Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Movie Flop

I went to see the new hit movie, Hunger Games, the other day … and no, the “movie flop” alluded to in this post's title doesn’t refer to the movie.
It refers to a fall I took as I shuffled between the rows of seats to get to mine. See, I went to see the movie at a Titan-Xc theater and once in a while (like for a popular movie), they assign you seats. My seat was AA20, first row in the upper section, with a pipe railing in front.
A perfect seat.
Unfortunately, I stepped on the toe of my left foot, can you believe that? Talk about being a klutz. I stumbled, was unable to keep my balance due to my ample midsection, and fell forward, landing on both my knees with a big thud against the concrete floor.
Ow. Oh ow.
I was able to catch the railing with my left hand, preventing a total face-smash on the ground, and even maintained my grip on my soda. Talented hands, I must say. But I wrenched my left shoulder and my knees were on fire. I managed to get myself back up and hobbled to my seat.
Good thing the theater was empty due to my early arrival. A guy was sitting a few rows up and he asked if I was okay. Gave him a thumbs up and acting nonchalant, began rubbing my knees. Everything worked, I could flex my knees and bend them, and my toes could wiggle.
Good. Nothing broken.
As it turns out, the denim material on my jeans actually caused huge strawberries on my knees that burned like heck for about 15 minutes. Then, the movie started and I forgot about the pain, concentrating on Katniss Evergood’s attempts to stay alive in the Games. Wow, and I thought I was hurting? Yikes.
Here’s what the knees looked like when I got home and cleaned them up:
I bandanged them and have since been walking like Frankenstein’s monster because the wraps made it difficult to bend my knees. But y’know, I count my blessings. The theater could have been full, I could have smashed my face and … I could have spilled my Coke.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kentucky Down Under Birds

Wandering amongst the bird enclosures at a zoo or animal park is always a welcome experience for me. Even better is walking inside an apiary and mingling with the birds themselves (make sure you wear a hat).
Most of the beautiful birds at Kentucky Down Under in Horse Cave, Western Kentucky, are in cages, unfortunately, but if you get up real close, the chicken wire becomes less of a problem. If you want pictures that eliminate most of the wire, put your camera up close with the lens at a hole in the mesh. That’s what I did.
My favorite bird adventure was the Land of Lories. The guide gives you a little paper cup of sweet syrup that the lories crave. As soon as you enter the enclosure, they swarm over you, landing on your arms, shoulders and head. They’re not at all camera shy, so I was able to photograph a beautiful one as it perched on my left hand:
Rainbow Lory - Trichoglossus haematodus
The rest of the birds were caged. The kookaburras were hiding and not singing or laughing, unfortunately, so I didn’t get a good shot of any. But there were a few magnificent cockatoos and lories out and about, sunning themselves:
Goffins Cockatoo - Cacatua goffiniana

Red Lory - Eos bornea bornea
I got a big kick out of the frogmouths – so named because of their wide mouths that emulate frogs’ mouths. They’re strange-looking birds indeed:

 Papuan Frogmouth - Podargus papuensis

Tawny Frogmouth - Podargus strigoides
Birdy, birdy in the sky ... drop some whitewash in my eye. Just kidding! Hey, watch it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kentucky Down Under

One of the neat things I did when I visited Kentucky was head off to Horse Cave (great name, huh?) and check out Kentucky Down Under, which is sort of like the Australian Outback in Bluegrass land.
It’s not exactly cheap ($36), but if you’re a kid 14 or under, it’s $18. And if you’re preschool, it’s free. So make sure you lie about your age.
I didn’t have enough time, so I had to skip going to Kentucky Caverns. That was a bummer, but I wanted to make sure I saw the livestock – the Australian birds, the sheep, the kangaroos and wallabies, and especially an aviary they call the “Land of Lories.”
The Outback Walkabout is rather interesting, ‘cept they make you stay on the path and generally keep away from the kangaroos, allowing only controlled petting opportunities. Kangaroos can be quite dangerous if they get excited, and I wonder if they got some advice from lawyers, or (heaven forbid) if a guest was injured.
On the island of Kauai, here in Hawaii, there’s a restaurant called “The Bullshed.” Well, they don’t have a bullshed there at KY Down Under, but they do have a Woolshed where you’re given a lesson on the different type of sheep and the how their fleeces are used to help mankind.
It took the better part of a half-day, but I’m glad I took this side trip. Here’s a bunch of pictures that I took (just a few out of dozens):
Me ... and Birdy Friend

Grey Kangaroos

Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo Joey

Different Sheep Breeds

Milking Moo Cow
I’ll show you some birds next time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

See Y'All Laytah

Left Field Wander is going to be offline for a few days, got some stuff to do ... I'll catch up with you later next week and let you in on what I did.

