Thursday, January 3, 2019

Where Hawaii Ranks 49

It’s been a while since I’ve compiled a small list of Hawaii rankings.

Greatest Decrease of Veteran Homelessness (Statista, 2018)
  1. Nevada (87.8% decrease)
  2. Ohio (25.4%)
  3. HAWAII (24.3%)
  4. South Carolina (23.1%)
  5. South Dakota (21.8%)
Best States for Women’s Rights (WalletHub, 2017)
  1. New York
  2. Minnesota
  3. Maine
  4. Nevada
Smallest Work-Hour Gap, Men-Women (WalletHub, 2017)
  1. Nevada
  2. Maryland
  3. Florida
  4. Delaware
Largest Islands in the United States
  1. HAWAII, HI (4,021 sq. mi.)
  2. Kodak Island, AK (3,588)
  3. Prince of Wales, AK (2,577)
  4. Chichagof Island, AK (2,080)
  5. St. Lawrence Island, AK (1,983)
States With The Most Active Volcanos
  1. Alaska (141)
  2. California (18)
  3. Oregon (17)
  4. Washington (7)
  5. HAWAII (5)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Hilo Days: The Summer of ‘52

Every summer was an adventure—some fun, some not so fun—when I expanded my little world. I wrote about the summer of 1952 in my old website, Hilo Days (now defunct). I'm reposting it here for you s you can reminisce about your good ol' days ... and laugh at me.

My Super Tricycle

Santa was good to me that year [1951]. And good thing too, because during the summer vacation that followed, that rat Michael broke the news that there was no such person as Santa Claus.

I got this real neat tricycle that was big. I mean it was about three feet tall, and about four feet long with pedals and a chain-drive that made it a cross between a kiddie tricycle and a full-fledged two-wheeler.

I'd join the neighborhood kids pedaling up and down the street—up the hill and down again—always about 50 yards behind, sucking up their dust. Of course I got no respect from those with two-wheelers, but I was the envy of all the ones who had no wheels at all—Reggie, Michael, Laureen and Billy Boy.

One day I smashed into a junk pile at the bottom of our driveway and flushed out a big rat. The kids reacted in one of two ways. Half the kids screamed and ran away, and the other half joined me as I picked up rocks and started pelting the poor creature.

I was pretty brave until Michael informed me that all rats have this bug that carries a disease and if you get too close, it would jump on you (the bug would) and bite you until you die. I believed him.

He may have been stretching the truth a little bit, but I believed him. I don't know why. He was a couple of years younger than I was. In retrospect, he must have been talking about the plague.

There was one time I had a hard time believing him. We were sitting on the front steps of my house during the summer of 1952, when out of the clear blue sky he asked if I believed in Santa Claus. Of course, I said. Well, he said, there's no such person. Santa Claus is your daddy.

Talk about being crushed! I called him a fricking liar, and all the small-boy swear words I knew. The nerve of that little twerp telling me there's no such thing as Santa Claus. Boy! I never realized at the time what a wise kid Michael was. I never broached the subject with Mom and Dad; I guess I was afraid of what their answer would be.

I was beginning to grow up and I think I made giant strides in that direction during the summer of '52.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

California Munching

Whenever we visited family in the East Bay Area, we made it a point to eat breakfast (and sometimes lunch) out when our grandson was in school and his parents were at work. I’m continuing that tradition. It’s a good one.

Here’s what I ordered on my most recent California vacation:

Bill’s Cafe, Fremont: Chorizo Omelet (Mexican chorizo, avocado, onions, cheddar cheese) with freshly made salsa, hash browns, and 12” flour tortilla

Classic ‘50s Diner, Fremont: Three-Egg Texas Chili and Cheddar Cheese Omelet with onions, potatoes and rye toast

Dina’s Family Restaurant, Fremont: Pork Chops and Eggs with hash browns and wheat toast

Wake Up America G-T, Newark: Salmon Benedict with fresh fruit and country potatoes

Mil’s Diner, Milpitas: Country Fried Steak and 3 Eggs Special, with country gravy, hash browns and toast

Dino’s Family Restaurant, Fremont: New York Steak and Eggs with country potatoes and toast

Jack’s Restaurant and Bar, Newark: Bananas Foster French Toast with LinguiƧa Sausage

