Tuesday, January 31, 2012

M'name's Sandy, Ma'am

I can recall the days when Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas was just a regular ol' street, with cars driving by and pedestrians jaywalking, taking their lives into their own hands. Actually, it was pretty safe, as the lights from the casino signs were so bright, it was like daytime out there in the dark of night.

Now, it's a mall. The Fremont Experience. Kiosks abound, as well as acrylic artists and other such talented people. Once, I even saw a '60s Volkswagen love bus on display.

When I was there in December, the rodeo was in town, and right smack dab in the center of Fremont was a sand sculpture. Made sense. Las Vegas is in the desert, the desert has lots of sand, there's no beach so sand artists need to put their work where they can. The cowboys were in town, so a cowboy theme was entirely appropriate.

Juxtaposed next to a kitsch shop, the Western sand art had everything going for it.

Viva Las Vegas!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter in Honolulu

Remember a few weeks ago when I ran a picture of a beautiful pink tree just to irritate those of you who are experiencing the dead of winter where you live?

I'm doing it again. This time, it's a panoramic view of Waikiki and Diamond Head framed by a beautifully calm, warm ocean and a heavenly blue sky laced with fluffy clouds. Took this picture on Saturday when the wife and I went for a walk.

If you click on the picture, you'll get a larger view.

Enjoy. Better yet, come visit us when it gets too cold where you are. I think it's in the mid-80s here today.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hawaii’s Pro Bowl Yuckles

After attending the first two NFL Pro Bowls in Honolulu, ‘way back in 1980 and 1981, I gave up my tickets. Although the Pro Bowl was a novelty and a sensation in Hawaii once it settled here after its wandering days, I’d had enough.
When I was in newspaper work in Los Angeles, I used to get free tickets to the Pro Bowl, which was always played at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Granted, the seats were ‘way up there in the ozone layer, but that was okay because attendance was always light and we could meander down to better, unoccupied seats.
Back then I was an ardent LA Rams fan, so it was fun to watch my favorite players together at one time on the field – classic players, like Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olsen, Bart Starr, Mike Ditka, Deacon Jones, Johnny Unitas and Fran Tarkenton. Now, those were all-stars.
Plus, the game was played after the championship game, so all of the league’s top players were there.
I was reminded of today’s game this morning when I read Ferd Lewis’ column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, in which he talked about some memorable moments at Aloha Stadium. My favorites from his Top 10 List:
1981: “Men, our goal this week is to be on the beach at 11:30, and I’m just here to play golf, so get to know your assistant coaches.” – John McKay, AFC coach.
1993: Troy Aikman left the game at half-time to catch a flight back home; consequently, NFC coach George Seifert couldn’t put him in.
1995: “Damn, I didn’t want to go to Honolulu. Already been there 16 times.” – Barry Switzer, NFC coach.
2002: Rich Gannon (AFC Oakland Raiders) won the MVP, but somebody forgot to bring the trophy, so they hustled up a bowling trophy and gave that to him instead.
I kid you not.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Here Come the Woofers and Yappers

This is just something to put in your tickler file so you don’t forget – The 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 13-14, at Madison Square Garden.

It’s a little too early for me to schedule it on my DVR, but it’s marked on my calendar, circled in red. I’d sure hate to miss the competition (I’ve been watching it for as long as I can remember). It’ll be broadcast live on the USA Network.

A total of 185 breeds can compete in the annual show, including six new ones this year.

In the picture above, the six newly eligible breeds are (top, l-r), the Xoloitzcuintli (formerly known as the Mexican Hairless), the Norwegian Lundehund, the Finnish Lapphund, (bottom, l-r) the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, the Cesky Terrier, and the American English Coonhound.
The Westminster show is one of my “Don’t Miss” programs of the year. I can’t wait.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oh Poop, the Birds Are Back

You may have seen this story before, because it’s not new; it’s just that it’s back in the news now because of CNN’s broadcast story of the phenomenon yesterday. The birds are back! Black ravens by the thousands.

