Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Rain is NOT Rain

Screen Capture of July 30 Hawaii Radar Map
- The Weather Channel
 One look at yesterday's weather radar on The Weather Channel's website (weather.com) would almost convince you that there's a lot of rain coming down just east of the islands. But if you’ve been to any Waikiki beaches, you know it’s been nice and sunny out there.

In fact, that's not rain. That's chaff – clouds of small, thin pieces of aluminum used as defensive countermeasures by warships, in this case, ships from Pacific Rim nations (and others) participating in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) currently underway off Hawaiian waters.
This year, participating nations include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.
They do things like practice sinking ships, torpedoing, testing new vessels, technological exercises and other good stuff like that.
Anyway, back to the chaff. During the exercises, they release a lot of chaff that’s designed to confuse the enemy, who is fooled into thinking the readings are ships or aircraft when it’s actually just a bunch of rubbish in the air.

Monday, July 30, 2012

USC’s Olympic Athletes

Once again, my alma mater – the University of Southern California – tops the list of college student athletes participating in the quadrennial Olympic Games. This year, 40 past, present and future Trojans are representing USC, the United States and other countries at the Games in London, more than any other university in the nation.
Along the way, since 1904, USC athletes have won 262 medals (123 gold, 78 silver and 61 bronze). If USC were a country in itself, medal count would rank us 17th in the world. If you only counted gold medals, that would rank us 12th.
This year, 12 Trojans are competing in swimming, another 12 in track and field, 10 in water polo, two each in volleyball and beach volleyball, and one each in soccer and cycling. In addition to the United States, Trojans will be competing for 17 other countries.
On Sunday, USC graduate Clement Lefert won Gold with France’s 400m freestyle relay team. That extends USC’s streak of winning gold medals in every summer Olympics since 1912. Junior Vladimir Morozov won a bronze as Russia placed third in that competition.
Past Gold-winning alumni include:
·         Edgar Ablowich (1932 Los Angeles Olympics, 1600m relay)
·         Bret Barberie (1988 Seoul, baseball)
·         Lee Barnes (1924 Paris, pole vault)
·         Ken Carpenter (1936 Berlin, discus)
·         Rex Cawley (1964 Tokyo, 400m hurdles)
·         Roy Cochran (1948 London), 400m hurdles and 1,600m relay)
·         Clarence "Buster" Crabbe (1932 Los Angeles, 400m freestyle)
·         Bill Craig (1964 Tokyo, 400m medley relay)
·         Janet Evans (1988 Seoul, 400m IM, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle)
·         Bud Houser (1924 Paris, discus and shotput; 1928 Amsterdam, discus)
·         Lisa Leslie (1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, basketball)
·         Pam McGee (1984 Los Angeles, basketball)
·         Cheryl Miller (1984 Los Angeles, basketball)
·         John Naber (1976 Montreal), 100m and 200m backstroke, 800m freestyle and 400m medley relays)
·         Parry O’Brien (1952 Helsink and 1956 Melbourne, shotput)
·         Raphael Osuna (1968 Mexico City, tennis doubles)
·         Bob Seagren (1968 Mexico City, pole vault)
·         Rebecca Soni (2008 Beijing, 200m breaststroke)
·         Randy Williams (1972 Munich, long jump)
Limited space precludes listing the many, many others who have won Gold, Silver and Bronze, as well as those who competed but didn’t win any medals. It should be said that even some of the aforementioned took part in Olympic events in addition to those listed, and won other medals as well.
But one and all, they were, are, and always will be … Trojans. Fight on!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Social Media Addicts

As you know, I attended the Public Relations Society of America Hawaii Chapter Koa Anvil Awards dinner Thursday night to see my longtime friend and protégé Amy Hennessey honored as the chapter’s annual Gregg Perry Award recipient.
The people at my table were the epitome of social media enthusiasts, or as I have often referred to them, “addicts.”
As soon as everyone was seated at our table, waiting for introductions so the food could be served, the smart phones magically appeared and every single person started posting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
~ Photo by nonstop Honolulu
Two more people joined the group later and the first thing I saw them do was take out their smart phones. Amy, who sat to my right, also had hers out.
What could I do? I did the only thing any “with it” guy would do. I whipped out my smart phone, snapped a picture of Amy and posted it on my Facebook page. Because I'm with the in-crowd. I’m no stodgy fool … yet.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Divas with Tiaras