Panera Bread, Fremont: Ham, Cheese and Roasted Tomato with Over-Easy Egg breakfast sandwich, and Seasonal Fruit Cup

The Country Way, Fremont: Hamburger Patty and Eggs with country potatoes and sourdough toast

Black Bear Diner, Fremont: Shasta Scramble (avocado, spinach, tomato, onion, bell pepper and jack cheese) with fresh fruit and a biscuit

Bill’s Cafe, Fremont: Mexicali Benedict (pulled pork carnitas, avocado, tomatoes and freshly made salsa) with country potatoes

Dino’s Family Restaurant, Fremont: Pancakes with fresh strawberries and a side of linguiƧa sausage

* * * * *
A few times, I had lunch out:

Local Cafe, Cupertino: Fish Ball Noodle Soup with Honey Lemon Iced Tea

Scoma’s, San Francisco: Fried Combo Platter (sea scallops, prawns, sole fish sticks). Condiments (l-r): ketchup, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, pickles

The Trident, Sausalito: The Trident Cioppino (salmon, crab legs, prawns, calamari, mussels, clams, vegetables, tomato broth) and Garlic Bread. Plus (below), "Breakfast Appetizer" ... Deviled Eggs with Bacon

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

LBJ (2017)

In this election year, it seemed the timely to watch Woody Harrelson’s outstanding portrayal of President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the 2017 film, LBJ.

Fortunately, it was available for viewing on Amazon Prime Video without any additional fee.

If you didn’t know Harrelson was the principal character, you’d never recognize him. His features were amazingly changed to resemble Johnson, and his voice alone would convince you that he was the real thing. It's Quite a departure from his days as Woodrow Huckleberry Tiberiius "Woody" Boyd on Cheers.

If you are unfamiliar with LBJ, who adopted the “initials” identification early in his political career to emanate the revered FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), know that he was one of the most powerful senators and U.S. Presidents in American history.

He was chosen by John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) to be his 1960 running mate. Although, he was hampered by a huge and aggravating ego, and dissatisfaction with playing second fiddle to the charismatic Kennedys. After the Kennedy assassination, he overcame resentment of the Kennedy clan, and persevered a path to greatness.

LBJ was largely responsible for the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights bill that essentially changed the face of America. The Civil Rights Act ended public segregation and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Eventually, however, his image was tarnished by decisions to expand the Vietnam War, and shockingly, LBJ became the last sitting President not to seek re-election: “Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

Personally, I was vocally anti-war during his tenure, as were many college students, and vilified him. But I still respected his office and have come to respect the man as I matured during the years. The film LBJ helped heal me.

I’d say more, but you really should watch the film.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Cool Water, Cool Thoughts

Back in 1963, waaaay back in 1963, when I was a sophomore at the University of Hawaii Manoa in Honolulu, I became interested in American folk music.

The Kingston Trio was big, as well as Hoyt Axton and Miriam Makeba. Peter, Paul and Mary had begun making their mark in folk music, and I listened to their music on my transistor radio (remember that imported phenomenon?).

One song that played every night because it kept getting requested was “Cool Water.” I have to admit that I called in a request more than a couple of times. I forget exactly who recorded that version of the song—maybe Hank Williams, or the Sons of the Pioneers.

At the time, I considered it a nice song that comforted me during my tedium of studying and trying not to flunk out of college. I had the lyrics memorized, but never gave their meaning much thought.

That’s changed. Last year, I bought myself a tenor ukulele, a far cry from the Goya acoustic guitar I used to play during my college folk group performances. I also bought a book of folk-type music with chord progressions. One song in the book was “Cool Water,” written by Bob Nolan in 1942. The song was 75 years old and it still moved me.

I paid attention to the lyrics this time ... very interesting. It’s a simple story of a man (prospector? wanderer?) and his mule named Dan, as they encounter a mirage. Simple enough, yet I started interpreting the mirage as a vision, and gave religious reference to the various elements in the song.

All day I’ve faced the barren waste
Without a taste of water—cool, clear water.
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry
And souls that cry for water—cool, clear water.

Jeez, I thought, the devil always tempts us. Sometimes it’s an apple, this time it’s a mirage that feeds on our wants and desires.

Keep a-movin’ Dan, don’t you listen to him, Dan!
He’s a devil, not a man
And he spreads the burning sand
With water—cool, clear water.

