morning featured silver-dollar pancakes with real maple syrup. Was that an omen, or what?
So … the first thing I did after turning on the coffee maker was slice and macerate the strawberries, sprinkling them with a mixture of brown and white sugar, and letting them stand while I did the rest of the stuff.
“Did I make the pancakes from scratch?” you ask. Well, if you call measuring out a couple of cups of Bisquick, adding a cup of milk and one beaten egg making it from scratch, I did. Oh, I did add a teaspoon or so of baking powder for fluffiness, and a teaspoon of vanilla for additional flavor. So yeah, I scratched.
Some Portuguese sausage on the side, my steaming mug of finely ground Peet’s Italian roast coffee, and I was set.
It’s gonna be a great day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Random Musings 10

My wife gets irritated when I don’t answer the phone. But c’mon … I mean, it might not be for me, right?
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I wanted to try yoga, but decided it’s not for me. Oh, I did try it, but couldn’t get past the “rest position.” I kept falling asleep.
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What to do? What to do? If I leave the toilet seat up, my wife gets irritated. But if I leave the toilet seat down, the dog gets irritated.
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Do people with full sets of dentures ever buy toothpicks? Hmmmm, I wonder.
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Since Superman is the “Man of Steel,” do you think his wife uses refrigerator magnets to stick their kids’ school artwork on his chest?