Two of my favorite people played the part at the recent Public Relations Society of America Hawaii Chapter’s Koa Anvil Awards dinner, and I couldn’t resist – I had my picture taken with them.
At right is this year’s awardee, Amy Hennessey, APR. In the center is 2005’s awardee, Shawn Nakamoto, APR. At left is … well, it’s me.
The tiaras just cracked me up. I hadn’t seen anything this amusing at a Koa Anvil Awards dinner since 1991 awardee Andi Simpson, APR, was “crowned” with one of those long, twisty balloon things created by a circus clown. That year, the theme was “the circus,” and we had hot dogs and popcorn for lunch.
Go Divas!

Friday, July 27, 2012

She's an Inspiration

Every now and then, something happens that makes one realize that one’s work has not been in vain.

Case in point: Last night, a former student of mine – Amy Hennessey – received the Gregg Perry Award of the Hawaii Chapter, Public Relations Society of America, for her lifetime of work in the field.

A lifetime of work ... and she's still young. That in itself is not surprising to me, for Amy has always been stellar in everything she did.
What was surprising was the tribute she paid to me in her acceptance speech. Full of inspiring emotion, it was the deepest kind of gift a person can receive, thoughts from the heart, delivered after years of hard work that I apparently inspired in her.
Amy recalled my talking to her class at the University of Hawaii, a talk that moved her in the direction of public relations as a major. In the years that followed, she took classes from me, achieving excellence each time. She even called me from a national meeting of the student society to ask my advice on whether she should run for a national office.
Everybody in Hawaii public relations knows Amy, and she’s become an inspiration to others, particularly young people … which is exactly what I’d hoped would happen with my students and other young professionals that I've mentored over the years.
Speaking a bit selfishly, Amy is a legacy of mine, I live on through her work. Her young charges are her legacy, but now they are partly mine as well. They may not know or have heard of me, but I live on through them.
Amy took my quotation cards to heart, she even quoted me last night, and as far as I’m concerned, she can use them all (particularly this one) as her own from this point on:
No matter what you’re doing, it’s not enough. Do more, and do it better.
That’s exactly what she did. Congratulations, Amy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Taken (Again)

I just finished watching the 2002 television mini-series, Taken, a multiple-generational saga of three American families swept up in the alien abduction phenomena that began in the 1940s and continued to present day (2002). The 10-part, 14.5+ hour miniseries aired on the SciFi Channel (now called the SyFy Channel).
This was the third time I’ve watched Taken, thoroughly enjoying it once again. The center of the story is a 9-year-old girl, Allie Keys, played by the very young (at the time) Dakota Fanning. Although she doesn’t appear until the sixth episode, her narration serves to tie the events together. She does a marvelous acting job, by the way.
Allie is part alien, the result of a union between her great-grandmother and a survivor of a UFO crash that prompted all the talk about UFOs, government conspiracies, Groom Lake, Area 51, etc., etc., etc. Allie’s mother is Lisa Clarke, daughter of Jacob Clarke, the progeny of the alien and Sally Clarke. Her father is Charlie Keys, the son of Jesse Keys, who along with his father had been abducted several times.
Members of a third family – the Crawfords – spent much of their time trying to discover just what the intentions of the aliens are. Owen Crawford, the family patriarch, had tried to make sense out of an artifact he found at a crash site, using whatever means, nefarious or otherwise, to find out what was going on. His son, Eric, and granddaughter, Mary, carried on his work.
There’s more … a lot more, but if you’re interested, what you really should do is buy or rent the series on DVD. I promise you won’t be disappointed. You’ll be intrigued, saddened, educated, elated … and I guarantee your heart will be touched more than once in the course of the series.
In a way, Taken is almost Biblical. Comparisons can be made between Allie and Jesus, with correlations drawn with Lisa and Charles (Joseph and Mary), the abducted (Apostles), the Army officers (occupying Romans). Lisa and Charles flee persecution, taking Allie with them, and arriving in Lubbock, Texas (Bethlehem). It’s all so very deep and intriguing.
I wish Stephen Spielberg would produce a sequel, for as Lisa tells Charlie at the end, Allie's coming back someday.

