Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Double Bubble Passenger Jet

According to the designers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who took advantage of a multi-million dollar NASA grant, this is what you may be flying in 2035:

That's a mere 20 years from now, and the "Double Bubble," as it's been labeled, is expected to use 70% less fuel than a Boeing 737. Plus, it will emit much less nitrogen-oxide, the culprit that causes acid rain. Good thing too, because air travel is expected to double over the next two decades.

The Double Bubble will carry 180 passengers at an airspeed of 433 mph, about 10% slower than a 737. Slower, yes, but not by much. And ooooh, the fuel savings!

Double Bubble ... It ain't no chewing gum.

I read this in Popular Science in the doctor's office waiting room. Sometimes it pays to have a long wait to see the doc.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

How to Raise Your Cuffs

While having lunch at Zippy's Restaurant recently, my napkin fell off my lap, so I bent down to retrieve it. As I righted myself, I happened to look over to the next table and spot the pants cuff of an older man who was talking to an agent of some sort.

Now ... we've all had pants cuff problems before, especially when they're too long and they drag on the floor, or get all frayed in the back because we keep stepping on them with our heels.

Solution? Alter the cuffs. Raise 'em up a bit.

Not this guy. Apparently he just reached over for a handy-dandy stapler and took care of the problem post-haste.

Quite clever of him. But I wonder if he runs into problems if he has to pass through a security-scanner at say the courthouse, or airport?

"Excuse me, sir, but you have to remove the staples from your cuffs ... no, really, you do. Sorry about that. Next!"

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hilo Days: Nature’s Water Pistols

When you were a kid, did you ever roam around the neighborhood, feet unencumbered by shoes or slippers or sandals? Did you ever play barefoot in the grass and rain puddles, slop around in mud, and kick dirt and gravel into piles?

We did. Have you ever discovered something that captured your attention for a long, long time, only to have it disappear from your life, never to be found again?

In my now-defunct website, “Hilo Days,” I wrote about such an adventure … I’ll re-share it with you here.

Dragonfly Nymphs

Sixth grade – that was the year I saw my first and only dragonfly nymphs. There was a blacktop area between the swings and the ballfield [at Riverside School]; it apparently was the base of the old Hilo College that used to stand on the site.

Anyway, a huge puddle about 20-feet across used to form in one corner whenever it rained. And seeing how it rained almost every single day in Hilo, the puddle never dried up. One day, we were walking in the puddle after a hot session of marbles, feeling the mud ooze up between our toes, when I spotted something zooting along in the water.

I bent down to investigate and discovered a number of strange-looking things that looked like underwater crickets. Soon the bunch of us were splashing around trying to catch the little buggers.

What we had found were dragonfly nymphs. Holding one in your hand is like holding a miniature prehistoric beast — those things were ugly! They were brown like the mud, and had this huge, articulated lower lip that they used to catch food (including black little toad tadpoles), sucking the life out of their victims.

If you squeeze them ever-so-slightly, they'll shoot out a jet of water from their butt-side. In the water, the jet propels them to wherever they wanted to go. Out of the water, it's a good, gross way to shoot your friends.

We were chasing around all over the place, squirting each other. And like most kids do, we continued to the point of excess, and used up all the nymphs in the puddle. Nobody ever thought that these were living things we were playing with. Of course, we had killed them all.

That was the only time I ever saw a dragonfly nymph. I've never seen another real-live one since. There aren't that many chances to look for them. I went on a few "nymph safaris" in the weeks that followed, but you they blend in so well with the water bottom that they're practically invisible unless they move.

These apparently should be quite plentiful, since I've seen them advertised as bait in national fishing magazines. But no more in that blacktop puddle.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Where Hawaii Ranks 36

Honolulu is the friendliest city in the U.S., and Hawaii’s the friendliest state in the U.S., according to travel polls.

Unfortunately, it’s the worst state in which to make a living, especially for teachers, who are paid the worst salaries in the nation.

Friendliest City in the U.S. (Travelzoo, 2015) 
  2. New York
  3. New Orleans
  4. Las Vegas
  5. Boston

Friendliest State in the U.S. (Travelzoo, 2015) 
  1. Florida
  2. California
  4. New York
  5. Texas

Worst State to Make a Living (The Cheat Sheet, USA Today, 2015) 
  1. HAWAII (Based on Cost of Living, Housing, State Taxes and Average Net Income)
  2. Oregon
  3. Maine
  4. West Virginia
  5. Vermont

Worst States for Teachers (Wallet Hub, 2014) 
  1. North Carolina
  2. Mississippi
  3. West Virginia
  4. South Dakota

Lowest Annual Teachers' Salaries, Adjusted for Cost of Living (Wallet Hub, 2014) 
  2. South Dakota
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Arizona
  5. North Carolina

Monday, September 21, 2015

Where is Weed, Nevada?