My other blogs have been automatically scheduled, and I'll have my iPad with me, so I should be able to advise on Twitter and Facebook as to what's been posted while I'm gone.

Take care of each other now, y'heah?

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Craving French Toast


I have this craving for French toast this morning. I wonder what set that off? Don't you just hate when that happens?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our New Roof

New Roof
Well, it was a couple of days of early morning to mid-afternoon hell for a few days this week, but it was all worth it.

The new roof has been installed. No more does the house have a marshmallow top. Instead, the roof is a lovely color-coordinated tan with variegated texture and color, which should be light enough to reflect away the hot Hawaiian sun during the upcoming summer months.

No more trucks blocking the driveway, no more outhouse in the front yard, and especially no more pounding, stomping and scraping above my head as I'm trying to get a few moments of extra sleep in the morning.

Awwwwrightie, then!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oops!

I'm sure Freedom United States has done, and is doing, good things. After all, they send care packages to our soldiers fighting overseas to help with their morale.

Their packages contain clean underwear (new, I hope and presume), cookies, candy, chewing gum (depending on what's available) and paperback books, definitely a welcome addition to MREs and GI food.

However, they really should get their ducks in order before embarking on a fund-raising campaign. They were walking Windward Oahu communities recently, going door-to-door asking for donations.

Uh oh ... one of the homes they hit was the residence of a Hawaii deputy attorney general, who's area of specialities is (get this) charity oversight. Well, he did some investigation and it turns out Freedom United States doesn't have the proper documentation to solicit funds. Their donations are NOT tax-deductible and their financial records are untrackable.

The endshot? A cease-and-desist order. What dunces. Whatta maroon.

I kid you not.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Front Yard Port-a-Potty

Roofers Roofing, Trucks Parking, and Port-a-Pottying
We've got roofers ripping the hell out of our roof this week, replacing shingles that ... well, that are in need of replacing.

The driveway is jammed with big trucks and we've had to park one of our cars outside (that little white SUV there) so it doesn't get trapped in the garage. It came in useful too, yesterday. See, we're also having our kitchen painted and it's difficult to cook anything without having to dig into boxes to find pans and utensils.

I was a little surprised to see that the roofers brought their own port-a-potty to use. There it is, that familiar green structure behind our SUV.

I'm kind of proud of it being there. I mean, how many people in the neighborhood have a functioning outhouse in their front yard? I betcha I'm the envy of all around us.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Everybody Loves Raymond

The Barone Family – Robert, Frank, Debra, Ray and Marie
After I'd seen all of the old Monk episodes (I may have missed one or two, but I doubt it), I needed something else to catch up on.

For a while, I was DVR'ing Angela Lansbury's Murder She Wrote, but kind of lost interest in the J.B. Fletcher mystery after a couple of months. Then one day, I was channel surfing and came across Everybody Loves Raymond on TBS. Now THAT jabbed me right in the funny spot.

Since then, I have been DVR'ing four episodes a day and watching them later in the evening. Four aren't much, they whiz by pretty quickly. Four half-hour episodes actually work out to only an hour and a half of actual programming time.

The sitcom's premise is simple: Sports columnist Ray Barone (Ray Romano) is married to Debra (Patricia Heaton); they have a daughter and twin sons Ally, Michael and Geoffrey (real-life siblings . Madylin, Sullivan and Sawyer). Ray's parents, Frank and Marie (Peter Boyle Doris Roberts) live across the street, and they are visited frequently by Ray's giant of a brother, Robert (Brad Garrett).

Talk about a dysfunctional family. Robert has an inferiority complex, Frank is gross and curt, Marie is passively aggressive and critical, Debra has a hot temper, and Ray is ... well, Ray is a wimp. Put 'em all together and you have the recipe for an irritating show (which it can be at times) that somehow ends up making you laugh ... because it's really yourself that you're laughing at.