What is it about Kentucky that’s attracting hordes of ravens? They swarmed in Shelbyville during the spring of 2010, and now they’re swarming in La Grange.
Lots of them. And along with the birds comes bird poop. Lots of it. Some of the residents there said they have to run indoors when the birds arrive, and that the sound of their whitewash splattering on the ground, on their cars, on their roofs, and on their umbrellas sounds like rainfall.
‘Cept it ain’t rain. It’s more stinky.
Pastor Paul Begley, on the website, Rapture in the Air Now, calls gatherings such as this signs of Jesus’ coming. The “times of the Apocalypse” are upon us. I’m not sure he’s right, but then again, who knows for sure?
The swarm of birds? Or the swarm of religious opportunists? Which is worse?
Either way, it’s a sign that the Apocalypse is near. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock and Betty Boop! Good E-e-evening. Poop-poop-pi-doo!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Even Lawyers Have Standards

Sherman's Lagoon

I know, I know. My bad. I'm making fun of lawyers. But they are often referred to as sharks, and people do make fun of them, so just for today, I'll succumb to dark side and join the frivolity. Besides, this is funny.

. o O ( Couldn't help it, this comic strip just cracked me up. )

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Primm Valley Fashion Outlet Mall

Next time you're in Las Vegas and want something to do, why not take a 45-minute drive south on I-15 toward Los Angeles? Just keep on driving through the desert until you reach a small resort area known as Primm Valley.

There you'll find a couple of casinos and a terrific up-scale shopping mall known as the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas (a misnomer for sure because it's so far from Las Vegas, but I guess you capitalize on famous place names, right?), which is the home of about 100 stores.

It's all indoors, so whether it's windy freezing cold outside, or like a summer oven, you're going to be comfortable as you empty your wallets.

Your favorites are there: DKNY, Tommy Bahama, Perfumania, Crocs, Old Navy, Williams-Sonoma, Hugo Boss, American Eagle, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, Coach ... and, the only Neiman-Marcus Last Call outlet store I've ever come across in my travels.

They've got a small food court too, as well as some fast-food outlets in the parking area. Whenever we're there, the wife grabs a lemonade from the Hot Dogs on a Stick booth. It's difficult to just walk a straight line down the mall concourse because you want to divert and check out the kiosks that fill the center aisle.

Such temptation. I try not to go there everytime I'm in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where Hawaii Ranks 9

The United Health Foundation recently released its findings for 2011 – its America’s Health Rankings. For more information, you can visit their website: www.americashealthrankings.org.
Here’s some of what they found about Hawaii:
Overall Healthiest States
1.       Vermont
2.       New Hampshire
3.       Connecticut
4.       HAWAII
5.       Massachusetts
Cancer Deaths per 100,000 Population
1.       Utah (137.4)
2.       HAWAII (158.9)
3.       Colorado (163.9)
4.       Arizona (166.7)
5.       New Mexico (170.0)
Cardiovascular Deaths per 100,000 Population
1.       Minnesota (197.2)
2.       HAWAII (214.3)
3.       Utah (215.2)
4.       Colorado (217.0)
5.       Arizona (218.3)
Lack of Health Insurance (% of Population)
1.       Massachusetts (5.0% of population)
2.       HAWAII (7.5%)
3.       Minnesota (8.9%)
4.       Wisconsin (9.2%)
5.       Vermont (9.5%)
Obesity (% of Population)
1.       Colorado (21.4%)
2.       Utah (23.0%)
3.       Connecticut (23.0%)
4.       HAWAII and Nevada (tied at 23.1%)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Happy New Year! Today is the first day of Year 4709, according to the Chinese calendar, and all across Asia (and Hawaii, with its large Asian population), people are celebrating the Year of the Dragon.

Not any old dragon, mind you, but the Water Dragon. Water influences the dragon in 2012, as it did in 1952, by calming its fearless temperament. Enthusiasm will be redirected, and people born in the Year of the Water Dragon will be more perceptive of others.

Dragons are risk-takers but usually are blessed with good health. Where others may run into obstacles, dragons normally find the paths ahead of them to be clear and obstacle-free.

They make good computer analysts, engineers, inventors, architects and lawyers. However, they are egotistical and crave being the center of attention. They are usually bossy, dominating and authoritative.