So then, I thought, who is this “devil, not a man” to whom the singer is referring? It can’t be Dan the mule, can it? I had thought that “Dan” was a nickname for the devil? I was wrong, of course, but see where my mind was leading me?

Dan, can you see that big green tree
Where the water’s runnin’ free
And it’s waiting there for you and me?

I think the “big green tree” is an allegory of Heaven that’s waiting for us to do good things so it can slake our thirst for forgiveness.

The nights are cool, and I’m a fool
Each star’s a pool of water—cool, clear water.
And way up there, He’ll hear our prayer
And show us where there’s water—cool, clear water.

Dan’s feet are sore, he’s yearning for
Just one thing more than water—cool, clear water.
Like me, I guess, he’d like to rest
Where there’s no quest for water—cool, clear water.

Cool water, a taste of Heaven, is our reward. All God wants to hear is that we need the cool, clear water that he offers, along with rest in the shade of the big green tree. Cool, eternal rest, away from the fires of hell. Our ultimate reward is waiting, and we will yearn and suffer no longer.

Or maybe, I’ve been over-thinking this.

“CoolWater” by Marty Robbins ... my favorite version.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hilo Days: Motherhood Triumphant

This article appeared in my Hilo Days blog many years ago and I thought I’d share it with you. It taught me a lesson about motherhood and how moms care for and about their offspring.

A Lesson in Nature

One day, Miss Yanagihara brought  a tiny baby mejiro [Japanese white eye] to [our first-grade] class. Someone had found it on the ground. Obviously, it had fallen from the nest. Or perhaps it was trying out its wings and got loose (say, that reminds me of the story where I got lost after Sunday School a few pages back).

The baby bird was placed in a bird cage, and a piece of papaya was stuck in the cage with it. The bird just chirped merrily and ignored the fruit. Ungrateful bird. I think Miss Yanagihara gave up some of her lunch papaya to feed the bird.

Anyway, class progressed. Everybody kind of forgot about the bird, until Miss Yanagihara shushed us and pointed to the back of the room.

Mama bird had hopped into the classroom, and was sticking her beak through the cage bars and feeding the baby bird. Mother Nature at work! The mama would feed her kid, fly out, fly back in, fed her kid, fly out, fly in ... you get the idea.

Miss Yanagihara picked up the cage and told us to follow her outside. She set the cage on the ground in the courtyard while we all watched. Just like in the movies, the mama bird flew down, chirpingly berated Miss Yanagihara, chirped a "Follow Me!" in mejiro-talk, and away she and her wayward baby flew.

Everyone was a-buzz about how the mama found and rescued her child. But you know, the only thing I could think about was what Miss Yanagihara was going to have for her lunch now that her papaya was gone. Honest. I worried about things like that. I was a strange kid.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Seven Dwarfs

Disney's Seven Dwarfs
Quick! Can you name the original seven dwarfs in the Grimm fairy tale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”?

If you said, with the utmost confidence, “Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc” you’d be so wrong. I don’t blame you; that’s how I would have answered too ... at least before a few days ago.

In a response to a Facebook friend’s post, I wanted to say I was as “dumb as Dopey.” Except that with my flagging memory, I couldn’t think of his name. So I Googled “seven dwarfs” and was referred to a Wikipedia page. Got my answer quickly, but not before I waded through a list of productions and their dwarfs’ names.

Did you know that the Brothers Grimm did not name their dwarfs in their 1812 story, “Snow White”? True fact.

The First Seven Dwarfs
Also, did you know the dwarfs were first named in a 1912 Broadway play. It was also the first time the dwarfs were featured in the title (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”). You’d never guess what their names were: Blick, Flick, Glick, Plick, Quee, Snick and Whick. I was flabbergasted when I read that.

The only times the dwarfs were named Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey and Doc, were in the (1) famous 1937 Walt Disney animated musical fantasy feature, (2) the 2012-2018 ABC Television fantasy series, “Once Upon a Time” (plus an eighth dwarf, Stealthy), and (3) the Disney/ABC Television’s 2014-2016 animated kiddie series, “The 7D.”

