Friday, January 31, 2014

Chinese New Year: Superstition Explanations

Here are the promised explanations, re, the Chinese New Year (Friday, Jan. 31) advice I ran two days ago, based on ancient superstitions, per the International Business Times:
  1. House Cleaning before New Year: Sweeping and cleaning should be done before New Year's Day, to remove bad luck from the house. It is also believed that before New Year's Eve, cleaning equipment like brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and others should be put away.
  2. No Cutting: Chinese believe that nothing should be cut on the New Year as it will reflect on one's life and fortune.
  3. Use of Firecrackers: Bursting firecrackers on New Year's Eve is one way the Chinese send out the old year and welcome the new one. Also, it is believed that there was a half-dragon, half-lion monster called "Nian." The creature would come down from the mountains and scare humans every year. So when people discovered that the beast abhorred uproarious commotions, they chose to beat it with the clamor from sparklers.
  4. Guarding Parents: On New Year's night children are expected to sleep late. It is believed that sleeping late is related to guarding parents' life. The later the children sleep, the more years their guardians will live.
  5. Broken Crockery: One should not start the New Year with broken crockery as it is considered to be bad luck.
  6. No Ghost Stories: Chinese believe that whatever happens on the first day of the year will happen for the rest of the year. Using foul language, unlucky words or saying anything awful about others are taboo on the first day. Ghost stories generally talk about death, spirits and negative power, so children as well as elders are forbidden from telling ghost stories.
  7. No Washing Hair: Washing hair on New Year's Day is considered as bad luck, because people believe that hair-washing sweeps away good luck for the New Year.
  8. No Black Clothes: According to Chinese custom, black is related to death and bad luck, so they avoid wearing black clothes on the first day of the year.
  9. No Crying: It is believed that if you cry on New Year's Day you will cry throughout the year. That is why children are not punished on the first day of the year.
  10. Red is Good: Splendid red attire, beautifications and adornments are recommended for the Chinese New Year. Youngsters receive cash in red paper envelopes from parents who wish them a cheerful New Year. Red paper-cuts and couplets of favorable luck or bliss are utilized to brighten the family unit.
International Business Times (

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chinese New Year: Fair Warning

Here are 10 things you should do before and on Chinese New Year (Jan. 31), which heralds in the year of the Wood Horse. Explanations will be forthcoming on Friday, but for now, take my word and:
  1. Clean your house before Thursday then put away all the cleaning stuff.
  2. Don't get a haircut on Thursday.
  3. Light some firecrackers on Thursday night.
  4. Put kids to sleep as late as possible on Thursday night.
  5. Toss broken pottery and dishes before Friday.
  6. Don't tell ghost stories or swear on Friday.
  7. Don't wash your hair on Friday.
  8. Don't wear black on Friday.
  9. Don't punish your children on Friday.
  10. Wear red on Friday.
Superstitions, yes, but they've lasted for centuries, so just do it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Free Coffee Sample

On our last return flight from California to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines, we were given samples of Hilo Hattie's instant 100% Kona Coffee, which I stuck in a drawer and promptly forgot about.

I found them this morning and decided to give it a try.

The verdict? It's okay, flavorful and fairly strong. But it's not really deep and full-bodied, if you know what I mean. There's something quite unsatisfying about pouring coffee crystals into hot water, vis-a-vis smelling it brew in a coffee maker.

So ... thanks for the sample, but I'll stick to my #2 grind Italian Roast from Peet's.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sound Familiar?

Well, it does sound familiar to me. The wife has a big plastic bag full of plastic bags in the broom closet. She uses them for all kinds of stuff. If I toss one in the wastebasket after going shopping, she'll fish 'em out and save them.

I make fun of her all the time, but I do see the logic in what she's doing. And, in a year or so, these things are going to become scarce when Honolulu jumps on the bandwagon and bans plastic bags in stores.

