Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pennies for Your Thoughts

I heard the term, “A penny for your thoughts” on some TV program that was on in the background while I ate breakfast this morning, and I wondered what that value really is today.

The phrase, I learned, was coined by a John Heyward just before the 16th Century (before 1501). At least that’s what the website wiseGEEK says.
So … if we look at how much the penny has devalued in the last 512 years, how much would asking for a thought actually cost you? Frankly, I couldn’t find out. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator (a handy-dandy gadget you can use online) only goes back to 1913.
But I did learn that the purchasing value of a penny in 1913 is now 24¢ today. Which means it costs you 24¢ to buy a thought that only cost 1¢ back then.
Using the CPI calculator, I found out that a penny back when I was a third-grader 50 years ago would be worth 9¢ today.
So … me personally, I’d have to give you 9¢ for your thoughts. And that’s just my 2¢ (er, 18¢) worth.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monday Night TV

While waiting for Under The Dome (one of my "must-see" TV series) to start last night, I watched two CBS half-hour comedies – Two Broke Girls and Mike and Molly.

Two Broke Girls, now in its third season, stinks. The two female leads are irritating, with screechy irritating voices. I could never care about them.
Mike and Molly, also in its third season, is better –  the two leads are believable. They're definitely are not skinny 20-something model-types. She's not gorgeous, he's not an Adonis. Just real believable, y'know? I could care about them.
So what I will remember most about Monday night? A luscious commercial for Victoria's Secret came on during one of the commercial breaks. The beautiful semi-clad women would have been the most memorable part of the commercial, except for one thing.
Victoria's Secret was promoting its "Body" collection of brassieres. And they used an apostrophe where they shouldn't have. Yep, that kind of ruined it for me. Look à
I think they should have eliminated the apostrophe and just added an "s" to the word "Body." That would be more appropriate, I think. After all, an apostrophe is used to indicate possession. Still, it would look awkward, because the plural of "body" is "bodies."
This one is a little complicated. But ... that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 17

There’s not much different since I showed you the popcorn rock project three days ago, but there is some additional crystallization starting to appear. That “bathroom ring” is getting much thicker; hey maybe it’ll expand so much it’ll join up with the aragonite crystals coming out of the dolomite rock?
Whatcha think?
Actually, I think it’s pretty much as developed as it’s going to be. I’ll keep an eye on it and if anything exciting happens further, I’ll let you know.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Funny (To Us) Signs from India 1

You've heard me make fun of Chinese menu misspellings and bad word choices that make us English speakers chuckle all over our lips.

Well, I found some signs from India that will make you laugh. Actually, as far as English is concerned, the words are misspelled, but come to think of it, they are the result of East Indians trying to cater to their English-speaking clients by spelling the words phonetically, as they pronounce them.

Still, with apologies to all those in India who are trying hard, they are funny. Here is the first of four groups of funny signs:


I'll have more at a later date, after I stop laughing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

STL Cardinals Take a Raking

The other night, I was watching MLB Network's "Quick Pitch" with its host, Heidi Watney, who gives us the day's round-up of Major League Baseball games and highlights.

Between game reports, she often does some updating of interesting stats. For example, the other night, she talked about how thee St. Louis Cardinal players (Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter) were in the Top 4 list of National League batting average leaders.

Interesting stuff.

And then ... my eyes just naturally wandered to the "upcoming" reports agenda listed to the right. There at the top was the headline: "Cardinals Raking." Cardinals Raking? Ohhhh, I think they meant Cardinals "RaNking."

Y'know, sometimes it just bugs me when I can't enjoy relaxing and watching something interesting on TV. Typos, misspellings and wrong-word choices just jump out at me.

It's a curse, I tell ya, a CURSE!

UPDATE (July 28, 2013): I just learned that "raking" is a fairly recent (at least I've never heard it before) baseball term used to describe a player or player who's hitting well. Thanks to Montee Wellman, whose hubby, Phil, is a coach for the Springfield Cardinals, the Texas League AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 14

Well, it’s now been two weeks since I began the Popcorn Rock project, and there’s quite a bit of popcorn (albeit yellow) atop the dolomite rock that I soaked in vinegar.
It’s not a real pretty sight. Actually, the nicest crystals have always been the newest ones that pop out from the rock. Then they join up with each other and turn the color of coffee-stained teeth.
What’s really been interesting is the aragonite precipitate that’s clustering about the sides of the bowl. They’re actually starting to grow, like stalagmites.
I’m thinking that by the time this is all done, I might have bowl covered in the white stuff. That wouldn’t be half bad, would it?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hawai'i Gas

Since we were discussing flatulence yesterday, I thought I'd share this logo with you. Hawai'i Gas.