I even watched an HBO documentary, Exporting Raymond, that chronicled the show producer's (Phillip Rosenthal) journey to Russia to adapt Raymond for Russian audiences. Now that in itself was funny.

I'd forgotten how I'd enjoyed the old half-hour sitcoms.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

‘Alouette’ is a Mean Song

Have you seen that new Target commercial celebrating the joys of color as young people jump out of a balloon and magic-touch everyday items as The Delta Rhythm Boys sing a lilting French song?
That song is ”Alouette,” a song I learned when I was in grade school. Which in itself is a little unusual because who’d-a thought a little boy in Hawaii would be singing a song about plucking a bird in the French language?
Not just any bird. A lark. A beautiful bird with a beautiful song. And the singer wants to pluck it. I’d thought it was a dove when I was a kid. And that the dove was gentle and beautiful. Why? Because the lyrics begin with Alouette, gentile Alouette (“Lark, nice lark”).
But … the next line is Alouette, je te plumerai (Lark, I shall pluck you). Good Lord. And THEN, you have to sing, Je te plumerai la t√™te (“I shall pluck your head”). The verses that follow advise the lark that you’re going to continue plucking – la bec (beak), le dos (back), les ailes (wings), les pattes (feet) and la queue (tail).
Oh, how gross. I’ll never be able to look at the Target ad again without thinking of a naked bird posing in the middle of the bull’s eye logo.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Shunning of the Green


Today is St. Patrick’s Day. March 17, right? It’s bad enough that people use the day to get drunk for a supposedly “legitimate” reason, but this year, it falls on a weekend and I shudder to think how boisterous it’s really going to be – all day, not just tonight – downtown Honolulu and in Waikiki.
Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s at least one group that’s not going to be wearing green, drinking green, or even munching green. It’s the doves that come visit me when I’m having my midday green tea break.
The other day, I took some Froot Loops cereal outside with me, and crushed a few of them as a treat for the zebra doves that come swooping in when they see me settle down for tea and a read. The little buggers are generally pretty picky, and if my treats aren't white or light brown, they sometimes shun my offerings.
Empirical observation: The yellow and cream-colored loops went first, followed by the other colors. Eventually, only one color of crumbles was left – green. For some reason, they just looked at the green, cocked their heads, looked again, and walked away. It’s like the green had halitosis or something.
A couple of hours later, when I went back outside, the green ones were gone. I don’t know if they got so hungry that they relented, or if the larger spotted doves muscled themselves in and ate ‘em.
My money is on the spotted doves.

Friday, March 16, 2012

‘Since We’re Here’

They could be the three worst words a husband can hear from his wife … “Since we’re here.”
The other day, I had a few things to do – pick up ‘scripts at Costco, get a haircut. And, as usual, the wife tagged along since she wanted to buy some knobs and pulls to replace the ones removed when we had bathrooms, dining room, living area and hallways painted last week.
First, Lowe’s. We spent an inordinate amount of time picking out drawer and cabinet pulls. They had some nice ones, but not enough of each to match up in the various rooms. Finally, though, we were able to buy a bunch – 38, 11, 8 and 3 … which may seem like small quantities, but believe me, it takes a long time.
Wife: “Since we’re here …”
We ended up roaming the aisles for more stuff – electrical outlet and light switch plates. I was starting to get light-headed. We added onto her list some shelving paper and a bathroom vanity light. More walking. The black-colored things were starting to look gray, and the grays were starting to look white.
Couldn’t find a vanity light we liked, so the wife suggested we go to Home Depot or City Mill. She failed to grasp the male concept of “Don’t shop, just buy.” But that’s an essay for another time; remind me around Christmas.
I headed for the checkout. “Why don’t you go to the self-service checkout?” she offered. Hell no, I wasn’t going to scan five dozen individual items … that’s something a checkout clerk should do.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we got out of there after an hour and a half.
Next, we moved on to Costco to pick up pre-ordered prescriptions and a roasted chicken for my mother-in-law.
Wife: “Since we’re here …”
You should see what extra stuff she made me buy at Costco – a big box of Maui-style potato chips, a 25-pound bag of rice, a big bundle of toilet paper (which should make my mother-in-law happy), some prepped salmon for dinner, a few big ol’ artichokes,  turkey rolls for lunch, some fake eggs, and some other stuff that I don’t remember.
Wife: “Since we’re here …”
“I’m going to check the video section,” the wife added. Of course she did.
I got to an empty checkout line (Glory Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!) and began zipping through it like a bat out of hell. Just as the checker was totaling up and I was about to sign the electronic screen (note: I hate those things, my signature always looks like a kindergartener’s finger-paint scrawl), here comes the wife …
No videos, just more stuff “since we were already there.”
Okay, Costco done … the barber was next, and hopefully the last place we’d go to.
Wife: “Since we’re here … “
While I was having my hair shorn off, a one-and-a-half buzz cut all around, which kind of distressed the lady barbers in the adjoining chairs … (“So good looking and cutting all off!”) the wife wandered about Ala Moana Center, just because.
One thing about these buzz cuts, you’re in and out in a jiffy. But not jiffy enough. When I made my exit from the barbershop, there was the wife with a package in her hand. She’d gone to the See’s Candy store next door … since we were already there.
Needless to say, I headed straight home. My one hour plans had turned into five hours of hell. Why do I do this to myself? I guess I had to, since we were already there.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Big Ol' Bufo