Hmmmm, she might be wiser than I think.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Chevy Pickup

Since we were talking about Fremont, California, the last time you and I visited the other day, let me tell you about another visual experience I had there.

As I was walking back to my car after breakfast at Dina's Family Restaurant in the Irvington District of Fremont, I saw this beautiful Chevy pickup truck in the parking lot. Just had to take a couple of pictures because although I've seen some beautiful old cars before, chancing upon them is not an everyday occurrence.

I tried to find a picture of a similar pickup so I could date the car, but every one I found didn't have that grill protector attached to the front bumper. I'm guessing it was a custom addition the owner put on.

Anyway, the closest I could figure is that it's c. 1950. Anybody out there have other thoughts?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Old(er) Bicycle Club

While having a quick breakfast at the Prolific Oven in Fremont before our two-hour-plus drive to Sonoma Valley, A bunch of older bicyclists came in, obviously taking a break from their morning ride.

I've often seen a lot of bicycle clubbers riding together, but none quite like this group. For one thing, they were older than the usual people I see (I'd guess in the mid- to late-60s). They also had great bikes and great biking clothes and gear.

They didn't order eggs Benedict, as the wife and I were having, but they did load up on carb-rich pastries. They also took advantage of the restroom before filling up their coffee cups. Guess they had to make some room in their bodies for the new intake of food/drink.

More power to them!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hilo Days: Me and My Clown Friend

Sometimes what you do as a child stays with you forever. Things like listening to a record album. I wonder how many kids today even KNOW what a record album is? The 78, 45, and 33-1/3 revolutions-per-minute (rpm) vinyl disks have  gone the way of rotary phones, slide rules, double-edged razor blades and 8-track tapes. 

Still, there’s something quite nostalgic about listening to a scratchy old record on an ancient phonograph. 

I wrote about it in my old Hilo Days website. 

Bozo the Clown 

Remember Bozo the Clown? I do.
We had an old phonograph that we'd haul out occasionally. It was one of those that required winding with a crank and played only 78 rpm records.

I had a couple of Bozo the Clown story albums. "Bozo on the Farm." "Bozo at the Circus." Like that. 

Anyway, I had this memorized and could recite the entire record and turn the pages in the dark. But of course, you just had to wait for Bozo to make that right sound that meant "turn the page." 

My favorite was Bozo on the Farm. The "turn page" signal was the sound of the klaxon traffic horn on Bozo's flivver (jalopy Model‑T car). There's this one part where Bozo finds a bullfrog sitting on a lily pad and asks the frog if he can sing. "Sku! Ah skan sking!" the frog would croak, launching into a glumpity‑glump bullfrog rendition that never failed to crack me up.

When I was in college, we used to have a singing group and whenever I'd mention that fact to someone, they'd invariably ask "Can you sing?" and it took every bit of self‑control I had not to answer, "Sku, Ah skan sking!" 

"Can you sing?" Dumb question. 

Anyway it was fun, especially when the phonograph spring would run down and the voices got lower and slower and even lower and even slower. And if it got that way during the bullfrog segment, I'd consider it a special bonus.

Boy, I loved that record.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Over the Water, Over the Sea

On my last trip to Las Vegas on Omni Airlines International (OAI) ... yep that flight, the one that never made it across the ocean, I astounded the elderly lady sitting next to me when I took a picture of a graphic being projected on the cabin's large screen.

When she surmised out loud that I was photographing it because I was a newbie and wanted memories of my trip, I had to correct her and tell her to look carefully at the picture. It showed our airplane over the water instead of taxiing on the causeway to the Honolulu Airport reef runway.

She looked at me like I was nuts. Well, maybe I was, but the picture sure looks as though we (the red airplane in the middle) were projected to be over the water instead of the causeway, no?

C'mon, admit it. It's weird.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Phone Pix 16: Foliage

Whenever I get the chance, I find it very uplifting to wander about wherever I am and take pictures of foliage. Y'know, trees and shrubs and reeds and grass and leaves and flowers.