Dragons find their best relationships with partners born in the Year of the Rat.

So now you know!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Japan's Bullfinch Festival

Japanese Bullfinch ("Uso")
Next week, Tenjin shrines throughout Japan will sponsor their annual "Uso Exchanges" – a ritual that involves a pretty bird called the Uso, or bullfinch.

With its red breast contrasting starkly with its black head and tail, the little bullfinch has come to represent falsehoods in our lives … lies as it may. But these lies can be exchanged for the truths inherent in the spirit of Sugawara Michizane, a poet, scholar and politician in Japan’s Heian period.
Since the 17th Century, locals have gone to Tenjin shrines and purchased wood-carved manifestations of the Uso. They then exchange the wooden birds with others who they meet at the shrine, symbolically turning their misfortunes into lies and exchanging them for truths.

This ritual usually is scheduled for January 25, so if you hurry, you still have time to get to Japan and participate.
Me? I think I’ll hang on to my lies this year. I'm saving my money to go to Las Vegas.

(I have to credit Marukai Market's monthly publication, Irasshai, with turning me on to this information. This interesting mailer is where I get most of my knowledge about Japanese customs and traditions that I pass on to you.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Laura Calder II

Laura Calder, as you probably already know, is one of my favorite television chefs of all time. Her series on The Cooking Channel, French Food at Home, is must-see morning viewing for me.

New Haircut (November 2011)
However, since she only did three series for Food Network Canada, which are the shows being shown in the U.S., there are a limited number of different episodes being broadcast in Hawaii.

Good News/Bad News #1: Fortunately, for us Calderphiles, she was the subject of Chefography on The Cooking Channel on Dec. 30, 2011. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I missed. It. Consequently, I’ve been waiting for it to replay so I can DVR it and not miss it again.

Good News/Bad News #2: The good news is that Laura has completed filming her new series, Recipe to Riches. The bad news is that it’s for Food Network Canada and I’m not sure if it’ll be shown in the U.S. right away.

Laura posts fairly regularly on her Facebook page whenever she’s around and her posts are quite interesting, revealing many of her inside thoughts and moods. She’s not like some other celebrities who have others do their posting for them. Plus, she often carries on a dialogue in posts people make on her page.

When she asked on Facebook what she should do with leftover ham in vast quantities, she got 133 suggestions.

For a nifty personal look at Laura, check out her website at www.lauracalder.ca.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Pizza Blot

Do you blot away the grease squirming around on top of the pizza so conveniently dropped off at your front door by the nice young man driving a weird-looking Volkswagen with a pizza sign on top?

You really should. You could lose weight – granted it’s not much of a weight loss over the course of a year, but it could be healthy and less artery-clogging to boot.

I was watching a 2009 episode of Food Detectives on The Cooking Channel, where they replicated a Popular Science experiment and proved unequivocally that pizza using poor quality cheese releases a lot of oil. Why? Because the cheap cheese used by fast-food pizza restaurants contains a lot of oil – more oil in the cheese, more oil on top of the pizza. Makes sense.

Okay, so they cooked 20-inch pizzas and cut each into 8 slices. Each slice averaged 3.5 grams of fat blotted off (averaging about 35 calories).

Then they shared their math: Two slices a week (the national average) adds up to 104 slices a year. That's two cups of grease or 3,640 calories. And that's an extra pound gained each year.

As for the paper napkins they used for blotting the greasy pizza, they were weighed before and after blotting.

Blot, blot, blot … helps prevent heart clot, clot, clot.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lure of the Outdoors

Dangling from a rack at the Cowboy Christmas Gift Fair that I attended in Las Vegas this past December were these den signs extolling the virtues of the outdoors - hunting and fishing, in particular.

I can't imagine having any of these in my home; after all, I don't own any Pendleton shirts, barn jackets, leather boots, fishing gear or rifles. But they are amusing to look at when you find them all in a bunch like this.

My favorite one is the second from the left: "We Interrupt this Marriage ... to go Fishing." Oh, reel-y? LOL.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's Janet Air?