There I was, sprawled out on my director's chair outside, quietly reading a book on my iPad, not bothering anybody, a mug of hot green tea steaming alongside me.

The wife was raking up some stray leaves that had fallen from the mango tree alongside our driveway ... skritch skratch went the little bamboo rake on the asphalt. Then, she stopped.

"There's a dead toad between the orchid pots," she advised me. Instead of just raking it up into the pan and tossing it under the mango tree, she had chosen to involve me in the situation. "Can you throw it in the rubbish bin for me?"

See, she expected me to pick it up, put it in a plastic bag, roll up the bag, and throw it away for her. I don't blame her, actually. Have you ever come across a dead toad in the road, one that was squished by a car several days earlier? It really smells bad.

Be that as it may, I told her to give me the rake and dust pan and I'd throw it under the tree to provide nutrients for the plants and whatever else lurked there at night. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, y'know.

But when I rolled it into the dustbin, the freaking thing came to life, righting itself, striking a pose and staring me right straight in the eye. Wow, what an ugly bugger! Toads aren't my favorite animals, but they ARE pretty fascinating. They just lumber about in their dark black-brown ugliness, looking fierce and menacing.

They're not, y'know ... fierce and menacing, that is. But they do have a defense. They exude a milky white substance from the pores of their ugly warty skin. And that liquid is poisonous. Back in 1935, the Australians imported cane toads from Hawaii in an effort to control cane beetles.

Whoops! Think about it. The beetles fed on leaves ('way up on the plant), and toads live on the ground ('way down near the plant). The result? No impact at all on the cane beetles. However, the toads proliferated and animals that preyed on them would be poisoned and die ... especially pet dogs. Yikes!

Ah, but I digress. We let that toad live and for all I know it's still there among the orchid pots munching away on insects. And that's as it should be.

Bravo, Big ol' Bufo!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Taking Things Literally

Maybe that's my problem too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hilo Days: J. Akuhead Pupule

A few years ago, I had a website that I called “Hilo Days,” a chronicle of my life in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. I’d written a limited edition book that I gave only to members of my immediate family, and later put the whole shebang up on a Geocities website.
When the free websites finally went away, mine disappeared. But I did keep the HTML and the stories themselves. I guess this is as good a place as any to share some of the stories … that is, until I get up the energy to start a dedicated blog and run the stories there.
So, here’s the first:
J. Akuhead Pupule
Hal Lewis was better known as J. Akuhead Pupule ("Aku" for short) when he was alive. Back in the B.R. (NOTE: “Before Riverside” School) days, I remember him coming to Hilo and putting on a show. I think it was at Hilo Airport. It's a little hazy but I do recall a man standing by us who had only one thing to say about Aku: "Boy, is he ugly!"
I mention Aku for only one reason. He used to have a kiddie program on the radio that served as a sort of afternoon "story time" for us kids. Many was the time that I broke off from the football game in the street (but we HAD to play in the street, there was nowhere else, and we didn't have television) to rush into the house and listen to Aku's story.
Sometimes, I forgot. Those days were simply ruined.
The stories themselves turned out to be inconsequential. I don't remember a single one. The thing that stuck with me throughout the years was his traditional sign‑off. Aku used to say: "If you no can say nothing nice about somebody, then no say nothing at all."
Good advice, and strongly reinforced by many others as the years passed. I still try to follow his advice.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daylight Saving Time

