photo by EfrankE

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Back in the Midwest of my childhood, my parents and their closest group of friends took turns hosting New Year's Eve parties. We kids always ended up staying home with a sitter, so until I got older and my parents came up in the hosting rotation, I had no idea what these gatherings were all about.

I had to piece together an understanding of what being a grownup on New Year's Eve was all about from a few photographs. Here's one from 1959.

I know what you're thinking. This looks more like a PTA meeting than a party. Where are the funny hats, the noisemakers, the confetti? Wasn't there supposed to be some sort of dancing? The Fred Astaire-type movies on the old black and white Philco always had dancing on New Year's Eve.

Well, apparently later, there was some sort of revelry involving wearing a "costume" and, it looks like, an extemporaneous skit, which must have comprised "the program." I assume this photo was taken after order was restored.

Pretty simple stuff but it went with the times.

I hope each of you finds yourself with a gathering of your closest friends this New Year's Eve, even if it's for the simple enjoyment of being together. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year's Tradition

Where has the last week gone? One minute it’s Christmas, you blink a couple of times and it’s nearly New Years Eve. Not to panic, though. There’s still time to form up the annual New Year’s Weight Loss Plan.

Perhaps you engage in this tradition too, the one where, at the change of the year, you set out an unreasonable goal of losing an impossible amount of weight in order “to get back to where you need to be.”

I don’t know if this stems more from obligation or compulsion, social pressure or internalized value, but it’s definitely become an annual tradition, much like ice-bathing for the Polar Bear Club or bathing at all for hippies.

For me, it started up again last night. Sensing I was a little behind schedule, the pressure began building to talk about getting on some sort of diet. Starting off on a diet cold-turkey usually ends in predictable failure so I always try to ease myself into it a little at a time. It helps to be able to see a diet coming so you can brace yourself for impact.

I like to start off by limiting myself to just three meals a day and one dessert per day meal. This is to avoid a shock to your system, which can leave you feeling hungry. Hunger pangs can lead you cheat on your diet so you want to avoid them at all costs.

I go from there to substituting a salad instead of a milkshake as a side to the double-bacon cheeseburger and order the smaller bag of fries, which I think is now called carton-size.

Pizza can be a real diet-slayer, so only eat those on weekends. Alcohol is loaded with empty calories so be sure to drink light beer whenever you eat pizza.

Some experts say exercise is important but watch out, vigorous exercise can also leave you feeling hungry and if you’re trying to stick to the three-meals-a-day plan you may want to avoid any kind of exercise that involves exertion.

Always eat before you go to parties, so that you don’t feel the need to pig out because the food is free. Explain to the hostess that you’re on a diet so she will understand and ask if you can take a “doggie bag” with you to nibble on during the drive home to help avoid those pesky feelings of hunger.

There are other tips to losing weight but most of them are just old wives tales, in my opinion. There is one other useful diet device you might consider: Post a picture of yourself on the refrigerator, taken when you were at the weight you wish to achieve. It can be a great motivator! Here’s the one I put up on my fridge yesterday.

This was nearly 40 years and 65 pounds ago. I think it suitably represents an unreasonable goal of impossible weight loss and should work nicely.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Come Fly with Me

This was flying during better times

(okay, not fashion-wise)
h/t to Marcy Massura

I’m sure you’re all aware by now of the Christmas Day failed commercial flight bombing by a terrorist who tried to detonate explosives hidden in his pants. It was one of the subjects of conversation last night at our four-generation family dinner.

Consider: What has been the government’s response to this? Tighten the borders? Deport visitors illegally remaining in this country? Refuse the visas and entry of flyers from countries with known connections to terrorists? Pay extra special attention to suspicious characters with funny-sounding names from home countries most Americans couldn't find on a map?

Of course not, that would require common sense and professional competence. The government bureaucracy that oversees commercial air travel is today already busy compiling a list of additional rules and restrictions that will further inconvenience non-bombing flyers. Conventional wisdom dictates that it’s better for hundreds of millions of innocent consumers/flyers to be greatly inconvenienced than to engage in passenger profiling which might inconvenience a few.

I can’t help but suspect Nationalized Health Care will be run with the same mindset but that’s not the subject here.