I betcha a buck you never heard of Janet Air. Yet if you've been to Las Vegas, you may have seen its planes sitting on the tarmac. Just look for the aircraft with a red stripe running horizontally across its fuselage windows.

Janet Air flies exclusively between Las Vegas and the infamous Area 51, about 80 miles north of downtown Vegas. It's where the U.S. Government supposedly is stashing alien UFOs and ostensibly an alien or two that crash-landed somewhere in the desert in the 1950s.

No, it's not transporting aliens to and from Las Vegas. Rather, it's transporting people who work there and live in sin city.

I learned about Janet Air on the History Channel program, How the States Got Their Shapes. They had a special program on areas of the U.S. that aren't owned by anybody 'cept the Federal Government. Mighty interesting indeed, and if you get a chance, check out the series.

Curious, I was able to take this picture from a service road just off the Las Vegas Strip, across from the Four Seasons Hotel next to the Mandalay Bay. Turn toward the airport on the little street next to the Smart Mart.

Just one more interesting thing to do when you get tired of gambling, or after you have your picture taken at the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Golden Globes

Every year around this time, I open the morning newspaper and see a story about who won Golden Globe Awards this year.

And every year around this time, I am reminded that my entertainment viewing habits are wa-a-ay outta line with the general public - at least those who vote for their favorites.

Not one of my favorite television shows, not one of the movies I saw last year, not one of my favorite actors/actresses won a Golden Globe. Nary a one. Zero to the nth degree.

Y'know, I don't even know who had been nominated and was in the running; Frankly, I didn't even know the awards show was televised on Sunday night. At least with the Academy Awards, I've seen at least a couple of the movies and actors/actresses that are nominated.

I think I'll refer to the Golden Globes as the "Foldin' Globes" as far as I'm concerned from now on. It seems more appropriate.

Oh well, maybe next year ...

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Alien Football Fan

While we guys at the baby shower were watching the New Orleans Saints - San Francisco 49ers NFL playoff game on Saturday, I noticed something very strange.

I saw what I swear was the shadow of an alien probe raising its arms (articulations?) in joy as the Saints scored a touchdown. See it? To the right of those players in the foreground? Amazing! It almost seems joyous in its celebration.

Quick! Somebody call the Center for UFO Studies! Somebody call the U.S. Air Force and tell them we have a doozy for the Project Blue Book! Quick! Somebody call SETI!

I kid you not.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Was Forced to Attend ...

Craig arrived bearing gifts (Photo by the Wife)
... a baby shower, of all things.

Yesterday, I attended my first baby shower since my eldest son was still waiting to hitch a ride with the stork. That was in 1966. This latest one was in 2012 ... 46 years later, good gravy.

I dunno why I let myself get talked into these things. But, as it were, I went to my BIL's BIL's daughter's baby shower and rather enjoyed myself. One can't arrive at these things empty-handed, so I carried in a flower arrangement put together by the wife, and a pink shopping bag full of plastic and paper goodies, if you get my drift.

They even coerced me into playing a couple of games. I did win the "Drink the apple juice from the baby bottle" game, but then was disqualified because I didn't hear them say not to unscrew the nipple from the bottle and drink the juice that way.

Didn't do well in the "Guess the baby food" game, but the wife won a beautiful orchid plant. I think I only got one out of eight right. She got three, which just goes to show how awful everybody's guesses really were.

Then there was the "Guess what candy bar was smooshed in the diapers to make them look like baby poop" game. I would have won, but I changed two of my answers. The winner had two right, and I would have had three.

Guess that serves me right for being disqualified in the apple-juice suckling game.

I can hardly wait to attend my next baby shower ... in another 46 years.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Helping Just One

One of my Facebook friends posted this picture recently, and it reminded me of a quotation that I carry around in my wallet at all times.

It's a quotation by Jacob M. Braude, author of Braude's Source Book for Speakers & Writers (Prentiss-Hall):

Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect. There is some work that will never be done if you don't do it. There is someone who would miss you if you were gone. There is a place that you alone can fill.