Hawaii is immune from such shenanigans as Daylight Saving Time. When most of the United States (there are a couple of exceptions) had to move their clocks an hour forward before bedtime on Saturday night, we were spared once again from having to mess with our clocks.
Oh yeah? Unfortunately, somebody forgot to put in the order.
Our electricity went off around 4 a.m. yesterday morning and stayed off for several hours. So the wife and I went out to breakfast since we couldn’t cook. Lemme tell you, Zippy’s McCully was packed to the gills with people having Sunday breakfast, probably because they also couldn’t cook at home.
When we returned home, our power was back on; apparently it returned not long after we went out.
Which is all well and good, except that there were a few digital clocks that had to be reset. About the only ones that maintained the right time were the cable boxes. All the rest either were blinking or displayed the wrong time.
Guess who had to reset our clocks?
So haha to me, you mainland folks can stop laughing now.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Anniversary of Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami


The 9.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan a year ago today was the fourth largest in recorded history, and much of the world takes pause today to recall the images that flooded the airwaves and Internet following the devastation in northern Japan.

Today, the Japanese economy is on the rebound – modest, perhaps, but on the rebound for sure, with a growth in its gross domestic product showing a 2-3% increase since before the earthquake.

The country seems to have survived the ensuing nuclear crisis and is slowly rebuilding, although some hard-hit areas are still in a mess.

There’s a lot of detritus and debris swept into the ocean by the tsunami, rubbish and memories that are due to hit Hawaii’s shores and the U.S. West Coast. Some of it may have already reached America’s Pacific shores, but the bulk is still out there.

When will it reach Hawaii’s beaches? Scientists believe it will be less than a year from now.

It’ll be sad to see the debris wash up on shore – so many memories, not mine … so many lost lives, no one I knew … so many hopes and dreams dashed, thankfully not mine. But I will be sad, for … them.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Toonder ‘n Lightning


It’s been rocking and rolling above many states in the U.S. this past week, and Hawaii was right in the middle of it – well, maybe not right in the middle, more like out there on the left side of the map.
The biggest impact of the thunderstorms came on Monday night when I was rousted out of a pre-sleep calm at about 8:30 p.m. The TV was on, I was totally relaxed with the sound of the light rain pattering on the roof, when all of a sudden it sounded like our neighbor’s house had blown up.
A huge, deafening boom rocked my bedroom wall and I literally lifted an inch or so up the bed. It’s a good thing I’m not incontinent, or it would have been sheet-changing time. The rest of the night, all I could do was listen to the growing frequency of rumbles.
The thing about the a-bomb blast next door was that it didn’t just stop with the boom … the rumble continued rumbling for at least 10 seconds. That may not seem like a long time, but believe me, it’s like a 10-second earthquake and seems to go on forever.
And then, just when it looked as though three days of rain were enough, it all came back yesterday.
We live at a higher elevation, and there’s no river nearby, so we didn’t have to be concerned about the nearly constant flash flood warnings that crawled above the picture on our TV sets. And thankfully, even the occasional “waterfall” that springs out of our stone wall at the back of the house didn’t materialize.
But we sure got a lot of rain. And lots of sturm und drang. Ja, ja.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Random Musings 15

If a snowman goes through airport security, I wonder if they’ll make him fit into a three-ounce bottle.

* * * * *
I wonder why anyone would go to a coffee house and drink espresso when they want to relax and calm down.

* * * * *
Why hasn’t anybody invented an electric fork that will cook food between your plate and mouth? Wouldn’t it save a lot of time?

* * * * *
Casey Kasem used to say “Keep your head in the clouds and your feet firmly planted on the ground.” But if I did that, how would I get my pants off?
* * * * *
I wonder … what would happen if I made apple pie ala mode with chocolate ice cream, would it then become “apple pie ala mud”?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stringing Along

A recent conversation in the Miyamoto household:

Wife: Can you find some string for me?
Me: Sure! What kind?
Wife: Just some string.
Me: You want twine? Or cord?
Wife: Yes, any kind.
Me: Which is it you want? String or twine or cord?
Wife: No matter. It’s all the same to me.