"My mother always talked to me a lot about the sky. She liked to watch the clouds in the day and the stars at night. Especially the stars. We would play a game sometimes, a game called "What's beyond the sky?" We would imagine darkness or a blinding light or something else that we didn't know how to name. But of course, that was just a game. There is nothing beyond the sky. The sky just is, and it goes on and on, and we play all our games beneath it."  Allison "Allie" Clarke

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Neologisms 2

About a month ago, I posted a list of neologisms (newly coined words that aren’t in common usage). You may recall that “neologism” is based on the French word, néologisme, which came into being in 1734.
Here are a few more neologisms that were submitted to The Washington Post in its annual neologism contest. The Post encouraged its readers to submit new meanings for everyday words.
These were some of the winners of the contest:
·         Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
·         Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
·         Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
·         Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
·         Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
·         Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
·         Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
·         Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
Just like the previous list, these made me chortle out loud. Again, thanks, Beverly for sending them to me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pearlridge Hall of Heroes

One thing about being retired … I find myself taking in events and checking out displays that I normally wouldn’t cotton to. Things like the Pearlridge Center’s summer displays.

Sometimes they’re pretty interesting – like the giant insects display a few years ago, the dinosaur animatronics, and the Ice Age mammals last year (was it last year already? I’m losing track). This year, they featured the “Hall of Heroes,” paying homage to comic book heroes.
I have to say it was okay. Nothing great, not real exciting. It’s mostly a static display of pictures.

Downtown featured a few Batman memorabilia … the Batmobile, for example, which was formed off the original Batmobile molds used in the 1966 television series starring Hawaii’s own Adam West. According to the specifications, it weighs 5,500 pounds, is a smidgen longer than 17 feet, and is four feet in height. There also is a small display case of Batman stuff, including Robin’s uniform.

Uptown’s big feature is the Super Train, which at $3 a head chugga-chuggas little kids no taller than four-feet around a cityscape constructed of printed boards simulating buildings and Marvel Comics super characters. A few other interactive displays are offered, as well.
Iron Man

The Hulk

I have to say it’s nothing spectacular. It’s something to amuse the kids if you happen to be going to Pearlridge Center anyway, but it certainly isn’t something you’d want to make a special trip there for.

But as I said, when you’re retired, it’s something to do.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Plethora of Anole

Every now and then, I like to take a walk around the house with my eyes peeled, just to see what I can see.

Recently, I saw a lot of brown anole lizards. Now … “brown” is basically a misnomer, because they usually come in a variety of colors other than brown, and often with some distinctive markings. But I supposed they’re called that to distinguish them from the green anoles.
I found four different ones the other day:

These creatures are pretty amazing. They’re often called the “American chameleon” for good reason, they can change their color and skin pattern to facilitate hiding in plain sight.
Neat, huh?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hilo Days: What’s the Buzz?

When you are a little child and experience something for the first time, the memory sticks with you. Such was the case of Hilo’s airplane bridge. The trepidation of crossing it wore off as I grew up, but I thought it important to talk about it in my Hilo Days memories. Here's the little story, as published in my now-defunct "Hilo Days" website:

The Airplane Bridge
There’s a bridge across the mouth of the Wailuku River that we called the “airplane bridge.” After the tidal wave of 1947 devastated the existing bridge, a new one was erected. The difference was the new bridge had a surface like a metal grating so that if there ever were another tidal wave of such magnitude, the water would pass through and not take the bridge down.