With most businesses, the customer is always right. In the airline industry the passenger is always wrong. "No, you may not bring on your own water or drinks, you will buy ours at inflated prices. We will not offer meal service on long flights, you will purchase an over-priced snack from us that tastes like cardboard if you get hungry. You will pay for each bag you wish to check. You will be at the airport another hour previous to your scheduled departure. Oh, and keep your hands where we can see ‘em." They might as well instruct their flight attendants to ask, “Is there any way I can make your flight MORE uncomfortable?”

While pasing through the various required checkpoints to board a plane, each of us is treated as a suspect, a potential criminal. I get treated better at Wal-Mart, which has even abandoned using the geriatric security guard to check receipts in shopping bags.

I expect commercial air travel, as it exists, will soon reach the point where it will no longer provide a benefit sufficient for people to use it by choice. Someone will come along with a new business model that will work better, attracting many customers. The government (i.e., you and I) will probably then have to bail out federally-regulated, existing airlines, which will be deemed too big to fail.

“So,” you say, “if you’re so smart, what would you do to solve all this?”

Me? I’d hang these posters up at two hundred foot intervals in every airport in the U.S.

Hey, it’s a start…

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Do You See?

Christmas Day is now past and a major tree un-decorating project looms darkly over my near future.

While laying the lights onto the Christmas tree a mere three weeks, or so, back, I commented to my son that I was frustrated that I couldn’t get the lighting wires to settle into the tree so as to disappear satisfactorily.

His response to this was, “Do you really think anybody will notice? Don’t people see what they expect to see?” His case being, I suppose, that people were experience-trained to perceive the lights and ignore the occasional uncooperative wire.

Naturally, he was speaking from a man’s point of view. Men will just see a tree with lights. Women, I’ve found, tend to examine Christmas trees in great detail. Any unusual ornament will produce questions about the history behind it (where and how you got it, how long you’ve had it, etc. – the type of questions that are better asked of my wife, as I can only respond to each of them with, “Uh, I don’t remember.”).

I try to hide the wires for the benefit of the women.

Tangentially, let me pose this question to you: What do you see in the following frames?

images from http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/

Pure beauty, right? Objects of stunning symmetry about multiple axes, incredible detail, transparency, prismatic highlights of color, each snowflake unique and a masterpiece of creation.

Now, what do you see in the photo below?

This is a photo of my uncle standing in front of his home a few days ago in Minnesnowta.

What did you see in the photo?

Did you look at this and visualize the movie scene where Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby sing White Christmas as the doors at the back of the stage open to a gently falling snow, or maybe the Budweiser commercial always shown with TV football games at Thanksgiving, the one with the Clydesdales pulling a wagon over a stone bridge in a forest during snowfall?

Whenever I see snow like this it reminds me of walking about a mile from the Architecture to Engineering College across the university campus with the frigid prairie winter wind whipping sleet in my face and the bitter cold getting down my coat, stinging my neck and wrists (other associations include cold, wet feet; ice-caked windshields; frozen brown slush in potholes; cars that won’t start and dealing with this stuff month upon month).

Individual snowflakes are beautiful, especially in photographs made with special equipment. I have no history impacting these images. I therefore find them beautiful and pleasant to observe.

I do have more than a little experience slip-sliding down the interstate in evening twilight on icy roads in high cross-winds, with the white stuff rapidly accumulating before me. Experience also, with shoveling out the driveway and sidewalk before leaving for work and coming back to walk the dog in the sub-freezing darkness of night - the kinds of snowy scenes you won’t find on postcards or visitor information brochures.

In the end, I guess people do see what they expect to see and respond accordingly, personal experience being the master of perception.

That’s not to say you can’t make the best of a bad situation. Here’s the result of one man seeing opportunity in the snow for making lemonade when life gave him lemons…

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Incarnation

In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
– Gospel of John 1:1 & 2, 12-14

This is the Christmas celebration. God took on the likeness of his creation, lived on the earth in time and space, in human form, as Jesus, experiencing the same limitations and deprivations common to all. Yet he was also the exact representation of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Through his perfect obedience to God the Father, Jesus overcame the power of sin and, finally, death itself. After his resurrection, he sent the Holy Spirit to establish his kingdom of righteousness in the hearts of men and women, to begin training his followers in faith and obedience to the Father’s leading, this after his own example, so that they might become like him, forming a body under his headship.

One event proceeding from the Christmas narrative remains yet to come: Jesus’ return to the earth to establish righteous government over all nations. His, will be a fair administration with true justice - the equal treatment of everyone under his one perfect law. It will not utilize political intrigue nor the favoring, or oppression, of one by another.