Well, dear lady, at the risk of being a nerd (oh what the hell, I already AM a nerd. And a geeky one at that), they aren’t the same thing. To wit:

·         String is material twisted together to form a thin length.
·         Twine is strong thread of two or more strands twisted together.
·         Cord is strong strands woven together into a length.
·         Rope is heavy cord.
And that’s about the size of it.

Oh, except that the largest twine ball ever assembled is 41 feet six inches around. It is displayed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Branson, Missouri. Apparently this millionaire – J.C. Payne of Valley View, Texas, had nothing better to do than build the darned thing. It took four years.
I kid you not.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beyond the Mist


Come stroll with me, there is a place
Where we can wander in a mist
That raises high in reach of heaven,
Lifting from the liquid kiss.

Floating over that verdant glade
Where streaking swords of soft-dew light
Shine there to guide us on the path
Now lined with blossoms glowing bright.

We’ll sit aside the waterfall,
Beside the crystal frothing wet,
Cushioned by the velvet moss,
Offered there for us to set.

Our thoughts will smile as there we lie,
And lay our cheeks upon the green,
To hear the power of its roar,
To marvel at this glorious scene.

The blue cascade – so fresh and pure,
With emerald robes that watch it flow,
It soothes, refreshes, gives us pause,
And smiles with lacy foamy glow.

Here we embrace and cheek the mist
That dews in droplets on our eyes,
We kiss away the moisture sweet
And claim the moistened lips for prize.

We groom the soft moss from our hair,
Rejoicing at this beauty call,
And dance beyond the shadow of
The power of the waterfall.

I wrote this poem during a reflective moment in January 2005.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

OrGREENic Non-Stick Pan

Hey! I broke down and got me one of those OrGREENic non-stick saut√© pans. Y’know, the one they advertise on television. The one with the green ceramic coating.
It’s a 10-incher that cost me exactly $26.13 ($24.95 for the pan, and $1.18 for state excise tax). Not too bad, most non-stick pans cost about that much.
I’d thought about going online and buying it from their website, but then I’d end up with two pans, which kind of commits you to the cause, right? Although, you do get a free cookbook and a “surprise gift valued at $20.” The only thing about the “free pan” is that you have to pay separate shipping and handling – their ploy that brings in an extra $6.99.
Do the math: One pan at $19.95, plus $6.99 shipping and handling, equals $26.94, about the same that I paid. Except that you have to get the second pan (they leave you no choice) for an additional $6.99. That’s $34.95 for the two pans. Not bad if you want two of them, for that works out to $17.48 per pan. Except that now you have two pans, and they pocket an extra seven bucks.
If I wanted to, I could have bought one on Amazon.com for $18.00. Unfortunately the shipping for one pan is $11.17, for a total of $29.17 for one pan. However, if I purchased something else and my purchases totaled more than $25.00, I could have gotten free shipping.
All this math is giving me a headache. The main thing is, I got to touchy-feel the pan, talk to the store manager, and walk out with it instantly, by visiting the “As Seen on TV” store.
So I paid sales tax? So what? I got to contribute two pennies (rounded up) to the Honolulu Rail Transit Project that more and more people seem not to want.
I tried it out this morning, and once you season it (easy ‘nuff to do), it works great! Better than the black non-sticks I already use.
OrGREENic … Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hawaiian Volcano Plants

Well now, that's interesting ... Hawaiian Volcano Plants. Nice label at Home Depot's garden center. A bit misleading, perhaps, but nice name anyway.

The flowers of course are anthuriums, those beautiful red heart-shaped flowers with the shiny, waxy surfaces and prominent white, yellow-tipped spike called a spadix.

Anthuriums are plentiful on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is where the state's major volcanos are located. So I guess it's natural for some clever marketer to dub the anthuriums "volcano plants."

Whenever I go to Hilo, the wife puts freshly cut anthuriums on my "bring back" list. And apparently she's not the only one, because I see a lot of them being carried on carefully when passengers load up on the plane in Hilo.