It must work because the bridge is still standing today. Of course, no tidal wave has hit the downtown Hilo area near the Wailuku River with the force and destruction of the 1946 wave.
The bridge was always kind of spooky. Whenever the car would cross the bridge, it would kind of shimmy almost imperceptibly from side to side. I always felt we were going to skid right off and into the ocean.
The bad part of the experience was that you knew you had to cross the bridge again when you came back to Hilo town.
And the noise! What a noise! It sounded like … well, like the propellers of an airplane – like the DC-3s that used to fly between the islands.
Bz-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z. I remember slouching down in the car seat, not wanting to look out the window, afraid of the sound, squeezing because of the shimmy, wondering when the traverse was going to end.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Driver's License Renewal

This week, I renewed my Hawaii driver's license, which was due to expire on my birthday in October. It's something that needs to be done every few years, and this was the year to do it. Me, and the wife.

I checked the Dept. of Transportation's website to find out exactly what I needed to bring with me. In the past, all I had to do was bring my old license with me and turn it in after taking the eye test.

The rules have changed. All renewal applicants must now provide evidence of "legal presence," in my case, either a birth certificate or an unexpired U.S. passport. I brought my passport with me. I also had to provide my Social Security number, not just the number, but an official document with the number on it (e.g., my original Social Security card, or my original Medicare card with the number).

No problem. I brought all that stuff with me. My first attempt, however, was a bust. Since we were at Ala Moana Center, we went to the Satellite City Hall there. Oops, they don't issue driver's licenses there.

No problem. The next day, we went to the Satellite City Hall at the downtown Fort Street Mall, under King Street. Application filled out, check. Eye test, check (I did have a small problem reading the small numbers, but apparently satisfied the clerk that my vision was okay). Renewal fee ($40 for eight years), check. Smile for photograph (good thing I shaved that morning), check.

The wife did okay too. Plus she had a bonus. One of the clerks, a former customer of the family delicatessen was there on the job, and she and the wife had a nice visit afterwards. It always feels good when somebody remembers you, and the wife was all smiles afterwards.

They gave us temporary licenses (the top one in the photo above) and punched a hole in the original one. A new plastic one will be in the mail soon, and we'll be able to replace the temp and old one, which they told us to keep together until the new one comes.

But y'know, I still look like a dork in the new license picture.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Two Words Would Have Sufficed

We bought some healthy-sized lamb chops at Costco the other day and I decided to make them for dinner while they were still unfrozen. Too late, the wife had thrown them into the freezer after asking me whether she should.

I'm not going to criticize her for that.
Anyway, I asked her to take them out and thaw them, which she did. Well, almost. They had frozen solid, so she took them out of the freezer bag and had them thawing in front of the fan (by the way, FYI, that technique works very well).
I had found a marinade recipe based on balsamic vinegar and garlic, so I mixed up a batch and wanted to soak the meat, which was still frozen together solid and required a short stint in the microwave so I could separate them.
There was a recently used gallon Zip-Lok bag on the counter that I could use to marinate the chops, and I asked the wife a simple question that called for a very simple answer. The question: "What was in this bag?" The simple answer: "The lamb." Two words. That's all it would have taken.
Her actual answer involved telling me to "Turn the bag over and read what she had written on it. See? It says there in plain writing what's in it. Instead of asking what, why don't you just look on the other side and you can see what I wrote." (Or something to that effect.)
I made the mistake of replying to her, saying all she had to say was "the lamb." Oh my Lord, that unleashed another four-dozen-plus words essentially going over the same thing. So I did what any husband would do. I let her talk herself out before telling her she wasted a lot of breath and was making me light-headed.
Big, BIG mistake. It rewound her monologue. My ears were ringing, but this time, I just kept my mouth shut and proceeded to marinate the meat in that accursed plastic bag while she talked herself out. In retrospect, I should have just taken out a new Zip-Lok right from the start and not try to reuse the old one.
When will I ever learn to just swallow it and keep my mouth shut?
But at least, the lamb chops turned out great.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Singing in the Brain