The last time I visited Las Vegas, I did my usual stop at Trader Joe's on Decatur to get some of those delicious mini-biscotti that my mother-in-law loves. And, as usual, I picked up a few bottles of water.

I have no idea why, but I started reading the back label, and was curious to find that the water was bottled either in Olancha, Nevada, or Weed, Nevada, two odd-sounding places I'd never heard of.

So I looked them up. Especially Weed, which seemed like something I could write about in this blog.

There is no Olancha, Nevada. Olancha is actually a town in California, and it's where Crystal Geyser water is bottled. It's in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, not far from a hot springs called ... "Dirty Socks."

I could find nothing about Weed, Nevada, or Weed anywhere, for that matter.

The "Olancha" 06148 ZIP Code does not exist, and the "Weed" 06119 ZIP Code is actually in West Hartford, Connecticut.

All of this strikes me as being deceptive, no?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New Inexpensive Watch

I have two good watches: A Rolex and an Accutron.

I don't care that much for the Rolex, because I either have to wear it all the time to keep it wound up, or I have to reset the time whenever I use it. But the wife says it give me class (and we all know how much of THAT I need).

So I put it aside to wear only on special occasions, because it's quite heavy.

I love my Accutron. It's slim, light, and runs on a battery. I only need to mess with it once every few months when the month has fewer than 31 days.

Unfortunately, it began running slow, so we took it to a jewelry shop watch repair person who replaced the battery. It worked good for a few months, then the battery died. We took it back to the jeweler, who toyed with it for a day or so, then returned it in running condition.

A couple of days later, it died again.

I always wear a watch when we go out of the house, so I went to Long's Drug Store (CVS Pharmacy) and shopped for a cheap one to tide me over for a while. I had a $10 coupon, found one I liked for $49.99 that was on sale ($10 off), used the coupon, and got a terrific bargain.

It's a solar-powered watch. All I need to do is get it in the light to continuously charge its batteries. See the tiny pattern on its face? Those are the solar thing-a-majigies that soak up the light. The bedroom light works well too.

This is the watch I wear now. The wife doesn't think I look classy any more.

The Rolex is still sleeping safely, and the Accutron's battery turned out to be old, having sat on the shelf too long before it was installed in my watch. It's since been replaced by a different watch repair store.

Tempus fugit.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Archimedes Screw

My grandson and I were watching a kid's science program on Roku about Archimedes when I was struck with a silly thought.

Where do inventors get their inspiration? I think wives have a lot to do with it – today, and in ancient times, like when the Greek Archimedes was alive.

You may have heard of the "Archimedes Screw," which is used to transport water to a higher elevation. The principle is now used to run wind turbines that generate electrical power.

Here's what may have happened, short and simple:

It's unknown if Archimedes was married, but for the sake of my story, humor me and let's just was that he might have been. If he was, and I like to think he was, his wife must have been a nagger, always on his case.

"Bring in some water from the well! And while you're at it, do something and make a name for yourself!"

One day, aggravated to the point of almost blowing his top and losing his water, Archimedes ran out the front door, slammed it shut behind him, and screamed at the top of his lungs, "AHH, SCREW IT!"

Screeching halt! Light bulb!

And that, my friends, is the genesis of the Archimedes Screw.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Phone Pix 53: Marina Market in Fremont

When in Fremont, we usually do some of our grocery shopping at Ranch 99 Market in the Warm Springs District. However, that may change, as we were told of another Chinese supermarket in the same area: Marina Grocery Market.

Before heading to Oakland the day before our flight back home to Hawaii, we stopped by Marina to check it out. Enjoy these phone pictures that I took that day (Aug. 24, 2015).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hawaiian Air First Class Meal Reboot

Again, we were lucky in trying to upgrade a flight from Oakland to Honolulu on Hawaiian Air. All the first-class seats were taken when I checked in 24 hours before our flight, but when I inquired at check-in, hallelujah! Two adjacent seats had opened up.

Anyway, since I've written about Hawaiian's first class service before, I decided to skip it this time.

However, they recently reorganized their first-class meal service, and the brunch entrèe they brought out was pretty impressive. So much so that I just had to take a photo and talk about it.

We were served a gorgeous Asparagus, Mushroom and Tomato Frittata, accompanied by a mildly spicy Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Fried Rice. Isn't it a beauty? Not only was the presentation beautiful, it was all delicious. The eggs were airy and fluffy, the asparagus was nice and crunchy. What a creamy delight.