As men experience true justice with mercy through the administration of his laws, they will come to an understanding of his true character and thereby learn to know him and love him. Scripture says that someday, the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Then there will be peace on earth.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
– Isaiah 9: 6-7

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cold Case, December, 1957

Following our recent move, I came across this old photo. It is the last in a series of four annual photos taken at the same department store Santa chair over the first four years of my life.

This photo is important for two reasons:

The first: It was taken at the age when I was at the peak of my physical attractiveness.

The second: Apparently, this was where I began learning to stand up for myself.

I honestly cannot remember the circumstances now, but by examining the photo as forensic evidence, the camera appears to have caught me in the act of attempted assault payback.

You’ll notice from the photo that Santa Claus caught my wrist just before I closed the deal with a sucker punch to the gut.

Having been a fair-minded child, I must assume that he had brought on this incident himself, probably from having failed to deliver the goods after nodding assent to a whispered request the previous year. Even then I had a weak stomach for double-crossers.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Clearly, I had no intention of playing the fool a second time.

In retrospect, I probably should have spent more time working on my Hey, look over there! fake smile, which, evidently, did not produce the measure of distraction necessary to cause the Jolly Old Elf to drop his defenses. Perhaps he’s seen that trick before.

Whatever I asked him for that year is lost in the mists of time, but I don’t doubt that the message I delivered to a certain Mr. Claus that day was received, loud and clear.

I don’t recall being disappointed the following Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I meant to post this earlier this week. It's a satellite photo of the Mainland, a long, long way from the Big Island, showing the snowy front that passed over much of the Eastern Seaboard last weekend. The large, jagged water form below the broken land mass looks like Chesapeake Bay, with the Delaware River above it and to the right.

Washington D.C. would be at the end of the brown hooky-looking line at the end of the Potomac River, branching off the left side of the Chesapeake.

"Lucky you live Hawaii!" Me too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's a SAD Day

Today was the shortest day of the year. More accurately, it’s the day with the shortest duration of the sun’s rays cast upon the earth in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice.

I have to say, some of the people I ran into today who ordinarily seem pretty friendly and happy appeared to be a little farther south than usual on the emotion-o-meter. Admittedly, I can’t say that I also don’t feel an impact from the shorter daylight hours, although too, I can’t spend two consecutive days on the Hilo side of the island without feeling pretty much the same thing, no matter what time of year it is.

Returning to topic: Back in the day, this phenomenon (which we called merely, a feeling) was commonly known as the winter blues. Most people probably felt it at some time or other. Today, the same thing has taken on a more modern, a more lofty-sounding, a more jargon-confusing appellation. Today, the winter blues is Seasonal Affective Disorder (that’s SAD – get it?)

Wikipedia cites the US National Library of Medicine, which notes that the SAD mood change "may cause people to sleep too much, have little energy, and crave sweet and starchy foods. They may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.” Hmmm… and this is different from the effects of pregnancy just how?

Continuing from the cited source above, “There are many different treatments for … Seasonal Affective Disorder, including light therapy with sunlight or bright lights, antidepressant medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy (wonder what those guys charge?), ionized-air administration, and carefully timed supplementation of the hormone melatonin.” None of these treatments sound very cheap to me.

I suppose most of the SAD-associated players figure it’s a win-win. Researchers get paid to study it, depressed people get a more sympathy-inspiring, higher status-carrying problem to talk about and, of course, there must be some sort of professionally-sanctioned remedy - therapy, if you wish - to treat (notice they don’t say cure) the disorder. Doubtlessly, the various recommended treatments involve costs that contribute to the 1/6 of the economy related to health care.

Here’s a less-costly remedy, one suggested – at the time I would’ve said commanded - by my mother when I was a grade-schooler. “Quit moping around, I’m tired of it! There are plenty of people who are worse off than you! Go find something useful to do if you want to feel better. Go out and run around, get some exercise. Go play with your friends or get out some of the things in your closet and play with those.”

And that’s what I did. After a while, the days stayed light longer, the weather got better and so did we all, kids and adults. We didn’t see doctors or psychologists, we didn’t need professional therapy or drugs, light machines or special air administration. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why health insurance was affordable then, and so was seeing a doctor when you had an actual physical injury like a broken bone or a real illness like an ear-infection or pneumonia.

Perhaps the SADdest thing of all, is that we’ve become such weak characters that there is no problem so small that we don’t expect someone else to take care of it and insurance to pay for it. That’s not just SAD, it’s a shame.

