Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Scissors Bites the Dust

‘Way back in 1982, the family took a trip to Japan as part of a son’s band concert trip.

One of my fondest souvenirs was a stainless steel scissors purchased for something like ¥150 (equivalent at the time to maybe 10¢ American). It cut perfectly, very smoothly, and was extremely lightweight.

Used with care, it lasted until just after the New Year before I stupidly cut through a staple and gave it a nick. The poor thing wasn’t the same after that.

Old Scissors on Right,
New Scissors on Left
I could have gone on using it, but that nick always put a snag in the cutting and made me very, very uncomfortable (not to mention feeling guilty for my stupidity).

So when I got a 40%-off coupon for any single item priced at $10 or more at Long’s (CVS) Pharmacy, I looked for a good pair of scissors and purchased it.

My new Westcott titanium scissors was priced at $10.59, and with my $4.24 discount, I only paid $6.35 plus 30¢ general excise tax (a euphemism for “sales tax"), 3.2¢ of which went to help pay for Honolulu's Boondoggle Rail construction.

The titanium, the packaging said, is three times harder than stainless steel. Great! But … the machining isn’t as accurate as the Japanese scissors; the shearing is not as smooth.

Can’t win ‘em all, but at least the Japanese cutter lasted me 30+ years.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Innocent Yet Incredible: Stuck on You

Once again, the juxtaposition of body parts that are not from the same person (or in a couple of cases, an animal) produces some pretty incredible pictures that warrant a closer look.

These are, indeed, incredible final products, no?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kia Rio Rental

I wasn't assigned any kind of funky car when I rented my Las Vegas transportation from Hertz during my recent trip. (Sigh)

This time, I got a plain ol' light bluish-gray Kia Rio sedan. I had to pay attention where I parked the car, and several times hotel valets had to call out my last name, butchering it in the process.

Oh well, it's just humbling not to have a special car. But at least I got to test drive it. I must say it’s a pretty great-handling car with power.  I would buy one, but I'd get a red (or neon green) one that’s easy to find.

I'm getting spoiled.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Bump in the Route

As my Hawaiian Airlines flight was nearing Las Vegas early in the morning on Monday the 9th, I happened to look at the map on the video monitor on the seat in front of me, and lo and behold, this is what I saw:

Somewhere, sometime, in mid-flight, in mid-Pacific, my plane jogged left, then returned to its original course soon afterwards. I say "soon afterwards," but for all I know it could have taken an hour or so to complete the bump.

Did we enter the Twilight Zone? Was there something in our way? Did we have to avoid a rising of the ocean? Or maybe (and most likely), the pilot altered course to avoid a rough pocket of turbulence.

I sure hope that was the case. Good thing I wasn't awake at the time; I might have looked out the window and seen something I wouldn't want to see.

I kid you not.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dog Humor

You know how people sometimes blame the dog when a stinky one is released? You do know the dog knows what the guilty party is getting at, don't you?

Dogs have a sense of humor. Just because they walk around with a silly grin on their faces and a dripping tongue doesn't mean they don't get it.


I'm telling you ... THEY KNOW!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Flight Delay Bonus

The nice lady sitting in the window seat next to me on my Hawaiian Airlines Flight 8 (HNL-LAS) moved up a couple of rows to sit with her sister, whose adjacent seat was empty.

That meant I had an empty window seat next to me so I could raise the arm rest and act like I had a wide first-class seat.


Actually, I was a bit surprised to see quite a few empty seats when the closed the doors of the aircraft (a French Airbus A330, for those of you who are keeping track of these things). I'd checked into my flight at home, and the seating chart looked pretty full. Guess the delay resulted in a few cancellations? Beats me.

Oh well, sometimes God smiles and grants favors. It was Sunday, and maybe He must have thought I'd been a good boy lately.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What? Not Again!

This was déjà vu all over again. Remember my blog posts over the past year, and my experience with flight delays? Well, I had another Hawaiian Airlines flight delay, this time because our plane left late from Los Angeles, consequently arriving late in Honolulu.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight 8, HNL-LAS, was originally scheduled to take off at 10:30 p.m. We didn't go wheels up until 12:08 a.m.

The delay was fine with me, as long as we eventually took off. We were originally due to arrive in Las Vegas at 7:00 a.m., so a delay of an hour and a half was okay. I mean, it's not like I had anything scheduled in Las Vegas, and the Luxor wouldn't let me check in until the afternoon anyway.

The bad thing was that the AC in the waiting room was going full blast and the long wait exacerbated the frigid room. I could hardly feel my ears.

