Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It Wasn't Me!

There's a right and wrong time and place for everything. And it all depends on who you're with (and their tolerances).

But I swear, it wasn't me this time!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Making Smart Choices

Whenever the wife and I have to choose something as a couple, I always defer to the wife, albeit sneakily (because I have to avoid all appearance of being condescending).

  • Me: "Wow! Look at those cakes!"
  • Wife: "Amazing! Which one do you like?"
  • Me: "This one, and this one, and this one. Which do you like?"
  • Wife: "I like these two of yours, and this other one. Let's get one."
  • Me: "All right! Which one?"
  • Wife: "Which one do you want?"
  • Me: "Whichever one YOU want!"
  • Wife: "This one."
  • Me: "Great choice!"

See? It took a couple of years, but I finally figured it out: A happy wife is a happy life.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Random Musings 31

Question in search of an answer: How come my fingers don’t move faster when I step on the pedal while playing the piano?

* * * * *

Why do little kids with the most future ahead of them don’t seem the least bit worried about their future?

* * * * *

Since I have a really, really short haircut (a buzzer), why do I have to keep using expensive shampoo instead of just plain ol’ bar soap?

* * * * *

I wonder why my idea for a 100% solar-tanning bed didn’t fly?

* * * * *

When snails get tired, do they come out of their shell? Or do they just get sluggish?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quality Inn Oakland

Whenever we take a trip to Oakland to visit our grandson, we always book a hotel room near Oakland Airport for the night prior to our return flight.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight we take back to Hawaii leaves around 9:00 a.m., which means we used to get to the airport around 7:00 a.m., which means we used to start our one-hour morning rush-hour drive on the 880 Freeway from Fremont at 6:00 a.m., which means we used to wake up at 5:15 a.m.

Much, much too early. Hence, the intermediate lodging near the airport.

Usually, we are able to get a room at the Hilton, but they were all booked up this last time, so we stayed at the Quality Inn instead. It’s a little farther from the car rental center, but it worked out fine.

The room was okay … not bad. It was clean and tidy, and had everything we needed, the TV screen was an okay size, the shower worked, and there was plenty of hot water. The bed was very comfy.

They also served a complimentary hot breakfast in the morning. Scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, waffles, all kinds of cereal, fruit. Juices … just what you need to fuel up for the day.

It’s a good fall-back place for us.

Quality Inn Oakland, 8471 Enterprise Way, Oakland.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Silliman Activity Center and Water Park

We recently had the opportunity to help our grandson, who reached the ripe young age of 7, celebrate his birthday with first-grade classmates.

This year, he hosted them at the Silliman Activity Center and Water Park in Newark, California, a modestly short drive from Fremont, where his family resides.

The Center/Park is pretty impressive. The party itself was held in a terrific little “classroom” with brightly painted walls, tables, chairs and games. From moment one, the kids went wild and joined in the play activities.

After a pizza lunch, we all headed down the hall to the water park. All of the kids plunged into the water, joining the hundred or so kids already there. The parents and hosts had to scramble around trying to keep track of where the youngsters were. It wouldn’t do to have a disaster (although, there were lots of lifeguards around keeping things from getting out of hand).

If I said there were lots of spectacular things to do in the water park, I wouldn’t be exaggerating. It’s amazing, with large slides, a lazy circuitous river, spa, open lap pool, and a kid’s activity pool. We had a special cabana area set aside on the periphery.

Better than talk … pictures!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Where Hawaii Ranks 44: Gambling

Hawaii is tied with five other states with the fewest casinos per capita (0), with six others for fewest gaming machines per capita (0), with five others for lowest lottery sales per capita (no lottery).

Plus, Hawaii is the second-least gambling-friendly state. All this according to WalletHub (2016).