The first thing I thought of when I saw this logo of the company formerly known as "The Gas Company" on the corner card of an envelope that found its way into our mailbox was ... What kind of gas? (As in "who cut the cheese?")

Does that refer to kalua pig gas? Plumeria lei gas? Laulau gas? Pipikaula gas?

Or ... the dreaded Humuhumunukunukuapuaa gas?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gas Pass Blocker

They say there are two kinds of people in this world those who think farts and funny, and those who don't.

I happen to be in the first category, but I can understand why a person would think farts are revolting. So it is that I hold back when I'm in certain situations, y'know, like the Obon service I attended last weekend.

Maybe I should get some of these Flat-D Flatulence Odor Remedies (how's that for an "anti-fart" euphemism?) that are guaranteed to trap the pungent aroma that emanates from the release of digestive gases so full of sulphur and methane.

Flat-D uses activated charcoal cloth that adsorbs the gases, and it's guaranteed to improve your quality of life. Charcoal, huh? Hey, maybe you can save the used ones and reuse them as kindling the next time you fire up your Weber grill?

On second thought, nah. It might explode on you.

But that's another story.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 11

Eleven days since the dawn of the Miyamoto Popcorn Rock experiment began, there’s some significant change under way.
The Vinegar Lake is fast disappearing; it seems the evaporation has picked up its pace. One result of this is the bowl’s inside surface has accumulated quite a bit of what looks like a bathtub soap ring. I presume it’s precipitate that was suspended in the liquid and after floating on the surface, found its way to the inside surface.
That nice formation that was forming at the tip of the rock has kind of morphed into a yellowish couple of globs of marshmallows. But the good news is that other aragonite crystals are emerging from the dolomite.
The lake itself is quite shallow now, maybe three-quarters of an inch deep. The bottom is full of sediment and rock crud, and the acrid vinegar smell seems to be intensifying.
Wonder how much longer I have to wait for it to become beautiful. I’m getting impatient.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Hawaii Ranks 21

The good news is that Hawaii has the most primary care physicians available to help maintain our health. The bad news is, every other category in this post offsets that. When it comes to pleasure craft and highway conditions, Hawaii sucks big time.

Most Active Primary Care Physicians (Association of American Medical Colleges, 2011)
  1. Massachusetts (132 per 100,000 population)
  2. Maine (124.6)
  3. Vermont (124.0)
  4. HAWAII (118.1)
  5. Maryland (117.7)
Fewest Recreational Boat Registrations (National Marine Manufacturers Association, 2012)
  1. District of Columbia (3,017)
  2. HAWAII (14,835)
  3. Wyoming (28,249)
  4. Vermont (30,315)
  5. New Mexico (37,340)
Worst Overall Highway Performance and Effectiveness (Reason Foundation, 2009)
  1. Alaska
  2. Rhode Island
  4. California
  5. New Jersey
Highest Highway Expenditure (Reason Foundation, 2009)
  1. New Jersey ($1,140,039 per state-controlled mile)
  2. Florida ($671,366)
  3. Massachusetts ($661,994)
  4. California ($545,890)
  5. HAWAII ($420,686)
Worst Urban Interstate Condition (Reason Foundation, 2008)
  1. HAWAII (25% of poor miles)
  2. California (24.72%)
  3. New Jersey (17.73%)
  4. Vermont (17.50%)
  5. Oklahoma (13.31%)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dining Room Aquarium

Right smack-dab in the middle of the Queen's Medical Center dining room is a salt-water aquarium that lends an atmosphere of calm that helps humanize the hospital (and anything that does that is helpful, in my book).

Every day that I ate there, I checked the daily specials menu board and aquarium to see (1) if fish were on the menu, and (2) if they were serving fish, was that nice-sized aholehole (Kuhlia sandvicensis) still in the tank.