Wikipedia lists a total of 15 other films and productions, with some pretty incredible dwarf names, like:
  • Bertram, Bubba, Barnaby, Bernard, Boniface, Bruno and Baldwin
  • Biddy, Diddy, Fiddy, Giddy, Iddy, Kiddy and Liddy
  • Gorm, Knirps, Niffel, Quarx, Querx, Schrat and Wichtel
  • Butcher, Will Grimm, Half Pint, Napoleon, Grub, Chuck/Chuckles and Wolf
Okay, that’s enough. If you want to know more about them dwarfs, go here:

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Car Cane Handle

One of the best things I ever ordered from a Facebook ad is my Car Cane Handle. It’s an assist device that helps the elderly and disabled get out of their cars.

Before I got it, I had to press my left hand against the back of my driver’s seat and pull against the top of my open door with the right to get out of the car. The problem was my left hand. When people age, they lose their fingerprints and the palms become smoother. Bet you didn’t know that, huh?

My hands have become “dry slippery” and the left hand would slip down the seat, creating difficulty with egress. I needed help and didn’t know where to get it.

And then I saw the ad for Bell & Howell’s Car Cane Handle. Seemed like something worth trying.

So at less than $20, including postage, I took a chance. Best thing I’ve done in a long time.

To use it, you just insert the pointed metal “stake” into the metal loop on the door frame that the door latches onto. Then you use it like a handle for your left arm to push up against. Voila! A safe and easy exit with very little strain.

The pointed metal end can be used to break your car window if you need to escape in an accident.

And, a sharp blade within the opposite end of the red handle is an emergency seat belt cutter in case you need to free yourself for safety reasons.

There are also a couple of LED lights at the end that you can turn on when you need help in the dark.

Sometimes it pays to take a chance.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Beautiful Poignancy

Could We Start Again Please (from the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar") tops my list of poignant, heart-rendering Broadway songs. I first heard it performed by Heather McRae in 1972 at Universal Studios, just before returning home to Hawaii.

The movie debuted in 1973, with Hawaii’s Yvonne Elliman singing the role of Mary Magdalene. Her plaintive rendition of Could We Start Again Please did something to my heart, and I began silently weeping in the theater. Me, a big, strong successful up-and-coming public relations man, crying like a baby. Good thing the theater was dark.

As soon as the DVD was released, I bought it and have watched it numerous times, always becoming so emotional when the song came on. We attended the San Francisco stage performance in, I think, 2014, and my eyes were wet again.

I just finished watching the YouTube posting of the song. Three times. I can’t talk right now, but I’d like to share the music video with you now.

If you’ve had a disagreement, argument, or estrangement recently with a loved one, the two and a half minutes you spend listening is sure to soften your heart.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Keyless Has Left Me Clueless

(Reminder: in case you forgot, I drive a 2016 Toyota Prius Hybrid. It’s keyless, with push button start and touch-lock/open driver’s door.)

On my most recent visit to family in California’s East Bay Area, I rented a 2017 Hyundai Accent from Hertz. Nice car, very comfy, good get-up-and-go. Except that ... it had a key.

“What’s wrong with that?” you may ask. I refer you to the reminder above.

The first time I drove the car was an adventure. I slipped into the driver’s seat, reached forward to start the car ... and couldn’t find the start button.

Forehead slap. I forgot I had to use the key. So I had to unbuckle my seat belt, arch my back, and squeeze my hand into my tight jeans pocket to retrieve the key ring with the key and remote. Then I had to find the ignition, which wasn’t in plain sight, on the steering column, step on the brake, aim the key, stick it in, and turn it.

How many steps is that? Five, right? Or is it six? Anyway, with my Prius, I just step on the brake and press the start button. The car even tells me what to do on its dashboard screen

At our destination, I had to lock the car, so I touched the driver’s-side door handle (my Prius has three small ridges on the door handle to touch-unlock the door).

Forehead slap. I had to dig out the remote and key from my pocket again.

Later, I tried to unlock the car by just opening the door like I do on my Prius (just grab the handle and the door unlocks). Nope. Need the key or remote, which I had to dig out of my pocket again.

(I should clarify that the automatic features on my Prius only work when the special remote is close by, like in my pocket.)

The final frustrating moment came when I had to open the trunk. After fruitless groping for the latch with my arms full, I had to put bags back in the shopping cart and dig out the key ring, discover there was no trunk opener on the remote, and open the trunk with the key.

Frustrating indeed.

Upshot? The convenience of a keyless car has made me lazy and reminded me of what I used to do without even thinking (or complaining about it.

But then, that’s why they invented blogs, right? So I can grumble.