Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Stella Awards, Part 2 of 2

The Stella Awards … outrageous examples of the judicial system gone horribly wrong. Yesterday I posted the 4th- through 7th-place winners.

Today, it’s time for the top three awardees.

Third Place

Amber Carson was awarded $113,500 when she sued a Philadelphia, PA, restaurant because she slipped on a spilled soft drink, causing her tailbone to yield to the hard floor and crack. The Lancaster woman got away with one, didn’t she, because she and her boyfriend had been having an argument. About a half-minute earlier, in a fit of anger, SHE THREW HER DRINK AT HIM.

Second Place

The owner of a night club was sued by Kara Walton of Claymont, DE, after she fell from a bathroom window to the floor and knocked out two of her front teeth. The jury said, “Pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses.” Never mind that the was trying to sneak out through the window TO AVOID PAYING THE $3.50 COVER CHARGE.

First Place

If you see Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, OK, driving a Winnebago, better stay out of her way. She sued Winnebago and got $1,750,000 plus a new motor home when the one she was driving for the first time ran off the freeway and crashed, overturning and injuring her. Sounds reasonable, until you’re told that she has set the cruise control at 70 mph, got out of the driver’s seat, walked back into the Winnebago AND MADE HERSELF A SANDWICH.

She blamed Winnebago for the accident. After all, the company never said in the owner’s manual that the driver had to stay behind the wheel while on cruise control. And you know what? Winnebago actually made a change in their owner’s manual … um, in case she wanted to buy her husband a new motor home? 

(Aren’t You Glad It’s The End?)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Stella Awards, Part 1 of 2

Maybe you don’t remember Stella Liebeck of New Mexico, but she’s had such an effect on your life. She’s the one who sued McDonald’s because she got scalded with hot coffee. See, while riding in her grandson’s car, she took the cover off, put the cup between her knees, and … yikes! So she sued McDonald’s (what?) and in a seemingly strange verdict, won $640,000.

I found her picture on Google Images, but will refrain from using it here … can’t be too careful, you know, she just might sue me.

The Stella Awards were named after her … And the 2013 awards have been released. Here are the 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th place winners. I’ll share top winners with you the day after tomorrow.

Seventh Place

A woman, Kathleen Robertson, broke her ankle when she tripped over a kid running inside an Austin, TX, furniture store. Funny thing is, IT WAS HER OWN KID. The unfunny thing is, she was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers.

Sixth Place

When his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda, 19-year-old Los Angelino Carl Truman sued him. He didn’t notice there was anyone behind the wheel … WHEN HE WAS TRYING TO STEAL THE HUBCAPS. Truman was awarded $74,000 plus medical expenses.

Fifth Place

Terrence Dickson of Bristol, PA, had to survive for eight days on a case of Pepsi and a bag of dry dog food when he was trapped in a garage with a malfunctioning door opener. So, he sued the homeowner’s insurance company. He said he suffered mental anguish. So what’s the big deal with his $500,000 mental anguish award? HE WAS TRYING TO BURGLARIZE THE HOUSE and entered through the garage.

Fourth Place

This guy, Jerry Williams of Little Rock, AR, got $14,500 plus medical expenses because his neighbor’s chained beagle bit him on the butt. He might have gotten more, except the jury was a little skeptical. After all, wouldn’t any dog get angry if you did what he did? HE HAD SHOT THE DOG REPEATED WITH A PELLET GUN.

(To Be Continued)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting Tipsy With Tippi

I was wandering around the bakery next to the Tides Wharf Restaurant in Bodega Bay, just checking out the neat stuff they had on the shelves. We never get to see these things in Hawaii, y'know ... especially the locally produced wines.

One of the displays just yelled out my name and yanked me over to the bottles on the shelf. There on the labels was Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. They're pretty obsessed with that movie in Bodega, as you can imagine.

The horror-suspense movie was filmed there, and made the place famous. Ms Hedren herself was the subject of the 2012 movie, The Girl, about Hitchcock's obsession with her during the filming of her movie debut.

So there she was, four bottles of her looking sultry, but definitely Tippi and not tipsy.