Walk down the street and look around. Every tree has a story, every plant has something of interest in it. All you have to do is peer, look at them from every angle, and I guarantee you'll see something you like, be it color, a pattern ... whatever.

The best part about taking foliage pictures with my phone camera? I get to share them with you. Enjoy!

Papaya Trees at Home, Aug. 8, 2013

Son's Fremont Home, Sept. 20, 2013

Cataldi Park, San Jose, Sept. 21, 2013

Benziger Winery, Sonoma, Sept. 24, 2013

Black Angus Restaurant, San Jose, Sept. 28, 2013

Houge Park, San Jose, Sept. 29, 2013

Zippy's McCully Restaurant, Oct. 15, 2013

Safeway Manoa, Nov. 8, 2013

Monday, January 13, 2014

Puns for Educated Minds 2

Here’s the second half of my fun puns for educated minds.

Why “educated”? Because you have to have had some education to catch the nuances of the jokes.

The wife doesn't think these are funny at all.

I don't care ... I love puns, they crack me up.
  • In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes. 
  • When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion. 
  • If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you'd be in Seine. 
  • A vulture carrying two dead raccoons boards an airplane. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.” 
  • Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, “Dam!” 
  • Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Of course, it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too. 
  • Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, “I've lost my electron.” The other says, “Are you sure?” The first replies, “Yes, I'm positive.” 
  • Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root-canal? His goal: Transcend dental medication. 
  • There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Star-Advertiser Wrong Again

Per their history and reputation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser made another egregious error in their newspaper. It's the above headline, which appeared in the morning paper yesterday.

See the error? No, it's not an error of fact, it's not an error in spelling, it's not an error in style.

It's an error in word usage. Repeat after me: "The whole is composed of the parts. The whole is composed of the parts. The whole is composed of the parts." Got it? Good.

Now, repeat after me: "The parts comprise the whole. The parts comprise the whole. The parts comprise the whole." Got it? Good.

Never let it said I don't offer solutions to problems I uncover. Here's the headline again, corrected by me:

No need to reward me, Star-Advertiser, a simple "Thank you" will suffice.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy Day for Braves Fans

Yesterday was a good day to be an Atlanta Braves fan.

Although I don’t usually watch the National Baseball Hall of Fame announcement show when they name the new class elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, I was curious enough this year to tune in.

To the glee of Atlanta Braves fans everywhere, two Braves were elected on their first ballot – right-handed pitcher Gregg Maddux, and right-handed pitcher Tom Glavine. They will be joined on the acceptance podium on July 26 by their manager, Bobby Cox, elected by the Expansion Era Committee last month.
For the record, the three Braves will be joined by new inductees Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox, and managers Joe Torre (also once an Atlanta manager), and Tony La Russa.
I remember watching the Braves on an almost daily schedule when they were owned by Ted Turner, who broadcast their games on TBS. They were basically the only baseball game in town (well, along with the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets). If I were home during the game, I’d tune in. Otherwise, I’d videotape (remember videotape) the game and watch it later at night.
One can’t help but become a fan of Dale Murphy and Bob Horner. Murphy, by the way, didn’t make it to the Hall, slowly dropping in the voting until he dropped off after not being elected in the 15th and final year of eligibility. Too bad. I liked the guy.
I’ve seen Glavine pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers home game, and I’ve seen Cox manage at least three times. Never did get to see Maddux pitch, however. Shucks. But I did follow his outings season after season.
Next year, the third pitcher in the great triumvirate, John Smoltz, will be on his first Hall of Fame ballot. He should be a shoo-in … like his cohorts, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and his coach, Bobby Cox.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Triple Rhyme License Plate

Noticed in the Zippy's McCully parking lot ... this license plate.
At first, I thought it said "Enemy," but on closer inspection, it turned out to be "Eye-My-I" Wonder what prompted that, anyway. It's as though the driver has a slight vision and ego problem.

It's a Toyota SUV, so the owner is probably elderly. I should have gone back into the restaurant, found the owner, and satisfied my curiosity.

