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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween 2020

Aloha Everyone,

It’s Halloween and the early morning temperature has dipped to low 50’s, an ideal weather for my morning walk. I saw a couple of charming Halloween decorations in our neighbors’ front porch.

This year, Halloween spending in America is forecasted to drop to $8.05 billion which translates to 8.3 % decrease from 2019. However, an average person who is celebrating Halloween 2020 may still spend up to $92.12.

It’s interesting to note the popularity of Halloween is that it is more affordable than Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Happy Halloween 2020!

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Year Ago 2019!

Aloha Everyone,

Exactly one year ago today, we were wrapping up our 3 months travels through Spain and Portugal. How time has sped by us, and yet sometimes it feels like we are stuck in a time capsule waiting for days, weeks and months to pass. At the end of our passage is the shiny promise of controlling down the spreading COVID-19 and effective vaccines that would be available to anyone who would be willing to get it.

Always remember that all of us are smarter, stronger, kinder and resilient than some of us give ourselves credit for. Stay healthy and be safe!

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 26, 2020

Takeout Pizza Night!

Aloha Everyone,

You wouldn’t think that we would be so excited about having some take-out pizzas, but we were thrilled. This is the first pizza we’ve had since returning back to the USA. The smell of still warm pizza permeated our dining room table.

We tend to appreciate such commonly available takeout pizzas when we haven’t had one since sheltering-in-place. I savored a piece along with a few calamari ala Romana. A great meal!

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, October 25, 2020

My October Breakfasts

Aloha Everyone,

Sometimes it’s difficult to vary my breakfast menus in terms of variety and colors as well as their nutritional values.
I selected 7 out of 25 days so far into the months. By looking at these photos, I hope I was successful.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Native American Quotes

Aloha Everyone,

I selected a few of my favorite Native American quotes. They are full of wisdom and profound perception.

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”- Tribe Unknown

“Grown men can learn from very little children, for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk, Oglala Lakota Sioux

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.” - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

“What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a Buffalo in the wintertime.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” - Blackfoot

“Our first teacher is our own heart’” - Cheyenne

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, October 23, 2020

October Dining-in Meals

Aloha Everyone

The pandemic has forced to cook a lot more at home. Here are some of the things we prepared in October:

Ground turkey & vegetable stirred fry


Pansit Bihon - Rice noodle dish with chicken & vegetables (Filipino)

Tonkatsu aka Wienerschnitzel - breaded pork cutlet (Japanese/German)

Vegetable plate

Quiche (French)

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Some Businesses Thrive During the Pandemic

Aloha Everyone,

Every day we read about local mom & pop stores as well as large national chain stores closing. Some are closing for good or not renewing their lease while some restaurants are consolidating their retail locations and moving towards take outs and deliveries only.  

In today’s Hawaii News Now, an article appeared highlighting a company that prints “space available” and “business closing” signs. For now the owner’s business is brisk, making profit from others misfortune. It is a sad realty and the sign of times.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Mandalorian

Aloha Everyone,

The Mandalorians are fantasy, fictional characters who originated on the planet Mandalore in the galaxy’s outer rim territory. They are legendary warriors who fought against the Jedi.  

The Mandalorian stories takes place during the period between Star War Episode 6 and 7. The Empire has fallen and the galactic world has no law and order.  If you are an original Star Wars trilogy fan, you will enjoy the Mandalorian series. I was not expecting much but after the first one, I got hooked.

The main character is a bounty hunter and he travels to far corners of the galaxy wherever his assignment may take him.

I especially enjoyed the introduction of baby Yoda (not Yoda but of Yoda’s species) and his innate power.

One can see the respect George Lucas has shown to Akira Kurosawa, the late legendary Japanese film director. One episode is a similar story line from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The episode of the Mandalorian and the Child is borrowed directly from the Lone Wolf and Cub, another very popular Japanese samurai movie and television series circa 1970.