Most Sundays, the Men Cook

To break the routine of the week, most Sundays, the men take over cooking responsibilities for the day at our place . I usually make some kind of breakfast/brunch around nine a.m., mid-day meal we leave everybody to their own plans and Sunday nights we try to come up with table fare that doesn’t require the women to be (heavily, at least) involved.

I pretty much know my way around a kitchen, except for this one in the house that we moved into several weeks ago. It has about three times the cabinet space as our former place and I still haven’t learned the location of everything. Meal prep in this one sometimes makes me feel like I’m driving around lost in L.A. or Chicago, looking for the expressway on-ramp. This can be aggravating, and occasionally humbling, especially when I have to stop what I’m doing to try to find one of the girls to ask for directions to the right cabinet. It’s a guy thing.

Last evening, after a weird weather day of thunder & lightning (rare for Kona, yeah?), heavier winds and rain (even waterspouts viewable from town, according to Baby Girl and her boyfriend) the evening calm returned. The sky brightened and with drier conditions, the men set to work on dinner.

Here’s the boyfriend with a pair of Uhu he netted earlier in the weekend.

He has a recipe for fish stuffing which comes together something like this.

Husband of next daughter upward fired up the grill for the turf to go along with the surf.

The rest of us made potatoes and rice (Midwest and mid-West Hawaii preferences both accommodated) and salad.

After the many years of raising them, having the now adult generation around to pitch in - whether it’s moving or cooking, driving out on errands or other things I can’t think of right now - is an unforeseen pleasure. It's fun to have them around and great to have helpers.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Dog Gifts of Christmas

Adding to all the other pressures of the season how many times have you looked down your shopping list and thought, I really should pick up something for the dog but he’s so darn hard to shop for!

Sure, you can always fall back on the safe, squeaky chew-toy or yet another rawhide bone, but these are so cliché. They fall right in line with other gifts that have been done to death: Tie for Dad, sweater for Mom, deep fat fryer oil for Bubba, fireplug chew-toy for the pooch…

How about something that shows a little imagination, something that’ll make your dog feel like you put a little thought into your shopping this year, that you didn’t just run out to the nearest gas station on Christmas Eve right before closing to pick up the first thing your eyes fell on?

Here are some ideas to help foster holiday happiness with your canine and help you out of the hackneyed-gift rut this year.

Automatic Ball Launcher & Caddy

If your dog is an attention-seeking black hole and you find you just don’t have the energy left after a hard day at work to stand around tossing tennis balls and waiting for the dog to retrieve them, you need to get him one of these. Once you train Ol’ Roy to drop the balls back into the hopper you just stretch out in the hammock, reach down, flip on the switch and let the dog knock himself out while you catch a quick pre-dinner cat nap.

Doggie gets all the exercise you need.

Automatic Pet Fountain

As long as there’s enough garbage in the cans on the side of the house for rooting through you can hook this thing up and leave the dog without returning home for a week. Man’s Best Friend gets all the water he requires, plus, with the automatic sensor there’s no waste, helping to keep your water bill down.

“But I don’t want to leave my dog for a week,” you say. “I like my dog and want to take him with me.”

No problem. This year, get your dog the...

Shoulder Pet Suspension Harness

This ingenious travel accessory provides your pet with the same delightful effect as hanging his head out of the car window, but at the more leisurely pace suitable for taking in the sights - and without the problem of the wind blowing his drool along your side windows. No more leash tangling either, or waiting while your dog has to sniff every object you pass. Whither thou goest, he will go.

Note: This item recommended for little frou-frou dogs only. If you own a real-sized dog, check for availability of “The Double.” The Double harnesses you together with a partner who’s expected to shoulder half the burden, with the dog slung between the two of you. [Warning! – The Double might also operate as a relationship-commitment tester, but this is not intended or implied as a primary function of its design].

So, get going now. If you hurry, it’s still not too late to get the gift that declares to your pet, “You’re not just any dog in my life, you are The One,” without, you know, actually having to say it out loud.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Helpful gift Ideas for Women

This is Women Gift Buying 101 level, but, based on anecdotal evidence, it's not just beginners who can make empty-headed selections.

Recommended: Shiny, sparkly, expensive fashion add-ons - classy, sophisticated and timeless. You can't go wrong with these.