The Tippi wine is bottled by Windsor Vineyards for The Shambala Preserve and The Roar Foundation, which was founded in 1983 by Ms. Hedren. The preserve, established in 1972 as a sanctuary for big cats, is located in Acton, California, near Antelope Valley in Los Angeles County.

Hiding in the bottle behind her lovely visage is a 2010 California Zinfandel.

And no, I didn't buy a bottle. We're not wine-drinkers.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Panty Ranty

Women in Russia are angry and they’re not going to take it anymore.

You might even say they have their panties in a bunch.

Why? Because soon, they won’t be able to buy the lacy, synthetic lingerie that they’ve become accustomed to since the Soviet Union fell.

And it’s not just Russia. It’s Belarus and Kazakhstan too. Anything less than 6% cotton can’t be imported, made, or sold in these three countries.

That will leave the women with only frumpy, unflattering cotton underwear to wear under their sarafans (well, okay, I know they don’t wear these anymore, but I couldn't resist the mental image the long pinafores evoke).

So this week, Kazakhstani women staged a protest – they carried signs, shouted “Freedom to panties!”, and … wore lace underwear on their heads.

According to the Russian Textile Businesses Union, 80% of the $4 billion worth of underwear sold in Russia each year. And as do the unions here in Hawaii and the United States, they want a bigger slice of the pie. Can’t say as I blame them. Any union member should empathize.

Have La Perla intimate wear and Victoria’s Secret seen their hey-day in Russia? Not yet, their products are flying off the shelves in lingerie stores because the ban won’t go into effect until July 1.

Things sure have changed in Russia. The women are no panty-waists anymore.

I kid you not.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Where Hawaii Ranks 25: Expensive Weekend

This is just out … so I tore up the Left Field Wander page and reset it to bring you this startling news: Hawaii resort hotel room rates are high. So high, in fact, that five of the 10 most expensive rooms are located in my state.

We’re talking average room rates for the week of Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), through the Presidents Day weekend just ended, according to the booking site,

Here’s the way we ranked:
  1. KIHEI, MAUI, HI ($416 a night)
  2. Vail, CO ($402)
  3. Key West, FL ($399)
  4. WAILEA, MAUI, HI ($359)
  5. Sanibel Island, FL ($329)
  7. Islamorada, FL ($319)
  8. Aspen, CO ($299)
  9. POIPU, KAUAI, HI ($296)
  10. KAANAPALI, MAUI, HI ($289)

Now … aren’t you glad you stayed home this past weekend?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mid-Way Olympic Thoughts

We’re just past halfway through the XXII Olympic Winter Games being held in Sochi, Russia; the quadrennial spectacle’s closing ceremony is this coming Sunday. So it’s a good time to reflect on some thoughts I’ve had about the past week or so.

If You Don’t Win, Blame the Equipment

The U.S. speed skating team isn’t doing so well, and has been unable to bring home any medals in their events.

But wait, weren’t they supposed to do well? Weren’t Shani Davis and Heather Richardson supposed to burn up the track and bring home medals?

The team (as of Saturday morning) was a dismal 0 for 7 in medal attempts.

So … they’re changing their racing suits. They’ve been wearing new, state-of-the-art ones designed by Under Armour. They’ve decided to go back to their old ones, sending Under Armour into a frantic updating of the old racing suits.

In sports, when you don’t win, you start blaming the equipment – baseball players look at their gloves when they boot a chance, football players look at their gloves when they miss a pass, tennis players inspect their racket when they miss a return.

Well, what about the obvious? What if the skaters from other countries who won medals were simply better than the Americans? Has anybody thought about that?

Luge Racing Isn’t That Scary

At least, not when you compare it to skeleton racing. In the luge event, the racer lies on his/her back on a teeny little sled and careens feet-first down a long and curvy ice track, reaching speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. Scary enough, for sure.

But there’s a scarier race – the skeleton, introduced a dozen years ago in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. It’s basically the same as the luge, except that the rider is on his/her belly, chin about an inch off the ice, flying head-first down the track.

If you’ve ridden a roller coaster, you know fear is magnified when you can see ahead to what’s coming up. Now just imagine you’re going head first and your face is about to be rubbed off on ice.

Required: A skeleton-specific helmet and a sturdy and strong chin guard.