Everything boils down to just one, be it a dog, a child, a friend, a protege, or you. Most especially you. You are the one. Without you the world will be missing something of great importance and value: Your presence and your legacy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

So, Whodat?

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ran this pictue on the front page of yesterday's sports section, illustrating a story about University of Hawaii at Manoa's new head football coach, Norm Chow, with whom many college-football fans are familiar. After all, he did run the offenses at USC and UCLA.

He's the one in the black shirt, black trousers, and lei. The cutline identifies his daughter to his right, then his wife to her right, then two assistant coaches.

But, you may ask, who is that squat, bearded guy sitting on the right of the picture ... the man with his arms folded defensively? Why, that's our governor, what's-his-name. I don't know why the newspaper didn't identify him. Could it be a subtle snub of some sort? Hmmmm.

He is, of course, Neil Abercrombie, former congressman from Hawaii. Which reminds me ... why did the outdoorsy clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch drop the "Fitch" from its name? I used to get some clothes there, now I can't even get into the door because of the loud music that's blasting out of the stores. "A&B," they call it now.

And another thing ... Norm Chow is going to have to get some white or light beige pants if he wants to fit in with the crowd. LOL.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stuff That’s Tough to Throw Away

According to Diana Reese of Family Circle magazine, there are several categories of things that we just don’t want to throw away, no matter how old or outdated they are.

You know what? I believe her. I mean, just look around your house. I betcha you’ll find at least a couple of items in each category in the list that really now … admit it, you should dump or give away.

Her list (and my comments):

1.       Kitchen utensils: I’ve got extra pots and pans galore. Even pots without handles, even non-stick sauté pans that are scratched and no longer non-stick.

2.       Coffee mugs: You should see my collection. Every time someone gives me a coffee mug, onto the mug shelf it goes.

3.       Plastic containers: We’ve got ‘em, two cupboard shelves full of them, remnants from stuff that came in plastic containers.

4.       Little-used stuff: Like staples for a stapling gun that’s rusted, little jars of ground ginger that’s turned into a brown ball, thumbtacks missing a bulletin board, etc., etc.

5.       Vases: Again, closet shelves full of them. I mean, the wife just can’t dispose of vases that came with flowers someone gave us.

6.       Food: Just thank God you don’t have to look into our freezer and refrigerator, not to mention the back of our cupboard and larder.

7.       Spices: The spice rack is full. Spices lost their potency and I think most of ours lost theirs decades ago. We have powdered cinnamon that was bought in the ‘70s.

8.       Receipts: Boxes and  boxes in closets, the basement, and in garage storage .

9.       Magazines: I’m actually getting better with these. Instead of saving them to give away, I dump ‘em now, ‘cept for ones I think my mom would like to read.

10.   Mail: Hah! This is no longer on my list, although there’s a stack that the wife and other members of the family don’t open, but just leave there lying on the kitchen table.

11.   Unread books: I think I have this one solved too. I now do all my book reading either on my Kindle or my iPad2. Still, I do have a bunch of texts and reference books from my days as a university professor that I just can’t seem to get rid of (a reverence for the printed word, y’see).

12.   Clothes: Tell me about it. Every now and then, when I cull my wardrobe, the wife insists she’ll give them to someone who wants them. Anybody want a pile of used clothing in a couple of laundry baskets? And how come nobody throws away old children’s clothes? I think some of my sons’ have worked their way all the way to Florida by now.

13.   Kids’ artwork: It’s only when your kids leave home that their artwork disappears off the refrigerator door and into a drawer, never to be thrown away. Then you get grandkids and the cycle starts all over again.

14.   Electronics: Anybody want an old desktop computer, either of my two old laptops, my non-digital television sets, my Palm Pilot, or my old videotape camera?

15.   Linens: We have sheets that I bought from an outlet store in downtown back in the mid-‘80s. They’re so thin in the toenail area.

16.   Medicine: The other day, when I opened the medicine cupboard in the kitchen, I found and threw away at least a dozen bottles of old, expired medicine. There are more hiding there. I just have to get ambitious and search for them.