Okay, somebody tell me, what’s with these dreams I’ve been having lately where I’ve been singing?
On Sunday night, I dreamed I was walking around with a bunch of total strangers, singing “The Impossible Dream” at the top of my voice. We wandered around a medieval village, all dressed up in Robin Hood-like tunics.
Then, on Tuesday night, I dreamed I was in college waiting with a bunch of other guys (we were all clothed, by the way), sitting on benches waiting for our turn in the dorm showers. All of a sudden, we were singing away – “Cotton Fields Back Home,” a song I’ve known since I was a kid.
One thing I have to say. We sounded pretty good with our harmonies.
It all began after I started taking post-procedure antibiotics following my head lumpectomy last Friday. I’ve heard that some medication can cause vivid dreams, and was wondering if that’s the cause this time.
I can’t wait to see if I sing in my dreams again tonight, since it seems to be an every-other-night phenomenon.
“Nobody kno-o-ows … the trouble I’ve seen …”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Less Isn’t Fewer

I seem to be on a semantics and wrong-word choice kick lately. Maybe it’s because I taught newswriting and listening to people talk on television is driving me nuts, or maybe I’m just getting older and more irritable.
At any rate, there seems to be a lot of confusion about when to use “more” vs. “higher,” and “less” vs. “fewer” or “lower.”
Basic rule: When referring to quantity (things you can actually count), use “more,” and “fewer.” When referring to degree, use “less.” When comparing positions, use “higher” and “lower.”
What brings all this to mind is not because I heard the word “less” misused, although that happens all the time. What reminded me was the correct use of the word “fewer.” I saw a sign at the large new Safeway supermarket that almost made me applaud:

Yes! Somebody actually thought it through and came up with the right word choice, a rarity in today’s SMS text-crazy world. Congratulations.

The "fewer/less" choice is probably the one that gives people the most trouble. As I said above, use "fewer" when you're talking about specific items (e.g., "I needed fewer Crayons"), and "less" when you're talking about a comparative degree (e.g., "I needed less color").

Got it? Good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coke Olympics

Somebody put a lot of work into this Coca-Cola display that I saw recently at Safeway Supermarket. I think it's creatively stunning, myself. Everybody knows now that Coke is a "worldwide partner" of the Olympics (that is to say, they donated many millions of dollars for the right to say that). Nothing wrong with that.

Remember the commercial the Seekers sang?

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony,
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company.

In my book, it's on the list of top ten most memorable commercials.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grylt Manoa

I’ve seen Grylt at Manoa Marketplace before; I think they opened last summer. But I never had the occasion or the urge to try them out.
That location next to First Hawaiian Bank has been the bane of fast-food restaurants for a long time – fast-food eateries have just come and gone before I had a chance to try them out. So I guess I made an unconscious decision to see if they could survive for a while before I went there to eat.
After picking up a prescription at Long’s Manoa on Friday, we decided to give it a try. The ambiance is nice and fresh, the help was efficient and courteous (although a little math practice would have come in handy), and the food wasn’t bad.
I had the steak platter – sliced-up Angus steak with grilled veggies, mashed cauliflower, and some Asian fusion sauce. The price was $11 plus 50¢ extra for the mashed cauliflower. The Asian fusion sauce tasted exactly like Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce, (maybe that’s what it was).

The steak was a little tough, but tasty and passable; the grilled veggies included cauliflower stalks, which I thought was unusual, yet nice and crunchy, almost jicama-like; the mashed cauliflower was to die for. I gotta make some soon at home.
The wife had a grilled ahi tuna sandwich with side salad for $9 plus $1 extra for the salad. It was too big for her, so she brought half of it home. She thought it needed to be seared a little more, and that it felt weird eating, as she called it, “a sashimi sandwich.”
Everything comes on eco-friendly, plant-based plates, and they don’t serve you at the table, so I can’t justify running this review on my “A Place for My Taste” restaurant blog. That’s why it’s here.
My take? It’s good! Grylt has two other locations in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza and Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Grylt Manoa: Manoa Marketplace, 2764 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu 96822, phone (808) 988-7832.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unique is Unique ...