Frankly, I don't know how I'd feel, or what I'd do, if #1 and #2 occurred simultaneously. Well, my purpose for eating in the dining room has passed, so I'm not going to worry about it any more.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Obon Service 2013

It’s that time of year again, when the wife’s side of the family gathers at Honpa Hongwanji Mission to observe the Buddhist Obon custom of honoring the spirits of our ancestors. Although the season includes Bon-Odori (traditional dancing), our participation usually consist primarily of the religious service.

As a Christian, I can still find time to remember my ancestors through this venue.
Usually, the officiating reverend is of Japanese ancestry; this year, however, we were assigned Rev. Arthur Kauffmann, recently transferred from Aiea Hongwanji.
And, for the first time, I was able to listen to the traditional “Three Vows of Refuge” chant in English, vows that if not kept, may preclude one from true Buddhism. I wish I could remember everything about the chant, but it’s something about taking refuge in Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sanha. If I’ve missed something, please forgive me. It’s the first time I’ve understood what the chanting is about, and I was completely wrapped up in listening.
The thing I enjoy most about the bon service is what the reverends teach us during their post-chant discussions. Rev. Kaufmann talked about the true meaning of the service – it’s not to honor our ancestors, it’s not for us to feel good about them … it’s for us to benefit from their wish that we live good and fulfilling lives.
Their life has lifted ours up; our lives will lift up those of our children, and so forth. So it is with gratitude that we accept what they have to offer. We are what they were.
Namu Amida Butsu.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 7

My Popcorn Rock Adventure is now in its seventh day. This is where a dolomite rock immersed in a Vinegar Lake is slowly turning into aragonite crystals. Things are moving along nicely, albeit rather slowly:

The rock has been shedding some crud, so the vinegar lake is turning a bit brown at the bottom. The rock itself looks pretty neat (about an inch is exposed to air now) and the popcorn is growing.
The aroma/odor/smell is getting more and more overpowering by the day. Just standing there and taking a picture initiates coughing. I can only imagine it must be like working in a pickle or wasabi factory.
I’m thinking about investing in some clothespins for my nose.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oceanography 101

I got this in email and felt an overwhelming urge to share it with you.

Children seem to know more about the ocean in their little fingers than I do in my head. Maybe I should keep these tidbits in mind the next time I have a serious conversation about oceanography:
  • This is a picture of an octopus. It has eight testicles. (Kelly, age 6)
  • Oysters' balls are called pearls. (Jerry, age 6)
  • If you are surrounded by ocean, you are an island. If you don't have ocean all round you, you are incontinent. (Mike, age 7)
  • Sharks are ugly and mean, and have big teeth, just like Emily Richardson. She's not my friend any more. (Kylie, age 6)
  • A dolphin breathes through an asshole on the top of its head. (Billy, age 8)
  • My uncle goes out in his boat with 2 other men and a woman and pots and comes back with crabs. (Millie, age 6)
  • When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean. Sometimes when the wind didn't blow the sailors would whistle to make the wind come. My brother said they would have been better off eating beans. (William, age 7)
  • Mermaids live in the ocean. I like mermaids. They are beautiful and I like their shiny tails, but how on earth do mermaids get pregnant? Like, really? (Helen, age 6)

Hmmm, y'know, Helen, I've often wondered that myself.

(More at a later date, after I complete my online Oceanography 101 course.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Twice is Amazing Luck

A couple of days before the wife checked into the hospital in early June for her procedure, we had breakfast at the Big City Diner in the Ward complex next to the theaters.

On a whim, we each entered the drawing for an Aloha Petroleum gas card at the hostess stand, dropped them in the box, and forgot about them.

A few days later, while the wife was recuperating and out of it in the hospital room, I got a call from my brother-in-law that the restaurant had called to let us know that the wife had won a $25 gas card in the drawing. Before heading off to visit her the next day, I dropped by the restaurant and picked up the card.

The manager on duty was happy that she'd won, because we go there often and he remembers her. The card came in handy and half-filled our Rav4 gas tank.

Now, check this out. A week of so ago, we dropped by the Big City Diner in Kaimuki for breakfast since we had to go to Ka Lei Eggs and pick up some ... well, eggs. Our waiter brought us some entry blanks to fill' I told him the wife had actually won a couple of weeks earlier.