17.   Toys: Will somebody throw away those Legos? I stepped on one the other day, and we haven’t taken them out since the sons left elementary school in the ‘70s.
I kid you not!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sleep Texting

I knew this was going to happen ... it's inevitable. They've been studying "sleep texting" - you know, people texting on their mobile phones while they're asleep.

The phenomenon is not surprising in the least, after all, there are those who can text almost unconsciously while carrying on a face-to-face conversation (I've actually seen this). So why not sleep texting?

People walk in their sleep. People talk in their sleep. People scratch their backs in their sleep (okay, maybe I'm just talking about myself with this one). So of course, there will ber some who text in their sleep.

The question I have is, what would you say in your text to someone while you're sleeping, and why can't it wait until you wake up? I know, that's two questions, but stay with me here, it gets interesting.

What if you text someone you really hate but who for some stupid reason is in your directory? Worse yet, what if you phantom-dial a long distance number to a crazed dictator somewhere in the world and tell him he has bad breath? You might start World War III.

They say a dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep (sorry, stole that from a Disney animated feature). Well, what if you're dreaming about getting even with your nemesis in life and just won a competition with him or her and dream that you're texting a gloating message, but instead you actually reach for your phone in your sleep and text the love of your life, and the next day s/he is suddenly out of touch and refuses to answer your phone calls?

What about that? Huh? Huh?

Lesson learned: Turn off your phone, leave it to recharge in the kitchen, and not by your bedside. If it rings, get up and walk to the kitchen. Just make sure you're not sleep walking.

Now, please turn off the lights. I need to get back to my bed and dream I'm returning home from left field.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Almost a National SHAM-pionship

I wasn't sure I was going to watch the Alabama-Louisiana State football game yesterday, despite it being the BCS "National Championship" game. After all, hadn't these two teams played an absolutely boring no-touchdown game earlier in the season?
Call me a fool, but I decided to watch. Surely, they'd have figured out how to overcome each other's tough defenses, right? Surely, there'll be a bunch of exciting, championship-caliber touchdowns scored, right?
The Crimson Tide charged up and down the field in the first half and could come away with only three field goals (one missed). No touchdowns, despite getting close a lot. LSU looked absolutely impotent and went into the locker room at halftime with nothing but a huge goose egg on their side of the scoreboard.
Second half? Practically more of the same. Alabama charging but stalling, then kicking a field goal. Missed one too. LSU danced around like a lame ballerina at the beach.
Finally, with 4:36 remaining in the game, Alabama scored the first touchdown between these two this season. Yep, they had to play a total of one hour, fifty-five minutes and 24 seconds before a touchdown was scored. And then, it was only poetic that Alabama missed the point after touchdown.
But that’s okay. The final score was 21-0, and if you only saw the score and didn't watch the game, you'd think Alabama scored three TDs to win. At least the game got a little exciting at the end, and the score looked good.
The LSU Tigers played like they were constipated. No fire. No oomph.
I wonder if LSU coach Les Miles forgot to give his boys their Viagra before the game, they were so impotent. They couldn't even get past the 50-yard line into Alabama territory.
Maybe they needed to have their juju blessed by Priestess Miriam at her Voodoo Spiritual Temple in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
This was a "National Championship" game? With all due respect to my friends who were yelling “Roll Tide!” all night, it sure didn’t look like it. Anyway, thanks to the touchdown, it avoided becoming a National SHAM-pionship game.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cool Computer Feature

You may have heard that I have a new computer, purchased sometime in November, picked up sometime in December thanks to an inattentive Best Buy Geek Squad guy, and only recently set up because I had better things to do during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

It's a Dell Inspiron One 2320 - an all-in-one desktop computer that has no tower and separate screen. Everything is in one unit fronted by a large 30" diagonal wide screen.

The cool thing about it is the Fast Access software that comes already installed. Once you register your facial image, it uses that image to let you into the computer instead of a password.

Turn on the computer, a window pops up and directs you to hold on a second while it gets ready. Then a little green box appears on the small image and follows your face around. As soon as you're recognized, you're in. Takes about 1/10th of a second, by my estimate.

Sure beats remembering and typing in a password.