The Mandalorian Season 2, available only via Apple TV, will be premiered on October 30 and a weekly release of new episodes to follow.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 19, 2020

$500 Restaurant Cards

Aloha Everyone,

Hawaii residents who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 are receiving $500 restaurant debit cards. Approximately 116,000 Hawaii residents who have been on unemployment are eligible. The card can only be used to purchase foods and non alcoholic beverages. One has a choice of fast food places or sit down restaurants. Using unspent money from the Care Act fund, the state government’s goal is to stimulate economic activity in the Hawaii food supply chain starting from local farmers, fishermen, ranchers, producers and distributors.

The debit card usage is limited to the state of Hawaii and individual cards have an expiration date of December 15th.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Year Around School

Aloha Everyone,

Public schools in the United States were founded in 1635 in Boston, Massachusetts.

During COVID-19, many schools have shifted to online classrooms. Some educators including Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education with the Obama Administration, feels that we need to overhaul the public schools system to accommodate today’s generation who grew up with computers. The K-12 school calendar based on an agrarian economy is no longer viable for today’s society.

There is no perfect education system to meet individual student’s needs. While technology have propelled some students to reach new heights of achievements, lack of accessibility, lack of funding, lack of parental support have also resulted in alarming disparities between haves and have nots.

Shifting to a year around school is an interesting concept worthwhile to explore. However, it is not an easy task. What about the teachers, school administrators and the parents? How would working a year around schedule impact their salaries? How much do they need to modify their own personal life to accommodate working year around?

Our son, Jeff, is a public school teacher, and he likes the idea.  Of course, he stated that teachers would want to get compensated for the additional months that they work.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Flu Vaccination

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I had two options as to where to get our flu shots.

First was at Scripps Torrey Pines Hospital. They offer drive through service but requires advance appointments.

Second was to go to a CVS Pharmacy where you can drop in anytime. I called the CVS located less than a mile from us. The clerk who answered my phone said they give no appointments. When I asked which days and time slots might have the least number of shoppers, including those who are getting flu shots, she brightly replied, “Oh we hardly have shoppers so just come in at anytime.”

J.J. and I both had a good night’s sleep and were feeling great this morning. Therefore, we asked our daughter-in-law to drive us to the nearby CVS. Again, us driving Honu was not an option due to available parking stall sizes.

No waiting at the pharmacy. A clerk imputed our data and established our CVS accounts including info from our driver’s license and Medicare card. We then answered a questionnaire, signed our names. The total time for the two of us was 24 minutes. We spoke only to the clerk and then the pharmacist who administered our shots. All of us wore face masks. J.J. and I used a hand sanitizer. We remain hopeful that COVID-19 vaccine will become available to a general public within the next 6 months.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Bletchley Park & Facebook

Aloha Everyone,

This is a “feel good” story about Facebook making a £1 million ($1.3 million) donation to the museum at Bletchley Park. Bletchley Park was the secret venue where British code breakers decrypted messages sent using Nazi Germany’s Enigma cypher. The work of the code breakers lead to the development of Colossus, the first computer.

Many businesses and institutions are being closed due to the pandemic. It is a fitting for Facebook to make the large contribution to the place where “the era of the computer was born.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 12, 2020

Internet Saint

Aloha Everyone,

Carlo Acutis was just 15 years old when he died of leukemia in 2006. Carlo helped run websites for Catholic organizations and he recorded alleged miracles online.

The Italian teenager was a computer programmer and he has already been nicknamed as “the patron Saint of the internet.”

With a beautification ceremony in the town of Assisi, where Carli’s remain is entombed, he may soon become the first Millennial to become a saint.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Service Animals vs Emotional Support Animals

Aloha Everyone,

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, only dogs and miniature horses are recognized as Service Animals.

It is stated “service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.”  

In 2011, miniature horses were added to that list.

Emotional Support Animal is not a Service Animal. These animals have less restrictions as to the size and species. To qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, its owners must have visible or invisible emotional or mental disability. Such disability requires certification by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Unfortunately there are organizations that are advertising their services to help you get certified to warrant an emotional support animal.