Call them whatever you want, as long as you know what they're really called.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mini-Maleness

As if men don’t have enough of women making jokes about the way we act with our buddies, have you ever seen how the male Y chromosome compares to the female’s X chromosome? Here … take a gander:

It’s well known in genetic circles that the Y chromosome has continued to diminish in size because feminine characteristics have always been necessary in women to ensure preservation of the species. After all, men ARE attracted to females with womanly characteristics, right?
So DNA with male characteristics has always been protected, and are not swapped with female DNA when ovum fertilization takes place. It’s kind of like the Y chromosome erected an impenetrable castle wall around its male DNA to protect it. The female X chromosome does the same thing, but protects fewer DNA.
(Females reading this are undoubtedly smiling, concluding that at last they have proof of their influence over us males.)
Much of the male’s DNA became dispensable, so they slowly were shed. Consequently, male Y chromosomes have only 27 genes in the “no-swap” castle, while female X chromosomes have 790. (Those darned, gene-hoarding female X chromosomes!)
The thing is, the Y chromosomes have continued to shrink. And every man knows that shrinkage is not a good thing ... I'm just saying ...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What's In a Fish Name?

Ugly fish usually have ugly names. But when you rename them and don’t sell the fish whole to the consumer, they can become quite popular seafood items.

We eat a lot of orange roughy and Chilean sea bass, but if they were listed on the menu with their commonly used names, who knows how unpopular they may suddenly become. And, in actuality, there was a time when they indeed WERE referred to by their previous common names:
Orange Roughy: Hopiostethus atlanticus, was once known asSlimehead.”

Chilean Sea Bass: Dissostichus eleginoides, was once known as the “Patagonian Toothfish."
Gray Grouper: Mycteroperca microlepsis, was once known as “Gagfish.”


Grenadier: Macrourus berglax, was once known as the “Rattail Fish.”
I didn’t know that. And I didn’t know how ugly these fish really are.

Oh yummy! I kid you not.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Keeping the Beat in CPR

I remember my first CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) class many, many Earth cycles ago, and how we were told to alternate chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth breath resuscitation. And, I remember how some were getting light headed using that technique.

After all, it’s almost like talking while jogging. You need the oxygen yourself to sustain your muscular activity, and believe me, constant chest compressing takes quite a bit out of you if you’re the only one doing it for a victim.
A few years ago, that changed. It’s now acknowledged that the heart compressions, if aggressive enough (i.e., pump hard) can be sufficient.
But then, how is one to know how fast to compress? The answer is … Sing.
Staying Alive, the Bee Gees' 1977 disco song popularized by the opening scene following John Travolta in his famous Saturday Night Fever strut, has 103 beats a minute, pretty close to 100 compressions doctors recommend when administering cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Just make sure you call 911 first. And get someone to relieve you from time to time. And sing until the EMTs get there.
Here’s another song with approximately the same beat, but it’s not recommended – Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust.
Hmmm, I wonder why?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Where Hawaii Ranks 10

Hawaii is sometimes the paradise that everybody imagines. And, it sometimes is just the opposite. That’s why it’s so interesting to compare Hawaii and Honolulu with other U.S. metropolitan areas and other countries.

Most Expensive Rent (Center for Housing Policy, 3rd Quarter 2011)
1.       San Francisco, CA ($1,833/two-bedroom)
2.       Santa Cruz, CA ($1,730)
3.       HONOLULU, HI ($1,702)
4.       San Jose, CA ($1,702)
5.       Suffolk-Nassau, NY ($1,661)
Most Expensive Home Ownership (Center for Housing Policy, 3rd Quarter 2011)
1.       San Francisco, CA ($585,000)
2.       New York, NY ($450,000)
3.       San Jose, CA ($443,000)
4.       HONOLULU, HI ($425,000)
5.       Santa Ana, CA ($395,000)
Keeping New Year’s Resolutions (Livability.com, 2011)
1.       HONOLULU, HI
2.       Fort Collins, CO
3.       West Des Moines, IA
4.       San Jose, CA
5.       Provo, UT
Top Cruise Destinations (Cruise Holidays 2012 Cruise Trends)
1.       Caribbean (59.88% of bookings)
2.       Europe (11.47%)
3.       Alaska (6.7%)
4.       Bermuda (4.7%)
5.       HAWAII (2.78%)
Top Windsurfing Spots (Forbes.com, 2002)
1.       Wellington, New Zealand
2.       Lac Bay, Bonaire
3.       Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
4.       The Outer Banks, North Carolina
5.       HO’OKIPA, MAUI, HAWAII