He laughed and said there's nothing wrong with winning again. So I filled in all four with the wife's name, figuring she's the lucky one.

Then, a few days later, we were back and our waitress gave us a couple more entry blanks that I filled out with the wife's name again.

Guess what. A few days later, we got a call that the wife had won a $25 gas card. That makes two! I think we're going to enter again the next time we go there.

Once is lucky, twice is amazing, but a third time's the charm.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 4

The “Dolomite into Aragonite” geology science project (aka the “Popcorn Rock Adventure”) is now in its fourth day, and it’s beginning to show results. See?

There be crystals! They’re starting to form at the peak of the mountain, where about a half-inch of the rock has emerged from the Vinegar Lake. And it looks as though there are more just itching to burst forth when the lake evaporates even further.
Nobody pauses very long at the back door now. Hanging around there can be hazardous to one’s decorum. One whiff of the strong evaporating vinegar and the coughing and sneezing begin.
But hey! Nobody said discovery is painless, right?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Random Musings 21

I was wondering … since I have insomnia, would hibernation be boring?
* * * * *
I’m confused. If I move from Hawaii to California during the summer when it’s three hours earlier over there, would my 5 o’clock shadow become a 2 o’clock shadow? Or would it become an 8 o’clock shadow?
* * * * *
Shouldn’t dogs rub hand sanitizer (e.g. Purell) on their noses after they meet and “greet” new friends?
* * * * *
If I had X-ray vision like Superman, could I give myself a colonoscopy?
* * * * *
If I were a kid and got a part in an R-rated movie, how old would I have to be before they let me see how I did in the movie?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 2

My Popcorn Rock adventure is well underway as I try to form Aragonite crystals from a dolomite I drowned in white vinegar yesterday.

The first thing I noticed on Day 2 was that some tiny foam-like bubbles were coming out of the Popcorn Rock and amassing on the surface of Vinegar Lake, right smack dab in the center. And, the rock surface is beginning to sport white spots. See?

The second thing I noticed was that the Popcorn Rock Vinegar Lake bowl was directly in line with the warm air exhaust of our bedroom window air conditioner. Every time we stepped next to it and opened or closed the back screen door, you could smell vinegar.
It’s as though someone had left a plate of pickles there. Funny I didn’t notice it until afterwards, huh?
Still, there is some progress.
Pickle smell or not, it’s still the best place for Popcorn Rock to bathe in Vinegar Lake. So I ain’t moving it. Unless the rest of the family presents a signed petition threatening to kick me out of the house. Then, I’ll consider moving the project closer to my reading chair.
But then, I’d smell it when I’m lazing and messing with my iPad, so maybe that’s not an option either.

If anything exciting happens in the next 24 hours, I'll update again tomorrow. If not, we'll wait a couple of days. Okay?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Popcorn Rock: Day 1

I’m finally getting around to doing something I’d planned to do in February 2012. Hey, that’s almost a year and a half ago! Seventeen months!

I’d taken a two-day road trip to St. George, Utah, during Super Bowl weekend. My primary purpose was to see Zion National Park, which I would do on Day 2. On the day I arrived, after checking into my motel room and having lunch, I drove over to the Dinosaur Discovery Site and spent an hour or so wandering around the place.
As I usually do when I visit educational sites and museums, I stopped by the gift shop and spotted something I just had to have:
Yep. A “Popcorn Rock.” It’s actually a dolomite that produces Aragonite crystals when it’s immersed in white vinegar. Something that changes into something else? Heck, that’s for me!
Well, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have the appropriate bowl to begin my experiment, so for the next few weeks (whenever I remembered to do it), I shopped for a nice bowl that could not only help me sprout the popcorn crystals, but display it with some class as well.
Okay, so I found a good bowl a few months later. But you know how these things work … I kept the rock in its bag in the bowl in the kitchen and it promptly got buried under some stuff. Until recently. And that’s when I figured if I’m going to do this at all, I’d better get started.
What to do and how to do it? Here, you read for yourself:
I nestled the rock in the bowl, and covered it with white vinegar:

I'll post updates as the project progresses. Grow, popcorn, grow!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Aloha Gives You Gas

What gives you gas? Peppers? Onions? Beans? Milk? Prunes? Broccoli? Bananas?