Not recommended: Kitchen appliances, beauty aids, gym memberships (unless requested), clothing in sizes that could turn out to be too big or too small when she tries them on, framed photo of yourself (unless signed with statement of devotion and accompanied by items from recommended category).

Other possibilities (in ascending order of expense): Professional massage coupons, i-apple stuff, vacation without the kids to romantic destination, new car with big red ribbon on top.

Stick within the boundaries, guys. You may think yourself capable of operating outside of time-tested traditions and that your own idea will turn out to be the exception to prove the rule while even demonstrating your superior creativity. That's the kind of thinking that has lost wars, bankrupted nations and, well, there is that famous golfer example in the news that just won't go away...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Helpful Man-gift Ideas for Women

Ladies! – Still looking for that gift to buy to show your devotion to the man of your dreams? Here are my recommendations:

The Man Wall.

You get four TV’s hooked up to a 1200-watt home theater system, 5-disk DVD player/changer, i-pod docking station, built-in keg-o-rater, microwave oven, two cigar humidors, 32-bottle wine rack, snack cabinet and at the top, a 7 foot long sports ticker driven by a dedicated computer. With careful planning up to 12 college games can be viewed on one game-day Saturday. Could there be any better way to say, "I love you," than the gift of the Man Wall?

The base model sells very reasonably for under $14,900.00. Most effectively used when installed in a dedicated man cave, but placement against a large blank wall in the center of the living room can also be made to work – an important consideration in these tougher economic times.

During half-time, your guy and his buddies will want to eat American so how about ordering some U.S.D.A. Choice, Land of Liberty steaks to throw on the grill?

This can also be a great opportunity to show your patriotism, especially those of you with a hunger to serve your country.

And while the steaks are cooking why not bring out some appetizers skewered in manly fashion with a cocktail nail rather than a little frou-frou plastic, fringe-top toothpick? Guys generally feel more at ease in the presence of hardware hospitality. For you ladies who are married, this item can greatly help your husband’s buddies feel a sense of acceptance and belonging in your home.

For those disappointing mismatches when the game is a blowout, interest often wanes and guy-guests may start heading for the door. What better way to keep the crowd entertained and in your home than with this foosball table?

No more waiting for a chance to play when you’ve got one of these babies. Everybody plays all the time and the games can go on all night, one after the other. Also, you can spread out the man-mob through several rooms rather than trying to cram everyone into the living room or study.

To keep things fresh in the powder room, you’ll want a beer candle to light before the first guest arrives. No more competing floral and girlie potpourri scents overwhelming and confusing the senses. With the beer candle burning, the party never ends, even when you have to stop to take care of business.

Ladies, I trust these suggestions will prove themselves enlightening, helping you think the way a man thinks - an invaluable tactic in successful man-gift selection.

Gifts like these can’t help but deepen his affection for you, strengthen your relationship with each other and tighten your bond. They say, “I love you,” in the gift language every man understands.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Yard Displays - Part 3 (Final)

So, here’s my point, the reason I think some homeowners apply themselves with such evident devotion to their yard lighting and ornamentation.

Christmas yard lighting displays are one of a dwindling number of safe havens for individual expression anymore. You still have the freedom to put up pretty much any kind of display you want to without concerning yourself that some cry baby is going to claim he was offended by you and report you to some authority or initiate a class action suit (certain gated-communities, excepted).

There are a few other havens suitable to freely expressing yourself. You can go to a major sports event dressed like any kind of character imaginable and act up like a drunken frat boy and the crowd cheers you on. Fashion is another. In some venues, you can dress as outrageously as you want (probably not in Kona, though) and if you are famous and/or slender, people will remark about how bold, daring and chic you are (before they go home and laugh their butts off).

But for the rest of us, we who are trying to maintain some degree of dignity, the more viable option is to light up the yard in a unique and individual - i.e., not in a committee consensus - way. Granted, some displays are more beautiful than others, and some just make you shake your head and think, “huh?” (see photo above)

But to me, each one is in some measure a representation of the deep and abiding need people have to maintain a connection to the traditions of their past and hope for the future, and more importantly, to express the uniqueness of their individual lives and affirm their personal significance in the midst of a society that more and more tries to deny them that. I’m all for their efforts. I think it’s healthy. We need to see each other more and more as the unique individuals that God made us and to remember that we bear His image. We might give some special thought to that during this season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Yard Displays - Part 2

In spite of the post-war economic boom, there was still a strong social memory of the Great Depression and World War II in the Middle America of my youth. Extravagance and showiness had not yet generated broad social approval. Personal moderation was considered virtuous and admired. Most Christmas yard displays were characterized by what I suppose you’d call tasteful lighting and restraint.