Most passengers at the gate were pretty old, and the restrooms were doing a landmark business. Everybody had their jackets on, and those with hoodies were using them.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Unexpected Reunion

As I went through the TSA Precheck security checkpoint at Honolulu International Airport on my way to my plane and Las Vegas, the TSA agent who waved me through looked at me kinda funny and said, "I know you." That got me nervous; I thought I was in trouble.

It turned out the agent was a good friend from my past – Clive Fujimoto, former production guy at Affinity, Incorporated printing company. I'd located my advertising and public relations company there after leaving the community relations office at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply to strike out on my own.

We pretty much lost touch with each other around 1986 or so, when I moved my office above the Columbia Inn Restaurant in downtown Honolulu, and he went over to Honolulu Publishing for 20 years before switching to Aloha Airlines.

A TSA agent for 9 years now, Clive is in his mid-60s but still had all his hair (black, no gray).

We had a nice reunion and chatted for a while, catching each other up on what's been happening to each other. He introduced me to his fellow agents working the security, and it's a good thing his line wasn't that busy.

You just never know who you'll run into at the oddest places, huh?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Phone Pix 42: Downtown Las Vegas

I've stayed in downtown hotels many a time while visiting Las Vegas, and have taken the occasions to snap a few pictures with my phone camera - both of the exteriors and interiors of the various hotels.

Here's a small collection of downtown Las Vegas hotel/casino pictures for you to enjoy:

Binion's Dec. 11, 2013
Four Queens, Dec. 11, 2013
The Fremont Experience, Dec. 11, 2013
The Fremont, Dec. 11, 2013
Golden Nugget, Dec. 11, 2013
The D, Dec. 11, 2013
Beer Growler, Triple 7 Brewery
Main Street Station, Dec. 12, 2014
Antique Slot Machines, Main Street Station, Dec. 13, 2014

Friday, March 13, 2015

Self-Service for Doggies

On the corner of Vineyard and Liliha Streets in the Kalihi section of Honolulu is a dog-grooming shop called "K9 Style" that offers a terrific service - a self-service dog bath for your pup.

Can't you just see it? Your dog is sitting on his haunches in a tub of sudsy water, raising its left front leg high in the air, and scrubbing its underarm (underleg) with a soapy sponge he's holding. See it?

And the best thing is, you don't have to lift a finger. After all, it IS self-service.

I know, I know, it's stupid and that's not what they meant. But I have to tell you, the sign just cracked me up and I almost got into an accident driving by.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Around the House

One of the first things I did with my new replacement Sony camera was walk around the house. There's always something interesting to see if I only keep my eyes open.

Example 1: There's a big boulder alongside the stone wall in our car turn-around area. It's been there ever since I can remember. There used to be a greenery area near where it now resides, but somehow we rolled it over when the "garden" was paved over. The boulder has resided in its present position for dozens of years.

My mother-in-law is the superstitious type and when someone asked in passing if she'd had it blessed because some Hawaiians believe spirits inhabit big rocks. So she had a guy come over to exorcise it. That was, in my opinion, a joke. But no evil has become us, so maybe there was something to it.

Example 2: We have a tangerine tree that's always threatened to close down the driveway with its heavy branches laden with fruit. So we had one large branch cut off.

The result is an interesting stump once the cut area dried up. Sometimes I go over and just stand there checking it out. It's kind of mesmerizing.

Example 3: There are brown anole lizards galore galavanting in our yard, on trees, under the eaves, and in fact all around the house. We used to have green ones as well, but I guess they've been driven off by the more aggressive brown ones.

I love it when they take an aggressive stance and flare out their red dewlaps from under their throats, bobbing their heads in a feisty challenge. Sometimes they tolerate me sneaking slow up to them; sometimes they haul their reptilian butts away as fast as they can.

Walks around the house sure can be interesting.

Monday, March 9, 2015

New Camera is Better Bargain

I had another good lesson in economics a couple of weeks ago. For some time, my trusty Cyber-Shot DSC-WX80 had a problem – the camera equivalent of retinitis, I think. On the right-center of the image was a small blurred spot.

At first I thought it was on the lens, so I cleaned the lens. Nope. It persisted. So I did what any photographer would do – I took it to the local Sony Service Center to have them check it out.

Two nice fellows there – Leo and Chris – took a good look at the camera, pressed this and that, snapped a few shots, showed it to a couple more service people, and came to the conclusion that it was inside the camera. Maybe moisture, maybe mold. Who knows?

The only way to really find out would be to open it up.

If the camera were inside the one-year guarantee, it would cost me c. $4.00 to fix. Otherwise, it would cost about $94.00 or something like that, and I’d have to wait four to six weeks. Well, the camera was almost two years old, so the $4.00 fix was out of the question; I told them to go ahead and fix it for the higher price and I’d go get a cheap backup camera in the meantime to use during an upcoming trip to Las Vegas.