Well, hold on to your, er, butt. Apparently, "Aloha" (the Hawaiian word for love, goodbye and other deeply emotional feelings), will give you gas. If you're lucky.

Aloha Petroleum wants to give you gas if you win their video contest. You're going to have to look up the details for yourself, because I'm distancing myself from participants who must be lining up to earn their gas.

As for me, I have enough gas. Just ask the wife.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hilo Days: Little Lost Boy

A long, long time ago, probably when I was in kindergarten, I had a pretty traumatic experience that I wrote about in my book of childhood, Hilo Days. Many have shared that story; unfortunately, the free website that hosted it was closed down and I was too cheap to pay the rent on another.

But hey! You get to read that story now.
A Bad Sense of Direction
I once got lost. This happened after Sunday School when I decided to go along with a friend to his parent’s store, just down the street from the Church of the Holy Cross.
The church was located on Kinoole Street next to Lincoln Park. They’ve since moved the church, following a fund-raising effort to build a new one. This took place during my junior high days, but we’ll cover it later on.
Glenn Miyao and I had cut across Lincoln Park to Kilauea Avenue and had begun our adventurous preschool Sunday escapade. All of a sudden – and I really don’t know how it happened, Glenn had disappeared, his family’s store was nowhere in sight. For the life of me, I didn’t know where I was.
Of course, I cried and cried until someone took me into a store and calmed me down. After I told them who my parents were and what my phone number was, they called my parents. Dad miraculously and heroically arrived to swoop me into his arms and take me home.
(By the way, I do remember my old telephone number. These were the days when telephone numbers in Hilo were four or five digits. Ours was 4758. Dad’s office was 51748.)
In retrospect, I wasn’t very far from the church, just about a block or so away, but to a little kid in unfamiliar surroundings, even a mere half block or less is forever. I can only surmise that Dad had gone home after Sunday service, worried sick about me (not to mention Mom).
When we got home, there was Mom, ready to console me and take me into her arms. You just don’t know how much you love your parents until you see them after being lost. I’m sure I gave them ample opportunity in the years that followed to worry about me, but if nothing else, I made sure I never got lost again.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sherbert (?) Skies

I'm not a big fan of local Hawaii television news. Why? Because they can be so doggoned unprofessional at times. Sure, people make mistakes, but they shouldn't, not when their work is seen by thousands every day.
Take for example this screen capture. I took this picture last night of a photograph that KGMB cable Channel 7, the CBS affiliate in Hawaii, aired during its early evening news. It's a beautiful picture taken and submitted to the station by Bert Yasumura that the station labeled as "Sherbert Skies."
Wait ... SherBERT Skies? Shouldn't the word be SherBET? Good grief, they misspelled the word. Wikipedia tells us "sherbert" is an alternate spelling for "sherbet," but you know how inaccurate Wikipedia is. What is it that author Tom Wolfe said? "If it's in Wikipedia, I don't believe it" (or something like that).
Back in the late '60s, when I was at a dinner hosted by my insurance agent friend in California, one of the other guests mentioned an ice cream parlor that he went to called "Herbert's Sherbert." Then everybody cracked up because, as he put it, "It's 'sherBET,' not 'sherBERT'!"

Lemme tell you, I didn't laugh last night. I groaned. Shame on KGMB-TV. If retired news anchor/news director (1966 to 1986) Bob Sevey were still in charge, the mistake would not have happened.

Oh my, I just had a thought: What if photographer Bert Yasumura titled the photograph himself? Well, in that case, the station should have caught it and put the title in quotes.

Either way, the onus is on Channel 9. Shame, shame.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Prunes ... Ah Yes, Prunes

I had a good laugh while reading the Sunday comics this week. Earl Pickles was sharing his prune juice with his grandson, Nelson. Poor guy, that Nelson, he thought Grandpa was drinking grape juice.

The strip reminded me of my Obachan (grandmother) on my mother's side. When she and Ojichan visited us in the '50s, one of the first things I had to buy was a bottle of prune juice. The prune juice helped them with their regularity.

I wondered about that, but accepted that it worked. When they returned to the mainland, they left a partially empty bottle of the juice behind. I tried it, discovered it was okay, then promptly forgot about it.