... nothing more, nothing less. Nothing else. The word "unique" cannot be modified; it has a singular meaning. It means "one of a kind." ONE of a kind.

And so I was a little disturbed this morning while watching cooking show maven Giada DiLaurentis talk about her recipes. In her opening statement was the sentence, "Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world."

That's like saying "Venice is the most beautifulest," or "Venice is the most hottest." No, I take that back. Those statements are stupid. Her phrase, "most unique" illustrates nothing more than plain ignorance. Something is either unique or it's not. Black or white, no modifier is required.

I think personalities who talk to large audiences that hang on their every word have a responsibility to use proper grammar and speak flawlessly. And that's why I'm so disappointed when TV personalities, headline writers, journalists, teachers, keynote speakers, business leaders, heck anybody, show their ignorance of the language (or perhaps unconcious disdain for the people they're talking to).

People ... Unique is unique. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing else!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lump Gone At Last

Well alrighty, then. The blasted lump on the back of my head is gone ... finally. I had Dr. Adaniya work on it yesterday.

It turns out that the lump wasn't a lipoma (fatty tumor) as suspected. Instead, it was a chronic infection that created some granules that clumped together. What the doctor did was make an incision and dig out the blasted stuff.

Except for the initial shots of novocaine, I didn't experience any pain. Umm, I take that back. About midway through, I did feel some pain so he gave me more numbing shots to take care of that.

A few stiches, instructions to clean it twice daily and make sure I shampoo my hair every night, and a prescription for antibiotics, and I was good to go. I can't tell you how good it feels to have that blasted lump gone from my head.

Thanks for all the thoughts you all shared with me on Facebook.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Today's the Day (Again)

I'm going to have the lipoma lump on the back of my head removed today.

"Wait!" you cry out in astonishment, "Weren't you supposed to have it removed weeks ago?"

Well, yes. But when I showed it to the doctor on June 8, he referred me to a surgeon, who couldn't see me until June 15. Then, when I went to see the surgeon, he looked at it and said he was going to a conference and couldn't see me until early July.

So I made an appointment for July 3 and arrived at his office mentally prepared to have the lump removed. He examined it again and said it would be better if I saw a plastic surgeon who specialized in micro-surgery. Talk about a slump in morale.

Anyway, he referred me to one and I walked right over to see him without an appointment. That was Tuesday, July 3. The plastic surgeon examined me and scheduled me for an in-office procedure today. The office assistant who made my appointment asked me if I was superstitious, because today is Friday the 13th.

Heck, I don't care if it's Judgment Day! I just want the friggin' abnomality removed. I'm thinking of bring a set of handcuffs with me, and handcuffing myself to the operating table so he can't change his mind and postpone the operation.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Random Musings 17

What do you do with a dog that runs away from home all the time to audit obedience school?
* * * * *
Do wild female bears hibernate on the first date?
* * * * *
I wonder why the wife doesn’t use big words. She has the perfect sized mouth for it.
* * * * *
Maybe I shouldn’t yawn too much in public. Deaf people may think I’m screaming at them.
* * * * *
Give me a fish and I'll eat for a day. Teach me to fish and ... Well, I'll sit around in a boat and drink beer all day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One Foot Pigeon

No, not a pigeon 12 inches long. And not a pigeon that looks like a foot. I mean a pigeon with one foot. Sorry if I confused you; it must goes to show how important a little hyphen and an "ed" suffix are in a title. "One-footed pigeon" would have made more sense.

Anyway, I saw this bird while having a smoothie at the International Market Place, resting my tootsies after wandering around the tourist trap with a friend visiting from the mainland.

At first, I thought the pigeon was standing on one foot, ala flamingo, but then it started hopping around the place. Voila! One-footed pigeon.

I wonder if it was born that way. I hope so; I hate to think that it lost its foot somehow. But it seemed to be handling itself okay. Living beings are tough that way ... they adapt.