Until the mid-1960’s there had been something of a consensus regarding where everyone and everything fit into post-war American society. On the positive side of this, the country was pretty steady, its mood was upbeat and there was substantial social stability. On the negative side, people of some backgrounds were not afforded freedom of opportunity to work toward, or achieve, their full, God-given potential.

Social upheaval began to occur rapidly in the late 1960’s. America was divided by the Viet Nam war. Rebellion and the breakdown of social conventions - both those that had probably been useful and those that had clearly not - led to a lot of confusing social experimentation. The consequent unraveling of social cohesion produced wildly unpredictable - sometimes cavalier, sometimes tentative - expectations in social relations.

No longer was it easy to identify where you as an individual fit into your own society. It was natural that people began to experience increasing insecurity and it wasn’t hard for some to withdraw into a more isolated existence.

Clamorous, ideological, agenda-driven interest groups generated increasing social tension and political polarization. The traditions and customs on which secure social relations had previously been built crumbled. By the late 1970’s there was an identifiable “general malaise” affecting the country fed by high energy costs, job losses, inflation with a stagnant economy, loss of purchasing power and one peddled crisis after another. The country didn’t seem to work very well anymore.

Today, our lives increasingly seem to be driven either by political or business interests, with social friendliness, neighborliness and plain old human kindness diminishing, if not producing suspicion.

One particularly notable thing also has happened. Group rights have supplanted individual rights as the social goal of politics. Growing pressure to believe, think, and act in a superficial, politically correct way has become institutionalized policy in many government, educational and business domains. Verbalizing certain observations or expressing personal opinions not in line with the status quo of the new agenda might now draw serious sanctions. Not surprisingly, confidence gives way to caution. Social relations stiffen.

There have been other factors in play, of course, but I believe one particular consequence of the social and political direction the country has moved is of paramount significance:

The value our society places on the individual and his freedom to conduct his own affairs and determine the course of his own destiny resides in a much more vulnerable place than, say, previous to 1965. I think a lot of individuals sense this.

Yes, I am going somewhere with all this. I’ll be back to wrap up in the next post.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Yard Displays - Part 1

I took this snapshot on our way back from dancing tonight. On the far right (I know it's hard to make out so click on the photo) there is a rotating ferris wheel with riding teddy bears. It's just above the baby Jesus scene. I got to pondering the significant investment of time and effort it took to install some of these lighted yard displays, not to mention their off-season storage requirements. Why, I asked myself, do some folks go to such great trouble to put all this in place for such a relatively short time?

Because they must enjoy it a lot, I answered myself.

Yes, but why?

Hmmm.. do I dare trouble my mind by probing the question more deeply? Shouldn't I apply for a Pell Grant or something to study this phenomenon. After all, is anything considered accepted knowledge if it hasn't been quantified? My own reasoning was beginning to bore me and since I was driving and dozing off wasn't a desirable byproduct of my contemplation, I tried to change the subject. My mind, however, just wouldn't let the subject drop.

It is PLAINLY evident that the scope of so much Christmas season yard lighting, not to mention an explosion in the appearance of popular media characters - and even mechanized display activity - far exceeds anything observed in my childhood. Back then, even a string of colored lights across the front gutter was exhibited on only a few homes in the neighborhood and even those were considered showy.

More tomorrow...

Did you get the Christmas lights up yet, Deer?

Saw this in the news today. This was taken in Colorado Springs where one of my brothers-in-law and his family lives, as do some other friends. Hey, to you all out there!

Looking closely, except for the deer, it's uncanny how much the string resembles our lights when we dig them out of storage every year.

I'm thinking now all the other deer will laugh and call him names. They can be that way this time of year.

I'll be with you shortly...

I'm feeling some deadline pressure to get the annual family Christmas newsletter written so don't have much time to post today. Plus my full-time work, don't want to forget that. I'll leave you with the TV test pattern that I would watch every morning during my pre-school years while waiting for my parents to wake up and the first broadcast program of the day to come on.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

John's Short-lived Career as an Advice Columnist

This has been submerged under blogosphere water for a while and just surfaced again. Be encouraged, wives out there, the guy you married is probably not a dud after all, just normal.

click on image to enlarge
(h/t to Lumberjack)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Over the Bay at Hanalei

Rick sent me this photo he took of a Hanalei sunset and...what? A grommet practicing for monster surf wipe-outs?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Could somebody explain this to me..