Skiers Are Crazy

Snowboarders are nuts. Who in their right mind would do what they do?

Twisting and somersaulting high in the air, ending with a controlled fall and expecting to land feet first so they can head up to the other side of the half pipe to do it all over again.

Ski-jumpers are also nuts. Sliding straight down a long slope to an upward-curved ramp that sends them flying high into the air, flying upwards of 600+ feet before landing, hopefully safely and not breaking any bones.

Personally, I like it right here with my feet on the ground.

* * * * *

Finally, I wonder how Bob Costas’ eye is doing?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Phone Pix 18: Gray Scale

Every now and then, especially when it comes to lifeless inanimate objects, I like to mess with my smart phone pictures by turning them into black and white images. It's the only time I manipulate my phone pix, by the way (just so you know).

There's something quite beautiful about gray scale pictures, kind of like watching old black and white movies. Film noir, for example, would not look good in color. War movies ... I like black and white war movies (more dramatic).

Here you are. Enjoy.

Irrigation Pipes, Fremont, CA, Sept. 20, 2013

Old Shack, Bodega, CA, Sept. 24, 2013

Antique Grape Press, B.R. Cohn Winery, Sonoma, CA, Sept. 24, 2013 

Animal Sillouettes, The Original Pancake House, Fremont, CA Sept. 27, 2013

Park Bench, Houge Park, San Jose, CA, Sept. 29, 2013

Table Wheat Display, Hash House a Go Go Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV, Dec. 10, 2013

Tangerine Tree Trunk Knot, My Driveway, Jan. 22, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It Pays to Pay Attention

If you want to do something and your favorite TV program is on, say if you want to hang something in a bedroom closet and the lights are dim, you still have to pay attention.

One morning, I needed to get a shirt from my closet, so I slid the door open and saw this:

Sorry, I couldn't help it. I fell on the bed laughing. Then, I picked myself up, wiped up my dribbling nose, and called the wife in to see what she had done the night before.

Ahhh, life can be so much fun.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Amazing Bitch

I am, of course, talking about a dog. Why? What were YOU thinking of?

This is GCH Afterall Painting The Sky, or "Sky" for short. She's a wire fox terrier, and last night, she won "Best of Show" at the 138th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York.

What a dog!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How You Can Tell

In a couple of emails that my friends sent me recently were lists of situations that help you determine (as if you didn’t already know) if you’ve adapted to the modern age, or if you’re just old.

I’d like to share some items from each of the lists. So … here we go.

How to Tell if You’ve Adapted
  1. You’ve tried to enter your PIN on the microwave.
  2. You haven’t played Solitaire with real cards for a long time.
  3. Every TV commercial has a web address at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Your family of three has 15 phone numbers.
  5. If you leave your house without your cell phone, you panic and go back to get it.
  6. You send emails or instant messages to everyone, including someone who sits next to you.
  7. You go online before having your first cup of coffee in the morning.
How to Tell If You’re Just Old
  1. You didn’t taste your first pizza until you were 21.
  2. You didn’t have a telephone in your bedroom when you were a teenager.
  3. The television went off the air after midnight.
  4. Movie stars kissed with their mouths closed.
  5. You remember Green Stamps, blue flashbulbs, Studebakers and Howdy Doody.
  6. The family sedan had a headlight dimmer switch on the floor.
  7. There was no such thing as soccer practice.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Where Hawaii Ranks 24

Fat, fat, who’s got the fat? Hawaii ranks in the five states lowest average obesity in two different surveys. Who to believe? Who to believe?

Least Obese States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011)
  1. Colorado (20.7% of adults)
  2. HAWAII (21.8%)
  3. Massachusetts (22.7%)
  4. New Jersey (23.7%)
  5. California (23.8%)

Lowest Obesity Rates (Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2012)
  1. Colorado (20.5% of adults)
  2. Washington, D.C. (21.9%)
  3. Massachusetts (22.9%)
  4. HAWAII (23.6%)
  5. New York (23.6%)

Lowest Obesity, Low-Income Preschoolers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011)
  1. HAWAII (9.2% of children age 2-4 years)
  2. Colorado (10.0%)
  3. New Mexico (11.3%)
  4. Idaho (11.5%)
  5. Montana (11.7%)