I am not prepared to sit in an airplane seat with a 120 pound potbelly pig next to me that is certified as an Emotional Support Animal. This was the recent experience of a passenger.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Daily Quigong Practice

Aloha Everyone,

I found a perfect spot to do my morning quigong practice at the onset of my daily walk. The location is within our gated community with tall Cypress trees reaching towards the sky.

The Quigong master I studied from in Hawaii, kept on emphasizing that, Quigong is not a religion. It is a system combining breathing, meditation, body posture and movement.

Quigong traces its ancient root to China. The ideal time to practice Quigong is early morning when the air is fresh and energy sources are strong. You can get Qui from external (things that surround you) and internal (comes from the nourishment you consume.) Humans, animals, trees, plants and all living things have Qui, life energy. Until you have learned to convert negative energy to positive, be sure to focus on people, animals and environment that offers positive Qui.

For those of us who are also students of yoga, Tai’chi and meditation, the concept of Qui is also incorporated in their teachings.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, October 5, 2020

New Pairs of Walking Shoes

Aloha Everyone,

My shoes last about 2 1/2 - 3 months. I just received two pairs of New Balance walking shoes, using my daughter-in-law’s Amazon Prime account. When I first went to the New Balance store site, they wanted $168.00 per pair. I searched on Amazon and they were the same price. My daughter-in-law then suggested that I try Amazon Prime and see if they have any daily specials. I can’t believe that I was able to purchase two pairs of shoes for less than $150.00. With new pairs of shoes, my gait is even lighter.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Duolingo Weekly Competition

Aloha Everyone,

Duolingo claims to have more than 300 million users worldwide. The app is free with option to pay for upgrades. At present, 37 languages are taught via Duolingo. Some languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, German, etc. have well organized lesson plans including pronunciation keys, grammar and vocabulary, emphasizing on core skills of reading and speaking.

Duolingo’s promotional slogan is to spend 15 minutes a day. I have so far signed on for 12 languages. Most mornings, I begin my day reading short stories in Spanish and French. Depending on one’s reading level, you receive 28 XP (experience point) per completed story.

On two previous occasions, I finished at 3rd place and received 1,000 gems which can be use to fill your “heart”. The weekly competition keeps some of us motivated.  For some unknown reason, this week I saw no competition. Therefore without putting much effort on my part, I pretty much maintained my top slot. I received 1,500 gems for finishing at #1, plus 250 additional gems for meeting two other criteria. 1,750 gems equals 4 full hearts refills.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, October 3, 2020

El Cóndor Pasa (I Rather Be) Sang by Simon & Garfunkel

Aloha Everyone,

El Condor Pasa is a Peruvian Zarzuela (musical play) written in 1913 by Daniel Alomia Robles. The song with English lyrics, “I rather be” sang by Simon & Garfunkel was released in an album Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970.

From that time, more than 4,000 versions of the melody and 300 sets of lyrics have been produced around the world.

The song is about freedom. The song is about personal freedom, religious freedom and political freedom. It is also a song about strength. After a half century, this powerful song with its profound message is still relevant today.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, October 2, 2020

Absentee Ballot

Aloha Everyone,

As legal residents of South Dakota, JJ and I finished casting our votes through the mail.

The procedure was simple. We first had to individually request for our mail-in ballots using an online mail-in ballot application. The application was mailed backed with our signature and facsimile of our SD identity.

Our ballot arrived in the mail with clear instructions. We returned the completed ballot using the envelope that was provided. My name and signature had to be on the return envelope. The election will match it with the signature sent earlier. After I affixed $1.00 in stamps and dropped it in the mailbox, I must say that there was a small but genuine satisfaction that I have done my civic duty.

J.J. will check next week to confirm our envelopes have been received. As of today, 18% of South Dakotans have already voted by mail.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 1, 2020

History Parody Songs

Aloha Everyone,

Our granddaughter’s History teacher showed her class History Parody from YouTube including Battle of Roanoke Island using “Let It Go" of Frozen movie theme song. There are many other History parody songs posted. Our granddaughter’s reaction was lukewarm. She prefers reading to listening to these humorous songs. Here is a link to Battle of Roanoke Island.

Aloha -- Cathi