Now I guess I'll never find out.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The New Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino

I visited the new Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, situated where the old Lady Luck used to be, during my last vacation in Las Vegas. I'd stayed at the Fremont on a package deal and spent my time in downtown Las Vegas wandering around and having my meals at the nearby casinos and restaurants.

After having my first night's dinner at Triple George on Third Street, I walked across the street to the new Downtown Grand. The place is pretty new, having opened just recently. I wandered around there the first night, and signed up for their slot card.

The slot club attendant told me that since this was my first card there, I'd find some free play on specially marked machines. So I found one of those machines, slid my card into the reader, slipped a $20 bill into the machine, followed the directions on a card I was given, and tried to find the free credits.

Nada. But, I did earn a bunch of credits to be used at a slot tournament there. Nothing to get excited about. I came out a little ahead, but never smelled any of the free credits the attendant mentioned.

I did go back the next day for breakfast at Stewart + Ogden upstairs. I'll tell you about that experience in the Place for My Taste blog.

Friday, January 3, 2014

High Survival Rate So Far

I survived a family gathering on New Year’s Night without getting hurt. It’s 1 for 1 so far this year. Getting hurt on holidays has become a tradition with me, you know.

Last New Year’s Day, I missed a step at my brother-in-law’s house in the dark and scraped my ankle real bad on the concrete step to the driveway. Then, this past Christmas Day, I fell on my cousin’s doorstep and contused my elbow, adding a deep skin-removing abrasion and puncture just below my little finger on my left hand.
The thing is, I really don’t want to go to these functions, but the wife forces me. All she can say afterwards is “I’m sorry.” My reply? “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Thank you, Erich Segal.)
I’ve become more prone to these accidents as I’ve aged. Remember when I fell in the movie theater and inherited a couple of horrible strawberry scrapes on my knees? When I told my doctor about that one, he checked out the scrapes and said, “You have to be careful.”
The thing is, I’m very careful about where I put my feet when I walk. It’s almost like … “left step, shift weight, right step, shift weight” … keeping my eyes on the ground. Still, I manage to step on my toes, or miss a step, or just plain lose my balance.
According to an article in a Hawaii Medical Service Association periodical I just read, when it comes to seniors, half of all falls happen in the home. The most common injury is a broken hip. Seniors who fall account for 5,700 emergency room visits in Hawaii, leading to almost 2,000 hospitalizations.
The good thing about being hospitalized is you get good care. The bad thing is 40% of those who are hospitalized never return home (one-fourth die within a year). Gruesome stats.
Now … outta my way! Outta my way!
* * * * *
You may have noticed that I didn't post in the blog yesterday. With the New Year now upon us, I've made a change. Left Field Wander posts will appear on odd-numbered days of the month, unless there's something timely and the occasion calls for it, or there's something I want to get off my chest right away.
After a little more than five years of daily posts (for the most part), the change was needed.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope I continue to entertain, amuse and give you conniptions.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year Life Lesson

Yesterday, while doing some belated Christmas Shopping and negotiating the crowded  electronics toy section aisles at Target, I overheard a father telling his little boy, "Look where you're going, son, not where you've been."

I thought that was good advice for all the youngsters who were angling for a good position to examine the latest action figure craze, Skylanders. Look back and they risk being creamed in the back of their heads by a shopping cart.
It wasn't until I got home and thought about it more that I realized how profound that off-handed remark really was, and that there isn't much better advice a father can give his son as we segue from a pretty rough 2013 to a more hopeful 2014.
The value of the phrase is punctuated by the news media as they give us "the year that was" lists reminding us of the "top sports stories of 2013," "the top personalities of 2013," "ten things about 2013 we'd like to forget," "top ten life-changing events of 2013," and the like. There's nothing more depressing than reliving, albeit via memories, all of that.
I'm with the dad at Target. Forget what's behind us, and look forward to what's ahead of us this brand new year.