And yet, check out THESE rankings:

Most Gambling-Related Arrests Per Capita 
  2. (Tie) Illinois
  3. Mississippi
  4. Maryland
  5. New Jersey

Most Gambling Problems and Treatment
  1. Mississippi 
  3. Illinois
  4. Tennessee
  5. Maryland

How can this be? Two reasons: Sports betting (the "6-5" is practically an industry in itself during football season), and Las Vegas (we go there a lot).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rap's Hawaii (1982)

I recently re-watched the DVD of Rap Reiplinger's Emmy winning TV special hosted by his Hawaiian-Chinese-Portuguese-Japanese-Puerto Rican-Spanish-et al old man.

The old man (Reiplinger) introduces comedy segments that describe Hawaii locals and their particular dialect, idiosyncrasies and humor.

Although Reiplinger made his career in comedy, he was a troubled young man, dying in 1983 of cocaine-related problems.

Tragedy often boosts a personality's fame, and the same could be said of Reiplinger's so-called "legendary status." Today, fans consider him a comedic genius. I never did, still don't, and probably never will.

I have to say that when I first watched this program 'way back when, I didn't think it was very funny (except for the one called "Room Service," and a few references to frugality). After re-watching, my opinion hasn't changed.

People may say I'm being sacrilegious, but what the hell. I don't think he was a genius, and in general, he wasn't very funny.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Unpleasant Car Rental Experience #2

What? Another unpleasant car-rental experience? What was the first one anyway? Well, if you'll recall, it was the flat tire on the morning we were to drive to Oakland early in the morning to catch our flight. That's the trip where I fell and skinned my knee earlier, and caught a nasty cold.

This second time wasn't so nice either. Our 2016 Ford Fiesta rental from Hertz had its rear window shattered by someone or something on the day we were to drive to Oakland for the night before our flight out the next morning.

It must have been karma that I forgot to take a picture of the rental car as I usually do.

Anyway, the rear window was "spider-webbed" and fell into a million pieces when I closed the hatchback over our luggage.

Good think the Fremont Hertz rental office was a few miles away, close enough that I could drive there, albeit quite self-consciously. The agent was very accommodating and got us fixed up with an exchange without further ado.

We were assigned a 2016 Ford Focus (picture above), which almost looked like the Ford Fiesta.

Two things of note:

1. On our way to the freeway on-ramp, a train pulled into the Fremont Depot just down the street from the Hertz office, stopping traffic for about 15 minutes while passengers jumped off and on the passenger-car that stuck out into Fremont Boulevard. Good thing I wasn't in a rush.

2. That night, when I went to fill the gas tank, I thought I'd lost the gas cap. As it turns out, it's one of those cars without a gas tank cap. What a relief when I figured it out.

I think I've had enough car rental adventures to last me a lifetime.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Phone Pix 67: Restaurant Atmosphere

The decor and atmosphere of a restaurant/eatery can make or break a dining experience, whether or not one takes notice. I usually take notice, especially since I've gotten into the habit of taking phone images. Most of them are art in themselves, from signs to lamps to wall hangings.

Restaurant patrons are very tolerant of me so far, even if I sometimes hover over their table for a second or two. But I find if I'm courteous, it's not a problem. Bless those people! 

Starbucks, April 18, 2015, Fremont, CA

Black Angus, Sept. 29, 2013, San Jose, CA

The Country Way, April 22, 2016, Fremont, CA

Zippy's Makiki Table Setting, March 29, 2013, Honolulu, HI

Panera Wall Hanging, May 1, 2016, Fremont, CA

Panera Wall Hanging, May 1, 2016, Fremont, CA

Panera Wall Hanging, May 1, 2016, Fremont, CA

Panera Wall Hanging, May 1, 2016, Fremont, CA

Panera Wall Hanging, May 1, 2016, Fremont, CA

Panera Wall Hanging, May 1, 2016, Fremont, CA
Black Bear Diner, March 18, 2016, Fremont, CA

Friday, May 13, 2016

Electric Unicycle Rider

While driving home one day, from downtown Honolulu around lunchtime on King Street, about to turn left onto Ward, I had to stop so a guy on a unicycle could cross the street.