There used to be a commercial on TV in the '60s (or was it the '70s) with the catchphrase, "Is one enough? Are three too many?" I'd laugh and laugh and laugh, flashing back to old people having a dose of their natural laxative. Then in the '80s (I believe it was), I read an article about the California Dried Plum Board trying to change the image of prunes. They eschewed the word "prunes" and called their product "dried plums."

You know what? Prunes work. About six months ago, I decided to give them a try, and now buy them in large containers.

And I can verify that three are not too many. In fact, it's the perfect number.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Where is San Salvidor?

The truth is, there's no such place as "San Salvidor." At least, not in one of the Mike Hammer episodes I've been watching at night. (See how I segue right into it after talking about the DVD series yesterday? Clever, huh?)

I did a Google search for "San Salvidor," and it kept popping up results for "San Salvador." On one beach vacation site, a reader asked about San Salvidor in the Bahamas. So I checked "San Salvidor Bahamas." No such place. I went to the official Bahamas website, and lo and behold, there's a "San Salvador Island" there.

In the 1959 Mike Hammer episode, "Save Me in San Salvidor," Hammer actually travels to the Republic of San Salvador in Central America.

So obviously, the person who prepared the title for the episode doesn't know his "A" from his "I" when it comes to a Spanish place name.

I wonder if he got fired for this. I mean, after all, it WAS on national television and has now been perpetuated on DVD.

And why am I cursed with this ability to spot typographical and word-use errors?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer

I’ve gotten into old television series, especially those that are featured on DVD, and most especially those that come in a complete series package.

In the past, I’ve bought sets of sci-fi series that lasted only one season, and of detective stories from the 1940s and 1950s.
My most recent purchase (actually a few months ago) is Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer starring Darren McGavin as the private investigator. He’s a rough sort of guy, cocky and quick to punch a perpetrator bad guy in the face. Every episode has at least a couple of fisticuff scenes.
There were only 78 episodes to the entire series, which ran in 1957-1959. They’re only a half-hour long (actually 22 minutes), and are in black and white … Hey, we didn’t have color TV in the ‘50s; not many people did. Why, when I was a kid, I used to walk a mile to school in the sno—… er, never mind.
The series got a lot of criticism, not only for the violence, but also for the horny manner in which Hammer was attracted to the women he came in contact with. Many is the time when he kissed them during their first meeting, and you know that by the end of the show, he’s going to be going out with them.
A new woman every week … that’s pretty manly of the guy. It’s said that Hammer actually emulated Spillane’s personality.
One character was recurring – Police Capt. Pat Chambers, played by Bart Burns. They worked pretty closely together, often in a kind of unspoken competition, albeit relying on the other to watch their backs.
It’s a fun series, not real expensive, and guaranteed to provide fun entertainment when it seems there’s nothing good on any of the television channels. Heck, even with cable there are times when I find absolutely nothing I want to see.
What a jaded world I live in.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It’s So Quiet, Where are All the Crickets?

Like a bolt out of the blue, it struck me last night that it was pretty quiet outside. The neighbor’s dog had stopped barking and the streets were empty.

That’s usually when one hears crickets. Usually, but not last night. And then it struck me that I hadn’t heard crickets in a long time, years perhaps.
I used to hear them a lot, and in fact, they used to drive me nuts. I’d even find them in the house and have to catch them and put them outside. After all, isn’t it bad luck to kill a cricket in the house? Now, why is that? I mean, crickets are aggressive little buggers.
They remind me of tubular cockroaches (if there’s such a thing). And they do eat each other. I remember smashing one once while I was positioned on my throne (if you know what I mean); couldn’t be expected to get up at the time, y’know. When along comes another one that starts nibbling on the smashed one.
Eww. That wasn’t nice to see.
But, I digress.
Where are all the crickets anyway? It was one of those things that you don’t really think about, and don’t realize is missing.
You know, like a pain in your hand that suddenly, and without your noticing it until a few days later, just goes away all by itself. Out of sight, out of mind. Like that.
Then, I realized why I’d thought about crickets around my house at that particular time. I was watching the movie Arachnophobia and the main character, Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels), had remarked that he hadn’t heard crickets for months.
The reason? There’s this big mutant spider from Venezuela that’s mated with a local spider and produced ravenous, mega-toxic offspring that’re wiping out the vermin (and cricket) population around his home.
And that begs the question: Do we have toxic starving spiders around MY house?