The frittata was preceded by a small Apple Danish and a bowl of fresh melons, pineapple, and strawberry.

Of course, we had dessert: Warm Chocolate Cake with an oozy fudge center. Sinful. Simply sinful.

Hawaiian Air has added five outstanding Hawaii chefs that will create dishes under the supervision of Executive Chef Chai Chaowasaree, owner of Pacifica. Our frittata was created by Chef Jon Matsubara of Japengo Restaurant.

Awaiting their turn are Shelsom Simeon of Mala Wailea and MIGRANT, Lee Ann Wong of Koko Head Cafè, Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant, and Andrew Le of The Pig and The Lady.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mission San Jose

In the three years I've been visiting my grandson in Fremont, California, I've always said I was going to visit Mission San Jose, which is located Fremont, just a couple of miles from my son's house.

Of course, a good intention always seems like forever to fulfill. But not this time. I made it a point to visit the historic mission.

Just arriving there and parking was interesting. The wife was driving there for the first time ever, and she did a good job. I didn't have to squinch my butt even once. We parked on the street in front of the mission, but wondered if there was a parking lot. It turns out there was one, but it wasn't the missions ... it was for the nunnery.

After driving all over the place behind the mission, we ended up in the very same parking space on the street.

Entering through the gift shop, one encounters all kinds of religious items on sale – crucifixes, prayer beads, books, Biblical statuettes, cross pendants, St. Christopher medals, Bibles of course, shawls and kerchiefs, ornaments, Virgin Marys ... what you would expect.

Step through a small doorway (they sure we're short then) and take a self-guided tour. There are a number of rooms filled with Ohlone (oh-LONE-nee) Indian cultural items, missionary artifacts, old furniture, religious icons and more and more historical stuff than you can shake a stick at.

Then, return outdoors and take a walk over to the mission chapel itself. It's as dark and reverent inside as it is sunny and bright outside. Just what you'd imagine an old Spanish church to be – dark pews and walls punctuated by an occasional mini-altar, dominated by the main altar on the opposite side of the entrance.

Step back into the daylight through a side door, wander the garden, toss a few coins in the fountain, say hello to Father Junipero Serra, and there you go, all done ... we spent a good hour or so nourishing our souls.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Hometown Touch

While driving north on Blacow Street on our way to Cabrillo Park Cafe on Stevenson in Fremont, I spotted a street sign that reminded me of my home town.

Hilo, of course, is where I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. Population 43,263 (2010 U.S. Census), it's the fifth-largest city in the United States, area-wise.

That reminds me. I should visit Hilo one of these days soon and see how much it's changed in the last dozen years or so since I last visited.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Night the Circus Came to Town

We all went to see the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus the first weekend we were in town to visit our grandson and his parents. It was in mid-August, at the Oakland County Oracle Arena.

Unfortunately, it was a Friday night, when the St. Louis Rams were visiting the Oakland Coliseum to play the Oakland Raiders in an NFL preseason game, creating one helluva traffic jam on the freeway, feeder streets and parking lot (the Raiders won 18-3, by the way).

We were unable to park close to the Oracle Arena and had to hoof it and puff our way for I'd say between a quarter and a half mile to the entrance. It was a very, very long walk and I was prepared to suffer a stabbing back ache every step of the way.

However, I must have looked pathetic trying to keep up, and a nice guy on a golf cart asked if the wife and I wanted a ride up the hill to the entrance. Oh hell yes! So we hopped on board, hailing the other three in our party and telling them to join us. Luckily, it was a five-seater, and we all enjoyed a relaxing ride through three-quarters of the parking lot, up the hill to the entrance.

I gave the guy an outlandish tip, of course.

It's been a couple of decades, at least, since I'd been to a circus, and I'd forgotten what fun it was. The wife and I piled our grandson high with outlandishly expensive souvenirs, my son bought armfuls of outlandishly expensive cold drinks and snacks, and we marvels at the amazing exploits of the performers all night long.

They had it all (well, almost) – Ringmaster, clowns, performing elephants and marching camels and scampering dogs (what, no lions?), a dozen "trained" tigers, tumbling acrobats, skilled skateboarders, mini-bikers (ouch, one fell), beautiful human cannonball, talented jugglers, unbelievable sword swallowers, daring aerial performers (what, no trapeze?) and amazing high-wire walkers.

Some of the performances (like the guy running on the outside of a spinning wheel) gave me the squinchies.

Here are a few more of the dozens of pictures I took that night:

It was quite the exhilarating night!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Turkey Rafters

During our April trip to Fremont, our turkey sightings suffered a new low in dry spells. You may recall we only saw two turkeys during our 14 days in the East Bay city, and the only picture I came home with was a crummy out-of-focus shot of a turkey sitting on a fence. 