It was quite impressive, I must say. That guy had balance and likely had been using his unicycle for some time already. He was casually controlling it by leaning forward and back, from one side to another.

It didn’t look the least bit like he was concerned about falling.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture and description of his specific electric solo-wheel. But in general, those wheels seem to run from about $200 to $1,200. Not too bad if you can handle riding it.

Just think, you can pick it up and carry it with you, unlike the heavy two-wheeled Segway with its handles that will set you back several thousand dollars.

Would I get one? Nah. I just know I’d fall and break bones and lose big patches of skin. Give me a safe ride any day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

No Water Required … Really?

The first and last time I encountered a waterless, no-flush urinal was in late 2009. I even wrote about it in a Left Field Wander post, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where I saw and photographed it.

Well, no matter. What goes around comes around, and I saw my second waterless, no-flush urinal during our Pacific Grove excursion to the Pacific Grove Museum.

No water required. Just pee and see. Felt kind of strange, though, just walking away without flushing. Oh well, I guess they know what they’re doing.

If you want to see my previous post of Dec. 30, 2009, go HERE. There’s an explanation of how it works.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Verge Restaurant Easter Brunch Buffet (Los Gatos)

The Verge Restaurant and Lounge is situated in the Toll House Hotel at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Gatos, Silicon Valley.

It’s a restaurant with lots of class; it’s also where the wife and I joined our Fremont family for a lovely Easter brunch.

The brunch presentation came complete with a gracious Easter bunny host who delighted both my grandson and me by posing for pictures.

The buffet line was set up in an adjacent room with some very tempting offerings. They had the usual offerings, much too much to sample everything. So I did what I usually do at buffets: I made a couple of plates and tried not to make a pig out of myself.

Witness for yourself. This is what I had for brunch:

First Plate: Salad

Second Plate: Entrees

Third Plate: Omelet

Dessert: Demi-Tasse Creme Brulee

What a delightful family Easter brunch.

Verge Restaurant and Lounge in the Toll House Hotel, 140 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030, Phone (408) 884-1054.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Harry’s Hofbrau (San Jose)

I admit I had no inkling of what to expect when I entered Harry’s Hofbrau on our recent trip to visit our Fremont family, but I probably had an image of old mustachioed, pot-bellied men walking around in suspendered shorts toting mugs of beef and plates of sausage. I could also picture pigtailed blondes serving tables full of beer-drinking men singing “Ja, ja, ja, ja!”

Boy, would I have been wrong. It turns out that Harry’s Hofbrau is a cafeteria … but not the kind one usually sees.

Dozens of customers make their way down a Disney-style winding line before getting their chance to order at the counter. The first server asks what you want and you’d better be ready (after all, you’ve had a long line walk with lots of time to decide). Once that’s done, he hands you over to the second guy, who loads a plate with your entrĂ©e and takes your order for sides.

One more down the line and more sides are offered. And so on, until you reach the cashier. By the time you get there, your tray is full of plates, they take your beverage order, and you empty your wallet. But the prices are very reasonable and the first thing you ask yourself is, “Can I eat all of this?”

They’re famous for their roast turkey, so that’s what I decided on. After all, my grandson had proclaimed that their turkey gravy is the “best in America!” I mean, how could I resist? It comes with mashed potatoes, choice of white or dark meat (or both), a sesame bun, and a huge ladleful of gravy.

I had a side of stuffing (or course), eschewed the cranberry sauce and replaced it with a tomato salad. The wife ordered a sandwich and ate half my salad, as usual.

The turkey was moist and tender, even without the gravy. You know how it is. You love turkey, but never make it except on special occasions because it takes so much time and attention. Harry’s does all that for you; all you do is eat … and eat … and eat.

They did have the knockwurst and sauerkraut on the menu; I was Jonesing for it when I got in, but then I saw all the turkey being served and I capitulated to my grandson’s proclamation, re the gravy. So … only one conclusion: I have to go back. I’ll probably get sidetracked again and order any one of their other comfort food menu items.