Leo came up with a better solution – get a new camera; it’ll be cheaper in the long run to do that, in the area of about $169 or so. Chris looked up their Sony model DCS-WX220, which was the newer replacement for the one I had. He went on the Internet and found one on sale at Best Buy for $149.

Best Buy, here I come. My new camera has all the features of the old one, with an 18.2 megapixel picture (compared to 16.2), and a 10x zoom lens (compared to 8x). The only thing is that the new camera is black, and the old one is red (a color I really liked ... oh well).

See? Service techs, when they’re local and not talking to you on the phone from a foreign country, are a great help. Kudos to Sony!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Main Street Las Vegas Repairs

When I was on vacation last December in Las Vegas, downtown's Main Street was being torn up and repaved.

It was quite a chore getting into Main Street Station's valet parking area, as I had to cross over the torn-up section to get my car parked.

The same thing applied to The Plaza, where I had to pull in so I could access the Las Vegas Jerkys, Etc. shop to get some goodies to take home to the family.

One thing I was thankful for was that the noise was at a minimum, as opposed to the freeway traffic hum and railroad chuggles outside my room window. Here's the view from my window, by the way:

Real picturesque, huh? Real noisy too, 24/7, cars, trucks, cars, horns, railroad chugging and whistles. Not the best of environments to get some rest after a long day.

The room itself was okay. Not first class by any means, but fine for a downtown hotel. Not up to the standards set at the Golden Nugget, or The D, by any means, but fine enough for a budget vacation.

I think I've had my last budget vacation with Vacations Hawaii, however.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sen. Inouye's Teeny Library?

If you live in Hawaii, and if you subscribe to the local rag, The Star-Advertiser, you may have missed this. I almost did. See, I didn't actually read the story (I'm a headline reader, as you probably know by now).

But for some reason, egregious errors just pop out at me. Like this huge one in Tuesday's morning newspaper.

According to the article, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's papers are to be stored in a $27.5 Inouye library. I think a word might be missing - like "million"? Gotta be. Otherwise, the newspaper is saying Sen. Inouye costs only $27.50. Either that, or his library is going to cost only $27.50.

That's a pretty small library.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Where Hawaii Ranks 33

Okay, so we in Hawaii don’t listen to a lot of holiday (Christmas) music on radio during the season.

And, we tax the poor pretty high.

But … we have a lot of millionaires, our well-being is pretty high, and we have the best beaches in the nation.

Highest "Naughty" Christmas Spirit (AccuRadio, 2014)
Based on total hours of holiday music listened to, adjusted for population.
  1. New Jersey
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Delaware
  4. Wyoming

Highest Tax Rates on the Poor (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2015)
  1. Washington
  3. Illinois
  4. Florida
  5. Rhode Island

Most Millionaires per Capita (Phoenix Global Wealth Monitor, 2015)
  1. Maryland (7.69%)
  2. Connecticut (7.23%)
  3. New Jersey (7.14%)
  4. HAWAII (6.93%)
  5. Alaska (6.82%)

States with Highest Overall Well-Being (Gallup-Healthways, 2014)
  1. Alaska
  2. Hawaii
  3. South Dakota
  4. Wyoming
  5. Montana

Best U.S. Beaches (U.S. News and World Report, 2015)
  1. Maui, HI
  2. The Big Island of Hawaii, HI
  3. Honolulu, Oahu, HI
  4. U.S. Virgin Islands, VI
  5. Outer Banks, NC

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Phone Pix 41: After the Meal ...

Teasing's my game, and "Belch" is my middle name. So I thought I'd tease y'all with some pictures of my restaurant plates after eating ... and pre-belch.

Enjoy! I know I really, really did.

Korean Chicken Sandwich, Dec. 4, 2012,
Zippy's Vineyard, Honolulu, HI

Reuben Sandwich, Sept. 16, 2013, Kenny's, Honolulu, HI

Tonkatsu Teishoku, Sept. 20, 2013, Yuki Sushi, San Jose, CA

Kalbi Breakfast, Dec. 2, 2013, Big City Diner, Honolulu, HI

Fruitti di Mari, Dec. 10, 2013,
Andiamo Italian Steak House, Las Vegas, NV

Special Rodeo Steak Hash, Dec. 10, 2013,
Hash House a Go Go Plaza Casino, Las Vegas, NV

Ciopinno, Dec. 10, 2013, Triple George Restaurant, Las Vegas, NV

Fried Green Tomato Benedict, Dec. 11, 2013,
Stewart Ogden, Las Vegas, NV
*Belch* ... oops, sorry.