Highest Mortgage Closing Costs (, 2013)
  1. HAWAII ($2,919)
  2. Alaska ($2,675)
  3. South Carolina ($2,658)
  4. California ($2,639)
  5. New Mexico ($2,566)

Lowest Affordability of Homes (Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, 2013)
  1. Hong Kong (14.9 times the gross annual median income)
  2. Vancouver (10.3x)
  3. HONOLULU (9.4x)
  4. (Tie) Australia and New Zealand (5.5x)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Creepy Sleepy Peepy

Let’s just pretend you’re a student at Wellesley College, a 233-year-old institution of higher learning, exclusively for women, located 12 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts. It boasts nearly 37,000 alumnae and a current enrollment of 2,300 students.

(Guys reading this will have to change their point of view.)

Okay, now just imagine it’s after sundown and you’re walking by yourself, and you see this ---->

It’s an almost-naked guy, wearing nothing but briefs (Hanes? Jockey? BVD?), arms extended and most assuredly freezing his acorns off,. Would you creep out? Would you think it’s a zombie? Or a guy walking in his sleep? Again, would you be creeped out?

Quite a few Wellesley students were/are. In fact, there’s a petition asking admins to get rid of the damned thing, and if not, then at least put it inside somewhere. “Sleepwalker” is a painted bronze sculpture by Tony Matelli, as part of his solo show at the Wellesley’s Davis Museum called “New Gravity.”

The sculpture and its placement are supported by museum director Lisa Fischman, so the chances of it being moved are quite nil.

Personally, I think it’s incredibly life-like and amazing work.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Appropriate Casting

Not to be missed – Imogen Poots in That Awkward Moment, now playing at your friendly neighborhood movie theater.

Leave the kids at home, it’s rated “R.” For good reason, I suppose. The sound effects are probably nauseating. Funny, maybe. Maybe even too funny for words. But I have a feeling it may be a stinker.

Imogen Poots in That Awkward Moment. Think about that for a second. An awkward moment, indeed. Maybe it's a good thing they haven't invented "Smell-O-Vision" yet.

I kid you not. And no, I am NOT fart-obsessed.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's Setsubun

Today is Setsubun (SET-sue-boon), the division of the season, the day before the beginning of Spring in Japanese culture.

The Japanese believe it's the start of the Lunar New Year and the perfect time to rid the house of evil vibes that have accumulated over the past year.

No, they don't clean house. They throw beans around. Roasted beans known as mamemaki (MAH-may-MAH-key) are tossed into all of the rooms.

Mame, the Japanese word for "bean," is a homophone for the characters that also mean "ogre's eye." Consequently, when you roast them, you exterminate the ogres.

But you don't just throw beans around. You have to give the ogres a way to escape, and the good spirits a way to enter the house. So you have to open all the doors and windows before "beaning" the rooms.

And, you have to shout, "Oni WA soto!" (OH-knee WAH soh-toh, meaning "Out with the ogres!") and "Fuku WA uchi!" (FOO-koo WA oo-chi, meaning "In with good fortune!").

Finally, for added good luck measure, you have to eat a whole unsliced roll of maki-sushi (MAH-kee ZOO-shee). Make a wish as you eat, facing this year's lucky direction, east by northeast.

Akemashite omedet┼Źgozaimasu!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Phone Pix 17: Flowers

Whenever I'm out and about, one eye is always kept open, scanning around to see if there are any flowers present. Most of time, I find them at home, gardening centers of big box stores, and grocery stores, but sometimes they're right there in front of me when I visit a tourist attraction.

So ... enjoy, because I already did.

Orchids, Costco, Aug. 20, 2013

Floral Bouquet, Beretania Safeway, Aug. 30, 2013

Purple Cattleyas, Driveway, Sept. 13, 2013

B.R. Cohn Winery, Sonoma, CA, Sept. 24, 2013

Home Depot, Fremont, CA, Sept. 26, 2013

Home Depot, Fremont, CA, Sept. 26, 2013

Home Depot, Fremont, CA, Sept. 26, 2013

Home Depot, Fremont, CA, Sept. 26, 2013