Gives one faith, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Women ... whatcha gonna do about them? Sometimes, they don't say what they mean, and sometimes, they don't mean what they say. Sometimes even their demands to be left alone are actually screams for attention.

And the rest of us who are totally insight-deficient, must bear the brunt of their rancor.

Women! Or is it just moms? LOL.

Monday, July 9, 2012

World Record First-Pitch Attempt Day

Baseball has some wonderful traditions, one of which is the ceremonial first pitch of the game. Everybody from little kids to war heroes to famous entertainers to U.S. presidents have made that first hurl … some to the delight of the crowds, some to derision.

But … leave it to a minor league baseball team to try and break a Guiness world record for the most first-pitches in a ballgame.
In April 2007, the Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League opened their gates 13 hours before the game was to start … at 6 a.m. … so fans could stand in a long line, each  throwing a ceremonial first pitch. Their target? Break the record of 5,906.
The Manatees are the A-Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and play their home games at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. The park is also the spring training home of the Washington Nationals.
Don’t ask me who held the record at the time, but they still hold it. The Manatees fell a few hundred short of the record. Maybe they should have given free balls to the participants?
I wonder if Manny the Mantee was invited to throw one of those pitches.
I love minor league baseball promotions.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Big New Safeway

Some months ago, a new Safeway supermarket opened up at the site of the old Schumann Carriage car dealership at the corner of Beretania and Piikoi Streets, smack dab next door to an existing Times Supermarket that had been there ever since I can remember.
As might be expected, the state-of-the-art new supermarket immediately started drawing customers away from the Times market, a situation verified by the Times manager, a friend of the wife’s (our family’s okazuya was located across Beretania Street from Times, their employees used to come over for lunch, and the wife used to do her grocery shopping there).
But y’know, one cannot ignore the fact that Safeway is there, and so I’ve been going there on occasion. There’s so much that Safeway carries that caters to my own tastes, especially when it comes to canned varieties I can’t find at Times or Foodland.
I used to do a lot of shopping at Safeway in Manoa, since it’s just a mile or so up the street from our house, and I grew familiar with the place over the many years that I did Saturday cooking for the family. The only problem with the new store is that I can’t find what I want and have to hunt it down (I’m a man, so of course, I don’t ask for directions, instead seeking that glorifying moment of triumph when I find what I’m looking for).
This last time there, I took some pictures to show you what the inside looks like:

More Produce

Seafood and Meats


Like I said, it’s big and the pictures hardly do the size justice. But I can tell you, my feet do. After completing my shopping, they are worn down to stubs.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Hawaiian Blind Snake

I had an exciting experience yesterday … I saw my first Hawaiian blind snake in more than 50 years. Oh, you didn’t know Hawaii had snakes? Well, no matter what you may have heard, or what others have told you, we do. Two of them, in fact.

One of them is poisonous – the yellow-bellied sea snake. But it’s rare and only visits Hawaiian waters occasionally.
The other one is a “brahminy,” aka “Hawaiian blind snake,” a harmless snake that found its way to the islands in potted plants. Found mostly in Africa and Asia, they look like black earthworms that have been on a diet. They’re pretty skinny creatures and could be mistaken for earthworms save for their color, and their dry, scaly skin (unlike the moist reddish skin of a worm).
Ramphotyphlops braminus grows up to 10 inches long, but the one I saw yesterday was about three inches in length. Which means it was a juvenile.
The curious thing about brahminy is that they are “parthenogenic” (all females), the only known snake species that have this characteristic. Hmmmm, I guess being blind puts a crimp on finding a mate, huh? No wonder they spend their time just burrowing around in the dirt and humus of gardens. They apparently eat mostly ant and termite eggs and young. Also curious is the fact that they either lay eggs or bear live young.
The wife found the snake yesterday. She thought it was a young worm, which just goes to show she doesn’t know a lot about worms. Still, she didn’t want to touch it, shooing it onto a large plumeria leaf to show to me. Of course, I let it drop into my hand so I could examine it more closely.
After taking its picture, I placed it on the ground and watched it wiggle its way to some grass. A brown anole lizard immediately pounced on it and tried to eat it, but it wiggled pretty enthusiastically and kept on escaping. I wonder what the anole was thinking. It eventually gave up and the blind snake disappeared.
The first time I saw one was when I was in college. My good friend and roommate, Jim Kuroiwa, and I were walking along in Kaimuki when he stopped, bent down and picked up what I thought was a worm. It was a blind snake, which he immediately identified by its scientific name and showed me its teeny little mouth. Jim, by the way, was an agriculture major at the University of Hawaii, while I majored in skipping class to play ping pong at the dorm.
So anyway, back to the one in our yard. I got to thinking … if there’s a three-inch juvenile squirming around in our potted plants, could there be a 10-inch adult somewhere? Must be, huh?
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
(End of today’s Hawaiian zoology lesson.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Namu Amida Butsu