I wanted to use the last post to segue into posts about the Christmas season but something's been weighing on my mind. I've asked some others about this but I'm still left with a lot of unanswered questions.

What is this massive female obsession with vampires?

The appeal of the Twilight saga is beyond my comprehension. I admit I haven't seen the movie but from descriptions I've read of the plot it's full of holes. First and foremost: How is it possible for a teenage girl to find her soul mate in a soulless creature?

I'm told the protagonist vampire hero, who has presumably reached near-full-grown vampire size from years of drinking human blood, suddenly foregoes leeching the blood of his protagonist female love interest and subsequently confines his blood meals to animals. Have I got this right, basically?

Do vampires or their swooning victims have a clue about the risks involved in this lifestyle? Who today cannot recognize the danger of having someone else's blood in your mouth? All but the most isolated of vampires must have learned something about hepatitis C and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in the last thirty years. Oh, wait, ... perhaps that's the subtextual message we're suppposed to read into their pursuit of virgin blood. Okay, I get that part.

Still, raw animal blood is no more safe. Rabbits? You contact their blood with a break in your skin and you're at serious risk of debilitating illness from tularemia. Pigs? They are commonly infected with trichinosis, a parasite that can cause humans severe gastrointestinal illness and muscle rigidity that would make death seem a welcome relief. Waterfowl or other animal-life that happened to eat parasite-ridden freshwater fish? The cure for acquiring those parasites is toxic enough to kill you.

I could go on and on but the point is, a vampire that consumed animal blood might be observed to display many cysts and pustules on his face and body. From the movie posters I've seen, the Hollywood makeup artists really dropped the ball on this one.

I can hear some of you now. "You're missing the point, blogger brain. It's not about health precautions and disease avoidance. It's about romance, coming of age, star-crossed lovers, the timeless dance of life called love." Okay (again, setting aside that vampires have no souls with which to love), if this were true why don't we see a similar phenomenon where the main love interest is a zombie, another character with no soul and also an immortal member of the living dead?

There's really very little difference between fresh blood and living flesh. When doctors do diagnostic tests they often want a blood sample and a tissue sample, right? And both are usually acquired with needles, so what, really, is the difference between vampires and zombies in their basic life, or, non-life pursuits and passions? A difference only in degree.

These are some of the reasons I probably wouldn't enjoy watching "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." I am, though, still curious about girls' and even middle-aged women's infatuation with vampires. If you have an opinion on this, click on the comments section below and share your thoughts.

I'd comment further myself but I have to sign off now. I just got this idea for a book about a socially isolated girl who moves into a new town and falls in love with a teenage zombie who dedicates himself to eating the flesh of animals instead of his new love's face -"Twi-Night of the Living Dead." I need to get an outline together quickly to send off to publishers. I'll fill in the plot holes later. This could be just the vehicle I've been looking for to finally acquire the phenomenal wealth that's so far eluded me. And when it comes time for my book to be made into a movie, those Hollywood makeup artists better get it right this time!

(Thanks, Baby Daughter, for the Photoshop work.)

Kicking Off the Holiday Season

click on photo to enlarge

"Larry, why are you sitting in here? Did you get the front Christmas decorations up already?"

"Uh-huh. Just in time for the kickoff too."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Deck the Malls

The fact that men need to devote themselves to spending quality time with their spouses in activities their wives enjoy in order to deepen the marital bond is no longer disputable. It is settled social science.

This might have been a story all men could have drawn inspiration from if it had had a happy ending.

Or perhaps it did.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Eddie Now Pau

Hawai'i's most anticipated elite surfing contest today started and concluded exactly 25 years to the day from the first Eddie Aikau memorial event. Here's a brief summary of the one day Waimea Bay competition:

Winner: Greg Long (San Clemente); Winner's Prize: $55,000 (Scored one of his rides with a perfect 100 points)

Second: Kelly Slater (Florida) $10,000

Third: Sunny Garcia (Hawai'i) $3,000

Fourth: Bruce Irons (Kaua'i) $3,000

Fifth: Ramon Navarro (Chile) $2,000 - Navarro also won the Monster Drop Award for the most bodacious successful take off, scoring a perfect 100 points on the ride and winning a prize of $10,000

Miscellaneous Stats: Waves of up to 50 feet were reported. An estimated crowd of 50,000 spectators watched while packed shoulder to shoulder on the beach and areas beyond. This year's contest ran during a 48 hour period of the most sustained massive surf in the last 40 years.