Friday, July 5, 2013

New Zippy's Tenant

One day last week, whilst having breakfast at Zippy's McCully restaurant, I noticed some dried stalks of grass waving around on top of a light fixture at the entrance to the restaurant.

Then, I saw a tail moving about.

So, as I went out the door when our meal was done, I checked it out. It was a small Zebra Dove nesting. It must have already laid an egg because it was just sitting there and refusing to move.

Let's see now. It usually takes from 14 to 17 days for a Zebra Dove egg to hatch. Which means if I go back in a couple of weeks, I'd better not order scrambled eggs. One never knows ... one just never knows.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Congratulations to Erik Svetin

Here’s a young man with a promising future. Erik Svetin, the son of one of my former colleagues, is an entering freshman at Molokai High School, and was named Hawaii merit winner in the 2013 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

His science project examined how a baseball would perform if it had an extra row of stitches in it. Check out the video that he made:

I’m not sure Major League Baseball is ready for this super-action alteration to their baseballs, but you have to admire Erik’s curiosity and reporting skills. Plus, as a sports fan, he’s looking at doing more research and development like this – new bat, new helmet, new catcher’s gear.
You go, Erik!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Our Wedelia

Along the embankment supported by a stone wall at the back of the house is a remnant patch of plants with small, yellow, daisy-like flowers.

They're wedelia (Wedelia Acapulcensus), commonly known as "creeping oxeyes." Pretty creepy name for such a beautiful flower, huh? The name honors the German physician Georg Wolfgang Wedel (1645-1721), a professor of, among other things, botany.

Anyway, the flowers are related to sunflowers.

When I was working at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply as a community relations specialist, I used to talk a lot to the landscapers who knew everything from hedges to poinsettias, from hibiscus to wedelia. They were extremely knowledgeable and some of the friendliest guys around.

Anyway, they used to tell me how people would come up to them after they trimmed the Board's wedelia bushes, and ask for the cuttings. The plant is so hardy that if you bury the cuttings under a light layer of fertile soil and keep watering them, they'll take root and flourish.

The wedelia in our embankment used to cover the entire area, but like any water-loving plant, if you don't keep it watered, they'll wither away. That's what happened to ours. We live on the side of an old cinder cone and the soil just leaches away when it rains, thanks to the gravel and cinder beneath it.

However, as a testament to its hardiness, it still pops out every now and then during the rainy season.

Glory be to the wedelia!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Green Again: Ripening Fruit

Getting up early and walking around the back of the house yesterday to watch my grandson play in the wading pool that his father so graciously blew up, I had a chance to check out the pomelo (jabon) and strawberry guava trees that I hadn't seen in a month or so.

The jabon are getting pretty big. There must be a couple of dozen on the tree, and they're about the size of a jumbo softball (you know, the ones with a 20-inch circumference). Although they're still green, some are beginning to show a hint of yellow.

Give 'em a couple of weeks or so, and they'll be turning yellow, ripe enough to pick and devour.

The strawberry guavas are ripening and if we don't pick them every day, they drop to the ground as bird food. Now, these guava aren't really sweet and in fact, they're pretty tart. But if you get enough of them, mash 'em up and strain out the seeds, you can make a pretty tasty guava jelly or jam out of them.

That's because they lend flavor to all that sugar you have to use. It's pretty good, but I'm lazy and haven't made guava jam in decades.

Then, there's the Pirie mango tree. Many fruit have survived the wind and rain lashings of the past few weeks, and they too are getting big. In fact, we picked the first of the season as soon as it turned red and yellow.

Of course, I didn't partake. I don't like the cloying perfume of the fruit. But the wife was in seventh heaven as she peeled it and cut it up for the family (and my son, who was visiting with my grandson from the mainland).

Jabon, yes! Strawberry guavas, well, maybe. Pirie mangos ... er, no thank you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Now That's a Steal

Okay, so there I was, watching the Velocity Channel one night last week, a process-wonk series called "How Stuff Works," when I saw this factoid during its program, "Steel."

I do know steel isn't cheap, but did they really get it at a steal? Or did they lift it when nobody was looking? If you steal enough steel, can it really support the expenses that an Army tank generates? Like food and housing and toilet paper?

Was the steel really a steal? ... Or did they have to turn on the still?