Oh, by the way, it directs you to move a little. My guess is it does that to ensure nobody uses a photograph of me to fool Fast Access. It wants to see the facial features change ... I think.

The only thing is, none of my family will be able to use the computer in an emergency, unless we register their images first. Guess I should get hopping on that, huh?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Scoop on Poop

It was a place where if anyone heard you saying, "Oh crap!" they wouldn't mind. Because they'll probably be doing the same thing you are ... no, not making poop ... examining poop and everything you've ever wanted (or not wanted) to know about it.

Scat, doo-doo, dump, poop ... that's all I could think about when I visited the Origen Museum at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. "The Scoop on Poop!" One heck of an exhibit.

The nice lady at the entrance to the exhibit had some samples of fresh (!) animal scat on hand and asked me if I had any questions about poop. I told her no, I've had enough experience in my life already and probably knew more about poop than most people. Yeah, right ... LOL.

But y'know, poop IS rather interesting. I mean, how often do you get to see (and touch, if you want to) life-sized models of pachyderm poop? You'd never do that at a zoo or in an African preserve, would you? Nope, I doubt it.

And oh my goodness, did you know that a newborn white-tailed deer actually has to get its mother's permission before it can poop? And did you know that in order to protect their babies from predators who might get ... er, wind of the droppings, the mommy eats (EATS! Ewww!) the poop?

And that's no gag! (Well, maybe it is.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Random Musings 14

I heard a woman complaining that Christmas ends too fast. Should I have told her to charge Christmas purchases next year to stretch out the payments past Christmas?
* * * * *
Why do I always need a nap after the Monday morning stares? Is it because I’m really doing mental gymnastics, thinking of stuff? It’s exercise, isn’t it?
* * * * *
Does the last lemming in the bunch still feel compelled to jump off the cliff when there’s no pressure behind him?
* * * * *
Wait … I’m confused. Wasn’t YESTERDAY the first day of the rest of my life?
* * * * *
Don’t owls know how to spell? I heard one saying “Who?” when it should have been saying “Hoo.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

Heart Attack Haven

Okay, okay! Now that we’re into the New Year, it’s time to make your New Year’s resolutions. Do you? I don’t. I mean, what’s the use? I’m not going to remember what I said when the end of the month rolls around.
I could say I won’t eat any more greasy hamburgers this year, but how long do you think THAT would last? Not long. Especially if I go back to Las Vegas and take a walk down the Fremont Street Experience to the Heart Attack Grill.
Have you seen it yet? They serve the hugest fat-dripping, mega-cholesterol burgers this side of Bedrock City. And they’re not ashamed of it either. Neither are their customers. I’ve seen people stagger out of there and lean on the hood of the ambulance parked near the entrance. 
Their window posters are great! They advertise stuff like no-filter cigarettes, pure cream butter fat shakes, even a quadruple-bypass burger.
Hey, how can you say bad things about a restaurant that proclaims, “Over 350 Lbs Eats Free”? They urge you to ask about their liposuction lottery. That one (the 350-pound one), I’m thankful to say, I don’t qualify for.
I kid you not. Yum!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Bonus Stuff

They’re insidious; they find their way into our lives. And you know what? We can’t get rid of them. We keep them. Because we know they’re free. Because we know they might come in useful someday.
You know what I mean. It’s those bonus items that come with things we buy. Things like:
·         Rubber bands
·         Twist ties
·         Plastic margarine tubs
·         Cookie tins
·         Jam and spaghetti jars
·         Shirt pins
·         Safety pins
·         Small gift boxes
·         Bubble wrap
·         Supermarket plastic bags
They are bonuses, they're free and oh, so useful, so we do what our parents did. We keep them. We just can’t find the heart to throw them away.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Omni Flight to Vegas