We were luckier this time. Two days after our arrival, four turkeys were doing a turkey trot across the street from my son's house. Snap, snap! Pix! This was the first time we saw turkeys in front of the house; usually they are pecking around the grassy ravine in the back.

They were all jennys and hens, perhaps some jakes. I saw no toms.

A couple of days later, we saw a rafter of about a dozen-and-a-half turkeys in one of the grassy areas alongside the access street as we drove by, of course, camera was not at the ready. But that was a big bunch and unfortunately, I didn't have my camera ready.

  • Rafter: A group of turkeys, aka a "gang," aka "flock"
  • Hen: Female turkey
  • Jenny: Young female turkey
  • Tom: Male turkey, aka "gobbler"
  • Jake: Young male turkey

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fatherly Advice 5 of 5

These wise bits of advice from a father to his unborn son were posted on Facebook. I think I was meant to share it with you. There are 100 of them by Walker Lamond; I’m sharing them, 20 at a time. 
  • You are what you do. Not what you say.
  • Learn to change a tire.
  • Be kind. Everyone has a hard fight ahead of them.
  • An hour with grandparents is time well spent. Ask for advice when you need it.
  • Don’t litter.
  • If you have a sister, get to know her boyfriend. Your opinion is important.
  • You won’t always be the strongest or fastest. But you can be the toughest.
  • Never call someone before or after 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Buy the orange properties in Monopoly.
  • Make the little things count.
  • You’re never too old to need your mom.
  • Know the words to your national anthem.
  • Your dance moves might not be the best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun than sitting on the bench alone.
  • Smile at strangers.
  • Make goals.
  • Being old is not dictated by your bedtime.
  • If you HAVE to fight, punch first and punch hard.
There are a few meant for girls: 
  • Always wear a bra at work.
  • There is a fine line between looking sultry and slutty. Find it.
  • If you make the decision to wear heels on the first date, commit to keeping them on and toning down  how much your feet kill.
This is the last of the advice. It’s good advice. Heed them all.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fatherly Advice 4 of 5

These wise bits of advice from a father to his unborn son were posted on Facebook. I think I was meant to share it with you. There are 100 of them by Walker Lamond; I’m sharing them, 20 at a time.
  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
  • Know at least one good joke.
  • Don’t boo. Even the ref is somebody’s son.
  • Know how to cook one good meal.
  • Learn to drive a stick shift.
  • Be cool to younger kids. Reputations are built over a lifetime.
  • It’s okay to go to the movies by yourself.
  • Dance with your mother.
  • Don’t lose your cool. Especially at work.
  • Always thank the host.
  • If you don’t understand, ask before it’s too late.
  • Know the size of your boyfriend/girlfriend's clothes.
  • There is nothing wrong with a plain t-shirt.
  • Be a good listener. Don’t just take your turn to talk.
  • Keep your word.
  • In college always sit in the front. You’ll stand out immediately. Come grade time it might come in handy.
  • Carry your mother’s bags. She carried you for 9 months.
  • Be patient with airport security. They are just doing their job.
  • Don’t be the talker in a movie.
  • The opposite sex likes people who shower.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fatherly Advice 3 of 5

These wise bits of advice from a father to his unborn son were posted on Facebook. I think I was meant to share it with you. There are 100 of them by Walker Lamond; I’m sharing them, 20 at a time. 
  • Don’t make a scene.
  • When giving a thank you speech, short and sweet is best.
  • Know when to ignore the camera.
  • Never gloat.
  • Invest in great luggage.
  • Make time for your mom on your birthday, It’s her special day too.
  • When opening presents, no one likes a good guesser.
  • Sympathy is a crutch, never fake a limp.
  • Give credit. Take blame.
  • Suck it up every now and again.
  • Never be the last one in the pool.
  • Don’t stare.
  • Address everyone that carries a firearm professionally.
  • Stand up to bullies. You’ll only have to do it once.
  • If you’ve made your point, stop talking.
  • Admit it when you’re wrong.
  • If you offer to help don’t quit until the job is done.
  • Look people in the eye when you thank them.
  • Thank the bus driver.
  • Never answer the phone at the dinner table.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Phone Pix 52: Cinnamon's at the Ilikai

Although the food was a bit disappointing at Cinnamon's Cafe in the Ilikai Hotel situated on the edge of Waikiki, they did have some mighty nice art decorating the restaurant.

So I can't chalk the visit up as a loss. These phone-cam pictures were all taken at Cinnamon's on July 9, 2015. Enjoy!