But that’s okay, it’ll give me yet another excuse to return, this time with a bigger appetite.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the ice-cold frozen beer taps. You don't see these things very often!

Harry’s Hofbrau, 390 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, CA 95129. Phone (408) 243-0434. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Where Hawaii Ranks 43

Women seem to have it good in Hawaii. We lead in several women’s gender-related comparisons.

Best City: Female Business Entrepreneurship (WalletHub, 2016)

1.       San Antonio-New Braunsfeld, TX
2.       Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
3.       HONOLULU, HI
4.       Albuquerque, NM
5.       Oklahoma City, OK

Highest Business Gender Inequality (WalletHub, 2016)

1.       HONOLULU
2.       Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
3.       Tie: • Syracuse, NY; • Rochester, NY; • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA; and • Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

Highest Employment of Single Moms with Underaged Children (WalletHub, 2016)

1.      Lubbock, TX
2.      Peoria, AZ
3.      Gilbert, AZ
4.      Chandler, AZ
5.      HONOLULU, HI

Most Parkland as Percentage of City Area (WalletHub, 2016)

1.      (TIE) HONOLULU, HI
2.      (Tie) Anchorage, AK
3.      (Tie) Fremont, CA
4.      Chesapeake, VA
5.      New Orleans, LA

Thinnest U.S. Metropolitan Area (WalletHub, 2015)

1.       HONOLULU (46.16 Indicator Score)
2.       Reno, NV (49.42)
3.       Boise, ID (50.93)
4.       Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV (51.02)
5.       Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA (51.17)

Longest Life Expectancy (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013) 
  1.    HAWAII (81.3 years)
  2.    Minnesota (81.1)
  3.    (Tie) Connecticut (80.8)
  4.    (Tie) California (80.8)
  5.    Vermont (80.5)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Where Hawaii Ranks 42

Since taxes have been on our minds recently (income taxes in particular), here are some Hawaii taxation rankings compiled and formulated by WalletHub in 2016.

Residents of Hawaii will find the rankings pretty depressing. Generally speaking, not only do we pay the highest taxes, we get very low returns on our tax investment.

(Click on category titles to see the appropriate WalletHub web page.)

  1. New York (13.12%)
  2. HAWAII (11.86%)
  3. (Tie) Maine (11.13%)
  4. (Tie) Vermont (11.13%)
  5. Connecticut (10.9%)

  1. HAWAII (6.95%)
  2. Nevada (5.89%)
  3. Washington (5.61%)
  4. North Dakota (5.05%)
  5. New Mexico (5.04%)

  1. HAWAII (Rate 0.28%)
  2. Alabama (0.43%)
  3. Louisiana (0.48%)
  4. Delaware (0.53%)
  5. (Tie) District of Columbia, South Carolina (0.57%)

  1. North Dakota
  2. Alaska
  4. New York
  5. Delaware

  2. (Tie) New York
  3. (Tie) Oklahoma
  4. Oregon
  5. Maryland

  1. Rhode Island
  3. (Tie) New York
  4. (Tie) Oklahoma
  5. New Jersey

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Phone Pix 66: Verge/Toll House

On Easter Sunday, the Fremont Miyamotos, the wife and I had Easter Sunday brunch at the Verge Restaurant in Los Gatos' Toll House Hotel.

The lunch itself was very nice and I'll tell you about it at a later date. For now, enjoy these phone pictures I took with my mobile phone-cam. They can only give you a glimpse of the restaurant and hotel's class and beauty.

Table Top Centerpiece, Verge Restaurant,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Toll House Hotel Lobby Arrangement,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Toll House Hotel Lobby Wall Art Photo,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Toll House Hotel Lobby Wall Art Photo,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Mother-In-Law's Tongue, Toll House Hotel Lobby,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Ceramic Bowl, Toll House Hotel Lobby,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Porte Cochere Waiting Bench, Toll House Hotel,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA

Toll House Hotel Porte Cochere Driveway Planting,
March 27, 2016, Los Gatos, CA