Vacations Hawaii uses Omni Airlines International for its charter tour flights to Las Vegas, and recently, I got to fly on their new 767 aircraft. In first class, no less.
It’s always a different experience to fly first class. The crew is much nicer to you, and you meet the nicest people sitting next to you. Most of them are older; I’d say the average age of the passengers is around 70+. Just look around in the waiting area.
Older folks like to buy the Vacations Hawaii package. So much so that a whole section up front in the main cabin is reserved for people in wheelchairs. I remember in the past where the wheelers boarded first and were situated in the rear, by the toilets. Stinky.
However nice it was to sit in the wider first-class seats, I do have some negative observations.
First of all, the nuts they served with the pre-meal drinks were nice and warm, but stale and soft. That should never happen. I do have to say that during the return flight, the nuts were less stale, but still somewhat soft.
Some of the seat video monitors malfunctioned, and the problems were beyond the capability of the first-class cabin crew to remedy the situation. It’s no help when the passengers are elderly and averse to anything new. It was actually quite humorous to watch, but I did my best not to giggle or chuckle or stare. See how nice a guy I am?
As for meals, on the outbound trip from Honolulu to Las Vegas, I had two choices – chicken curry, or beef with mozzarella. I chose the chicken, a pretty good, and definitely tasty, choice. On the return trip, they offered chicken with mushroom gravy, or steak with mashed potatoes, broccoli and gravy. I had the steak. Passable, although definitely well-done.
I may do it again the next time I head off to Las Vegas with Vacations Hawaii. Such good deals. Hard to pass up. Plus, the Omni flights are not bad.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Got "Obama-nated"

Sometimes, unplanned delays interrupt our lives just when we least expect them and are cutting it pretty close in getting somewhere by a certain time.

Case in point -- Yesterday, we were headed out to Pearl City for a family dinner at Buzz's Steak House, and were on the H-1 Freeway at Red Hill, when suddenly, everything ground to a complete halt. Every car in every lane headed toward Honolulu Stadium was stopped.

We sat there, and sat there, and sat there. Eventually, I took my foot off the brake put the car in park. Why? Because we figured out what the delay was. President Obama was on his way to Hickam Air Force Base to hop on Air Force One and return to Washington, D.C. Guess his Christmas vacation in Hawaii was over, huh?

I'm presuming his motorcade came over the Koolau Mountains from the windward side on the H-3 Freeway, then swung onto the H-1 and headed toward Hickam. That meant that our westbound H-1 traffic was stopped at Red Hill. And, as it turned out, eastbound traffic also was stopped at the H-1/H-1 Viaduct intersection.

Boy, was it stopped. Once we got moving 15 minutes later, we could see just how jammed the other side of the freeway was. All the way to the Pearl City turnoff. A very long distance. Very long, indeed. People were standing outside their cars, and on their pick-up truck flatbeds peering ahead trying to either (1) catch a glimpse of the President, or (2) figure out exactly what was going on.

I would have yelled out information to them, but we were zipping along at quite a clip. Besides, we were late for the dinner reservation.

Hope the President got home safely this morning.

Obama-nated, indeed!

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Cleanup of the Year

It’s inevitable. You know all those traditional things you put up to welcome in the New Year? They gotta be disposed of eventually.

According to Japanese Shinto tradition, which many in Hawaii follow, that means taking down the kodamatsu, the shimekazari, and the kagami mochi.
Is there a special way to do it? Well of course there is. After all, we’re talking tradition, aren’t we?
First, the mochi, or rice-paste balls. There they sit, perhaps a bit moldy-green or black in spots. How do you get rid of those? By eating them, of course. But you don’t cut them apart. Oh no. You have to break them apart with your fingers or maybe a mallet.
See, the Japanese word for “cut” is kiru, and it’s not an auspicious (success contributing) word. The word hiraki (or biraki) is, however. It means “opening the way” (for good fortune). So, don’t cut it. Rip off the moldy part, and chew on the stale mochi until it’s all gone.
Then, you know those ornamental things (the shimekazari) that you put up at the front door and (perhaps) room entrances? Take them down and place them into a bag. Sprinkle them with salt to “purify,” seal up the bag, and THEN dump it in the trash.
As for your kodamatsu, the bamboo and pine decorations that grace your entrance, don’t throw them away. They need to be burned after January 15 (preferably the 19th), to appease the toshigami (the deities of the New Year).
So … bash and tear, salt and toss, then burn. There you go. Okay … now you can relax.