To watch highlights and for the full report go here

Also the London Daily Mail has some great photos here

Finally, click on comments option at the bottom of the previous post. Gym buddy, Rick, has a personal history overlapping with Eddie Aikau's.

The Eddie is ON!

On the 25th anniversary year of the first Eddie Aikau Memorial surfing contest, and for only the 8th time, the event is on today at Waimea Bay. The surf is up, WAY UP, 25'-30', and competition is expected to continue into tomorrow. Quiksilver has it on live webcam at http://live.quiksilver.com/2009/bigwave/live.php?btn_live=_over

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Hawai'i, you EAT!

I discovered early on here that in Hawai'i food plays an especially important role in social gatherings. At nearly all events, way more food is put out than can be eaten, apparently with the understanding that everyone attending arrives with an obligation to overeat, which we mostly do.

In the Midwest most people arrive at gatherings feeling obligated to claim to be on some sort of diet. They then proceed to overeat anyway, the difference being that overeating is not viewed as a social obligation. It's more of a voluntary, frequently-indulged option.

Beloved Wife and I were invited to a pig-roast/feast held two days after Thanksgiving this year. Though still bloated from the holiday, I recognized that it might appear to be rude on our part to attend the follow-up feast and then eat only a sufficient amount of food. I therefore determined to craft a plan to achieve an excessive level of food consumption at the feast, one sufficiently large to prevent any misunderstandings and avoid inadvertently appearing aloof or unappreciative of the preparations and hospitality of our hosts.

The Plan I hit on was this: On the "off" day between the two feasts, I would continue to consume the expansive quantities of food necessary to prevent my stomach capacity from diminishing (side note: having just placed as a finisher in the Annual Thanksgiving Day Stomach-Stretching, Eating-Endurance Challenge hosted by our family, and with the upcoming pig-roast a mere day away, I reasoned that it would probably be beneficial to keep my stomach in a state of heightened meal-readiness *alert level orange*).

So, that's what I did. Sure, it was a demanding eating test, forcing me to draw on every ounce of my resolve, but I managed to stick it out. It all comes down to the spirit of aloha. Sometimes you gotta go the extra mile. Just the way I was raised - and a cultural tradition in Hawai'i.

Pleasingly, I can report that all my forethought, planning and commitment to immoderate eating seems to have paid off. We ate a lot (tastiest ulu I've ever eaten), had a good time and left the event on good terms with our hosts. I believe everybody there went home with Ziplocks full of leftovers for later too!

In Memoriam

Pearl Harbor, O'ahu, Hawai'i, December 7, 1941

2,402 Killed

1,282 Wounded

68 years ago today.

A reminder on what can happen when warnings are ignored and signals are misinterpreted.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Laws of Attraction - Part I

Driving home together from a recent event, Beloved Wife and I had the following conversation:

SHE: "I'm really glad I'm married to you."

I: "Thanks. Good to hear. I don't think you've ever said that to me before."

SHE: "Really? I've never told you that?'

I: "No," (At least never while I was listening).

Hmm..., I thought, this might be one of those times you hear about when women attempt to communicate with their husbands. Think, man, think! What did that Sunday magazine insert relationship advice columnist say the man was supposed to do in these situations?

It's just as well that I drew a blank. Relationship advice is for wimps anyway. Real men don't need advice. It's a well known fact that most men instinctively always know the right thing to say or do. That's just the way we're made.

So, I ran down a quick mental checklist: Continue to earn a living? Check. Sleep at home every night? Check. Shower every day? Yeah, pretty much. I may not be Johnny Depp, or whoever it is that's the current object of women's desire, but I'm not exactly loathsome. So, after 35 years of marriage, five children and several of their own sprouts, why did she choose this moment to tell me this?

I: "Did this conclusion come to you because all the other husbands back there were boring?"

SHE: "Yes."

Hah! Figured it out all by myself! Who 'da man?! WHO 'DA MAN?!!!

So, what can other married men learn from my experience?

Just this: Never be boring. If you can't help being boring, try to get your wife to attend events with you where men who are much more boring than you are are likely to be heavy in the mix. You'll be prized by comparison. Or else be wealthy. That's supposed to make women feel fulfilled being married to you too.

Men, you should be writing this down. Take my advice.