Every year around this time, I accompany my in-laws to their annual obon festival service, wherein Buddhists pay their respects to their ancestors … in my in-laws’ case, the wife’s father and grandfather. We went last night.
The ceremony is somewhat formulaic: It begins with an introductory address, followed by prayer, then chanting, at which time each family member offers incense to the departed. There is a certain order to this. My mother-in-law, being the oldest, goes first, followed by her eldest son.
He in turn is followed by his younger brother, then his brother’s wife, then his brother’s son. My wife, being the youngest of three children and a woman, goes last, followed by her family (me, my eldest son, and if he’s here, his younger brother). It’s kind of like oldest first, with the protocol being males first.
The incense offering is followed by a prayer, then an address by the bonsan (priest), then the Nembutsu.
The practice of obon began more than five centuries ago, and (in Hawaii, at least) includes a bon odori, or dance by dozens of participants.
I rather enjoy attending the services, as I learn something every time I go – customs, traditions, respect for one’s elders, and this year,  how everybody is connected, which fits in nicely with some of the programs I’ve been seeing on the Science Channel, re life and cosmic matter.
Being a Christian, I don’t participate fully. For example, although I fold my hands palms together, I do not bow my head. Instead, I focus on something in the shrine and talk to my father (who was raised a Buddhist but converted during World War II), my grandmother (who was a lifelong Buddhist), and my father-in-law (also a Buddhist).
I think both my God and Buddha would understand.
Each year, there’s something I take away, some saying or observation that makes sense of my life. Last night’s bonsan talked about connectivity and how even the smallest of contacts can affect one’s life: “The simple brushing of sleeves when strangers pass each other leads to a connection between the two.”
The ceremony ends with the recitation of the Nembutsu with three words repeated many times: Namu Amida Butsu (roughly translated, “Absolute reliance on the compassion of Amida Buddha.”)
Namu Amida Butsu.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, America

Last night, as is our usual practice, the wife and I stood on our second-floor lanai and watched the fireworks being launched from Magic Island, just outside of Waikiki.
It’s our little way of paying homage to the annual birthday of our United States of America on July 4. Sometimes we watch it from someone else’s home, often times, it’s from our upstairs lanai.
As usual, the aerials were stirring and heart-thumping, but what they really did was serve to remind me that this is America, that this is our land of freedom, that the celebration should truly be joyous and heart-felt.
And it was, and it always will be.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fake Ice Cream

There’s something almost un-American about ice cream that isn’t made from cream. I have never been able to get myself to buy this Tofutti stuff. In fact, the very name itself turns me off.
I know soy beans are considered a miracle food to many, and I know it’s healthful, and I know it’s a good source of protein. But no matter how they dress it up, no matter how they manipulate it, it’s still mashed-up beans to me.
Not that I don’t like mashed-up beans (I smash my chili beans in the pot all the time), but I don’t like it when it’s disguised to look and ostensibly substitute for something luscious. I mean, if you’re going to eat ice cream, EAT ICE CREAM!
So there.