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Saturday, September 30, 2023

This Week’s Dining-in Meals

Aloha Everyone,

Whether to add color and texture to brighten up our breakfast plates or as a great source of vitamins, I love fresh fruits, especially strawberries and blueberries. Tiny blueberries are also high in antioxidants and just a handful works as a great pick me up. It’s actually better than a cup of coffee before my morning walk.

Here are a a sampling of our this week’s dining-in meals.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, September 28, 2023

60 Minutes Special on Sloths

Aloha Everyone,

On our first trip to Costa Rica, our tour guide stopped the van we were riding so we could witness a painfully slow ascent of a female sloth. There were other tour groups whose vehicles also stopped for this rare spectacle for cruise passengers. With irate local drivers honking horns, we didn’t see her complete the task. Our tour guide assured us that the sloth would eventually climb to the top of the tree stays there only to come down when she gets hungry.

Last weekend, we watched a 60 Minutes Special on Sloths. I always thought them to be comical and even slow witted but I was wrong.

Here are interesting data on sloths.

  • Sloths are about three times stronger than humans. They can use one of their arms to lift up their entire weight.
  • Sloths ability to move three times as fast in the water compared to on land is because sloths are able to keep their nose above water while swimming.
  • Sloths are color blind. Known as Monochromacy, like many animal species, sloths lack cone cells in their eyes.
  • Sloths make up their lack of eyesight by having great sense of smell.
  • Sloths are found in the trees if the tropical rainforest of South America and Central America.

  • Sloths live most of their lives hanging upside down.
  • Sloth mother gives birth in trees. After birthing, mother sloth scoops up her baby and places across her stomach.
  • Sloths are considered to be most closely related to anteaters.
  • Sloths have 2 extra vertebrae in their neck and they can turn their head 270 degrees.
  • Sloths can turn green.  It is a camouflage method. By growing a layer of algae. Sloths protect themselves from predators.
  • Sloths diet is primarily fruits and leaves.  
  • Sloths sleep on average 15-20 hours within a day.
  • Sloths have been around for 64 million years.
Adorable three toes sloths have lovable expression. But behind their heart shaped, smiling faces are complex and interesting animal who could teach humans to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Monitoring El Niño Winter Weather

Aloha Everyone,

According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), we might be having mild winter weather north of the Ohio River Valley, wet stormy patterns to the south and wetter days in California. This could be especially good news for Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi that are plagued by drought.

J.J. is optimistic that by beginning of March 2024, South Dakota would have drier, warmer weather. This is because that’s when we plan to drive Honu to South Dakota to renew our drivers licenses.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fall & Halloween Decors

Aloha Everyone,

Entrance to the Trader Joe’s store has bright, colorful displays of Fall & Halloween decors. I am always amazed as to how many variety of pumpkins are available. Most of them aren’t for eating and from our recent experience of trying to carve one, you might as well just paint them or draw designs on them and place them on your front porch or doorway.

On one of our cruises, chefs were showing off their pumpkin carving skills. First of all, those chefs had arms and hands that were at least 4 times bigger than mine. They used an electric torch and boning knife which from 10 feet away looked like me like carving a block of tofu.

In any case after spending about 20 minutes and nearly $100 for fresh organic fruits and veggies, plus one dozen organic eggs, J.J. and I came away with 4 bagful of healthy meal selections.

Among them are boxes of dark chocolate bars which are delicious and definitely give you a boost.

Aloha -- Cathi

Enough by Cassidy Hutchinson

Aloha Everyone,

Published by Simon & Schuster, her memoir was released in multiple medias today. The skill in which pre-arranged interviews inundated viewers on local news channels, CNN, CBS News, MSNBC and BBC was impressive.

“There is something freeing and liberating in having the confidence to stand in your own truth," Hutchinson, 26, says about writing her memoir, which covers her quick rise in politics — and what happened after she risked it all.  

“In the fabric of our nation’s history, there is a body of guardians who protect the sanctity of our republic.” - Cassidy Hutchinson

“His allegiance to the oath he swore is a reminder that the pursuit of justice is an obligation that should never wave. May his legacy continue inspiring future generations to find their moral compass in the face of adversity.” - Cassidy Hutchinson on Alexander Butterfield 

50 years separate these two remarkable public servants. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, this is an historical event for our nation.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, September 25, 2023

Lourdes, France

Aloha Everyone,

One of the interesting topics we discussed with J.J.’s cousins, Cory & Moira are their personal experiences with volunteering at Lourdes.

Lourdes, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains, is a town in southwestern France. The Sanctuaries Notre-Dame de Lourdes is one of three major Catholic pilgrimage sites. Millions of visitors come from around the world to visit the Grotto of Apparitions where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a young servant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Since the historical date of February 11, 1858 religious visitors to Lourdes come to procure holy water.

Prior to pandemic days, the grotto was opened to visitors and volunteers would assist pilgrims to drink or bathe in the flowing spring water. Today, the grotto is closed to visitors and one can no longer bathe in the spring, but pilgrims are permitted to procure water to take home and in lieu of bathing, volunteers would give them a container of holy water which they could sprinkle on themselves.

Today about 7 to 9 of J.J.’s relatives are back at Lourdes for a period of two weeks. Thereafter, the group is touring Spain and Portugal then to Rome, Italy. Volunteers must pay for their own transportation, accommodation and food but those who have participated say that it is a great honor to volunteer as a Catholic and truly an amazing experience.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Frank William Abagnale, Jr.

Aloha Everyone,

He was a liar, shameless impersonator with an immoral character who became infamous for cheating individuals and companies using his unusual talents, including forging bank checks. 2002 crime comedy drama, “Catch Me If You Can” was based on his semi-auto biography. Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent in playing the young Frank Abagnale, Jr. The highlights of the film was Frank Abagnale posing as a Pan American World Airways pilot, or a doctor in Georgia.

One has to remember that this is a film made for Hollywood entertainment and the degree of reality and truthfulness are not validated. Tom Hanks as the FBI agent in charge of bank fraud bring seriousness and integrity to the story.

Frank Abagnale born in 1948 did time in French prison, Swedish prison plus in the USA. Frank Abagnale eventually worked for the FBI bank fraud division for 20+ years, eventually settled in a rural community, got married, raised 3 sons and lived an ordinary life compared to his tumultuous teen years. 

Additional footnotes of the movie, Frank Abagnale and his consulting company are responsible for many of the security features added to personal and company checks.

Photo of Frank Abagnale circa 2008. 

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Capital Seafood at Monterey Park

Aloha Everyone,

Our get together with J.J.’s cousins, Cory and Moira was enjoyable. Friendly company, very good conversation including the latest travel stories from the clan. Yes the dim sum style dishes served on push carts ala Hong Kong was delicious!

This restaurant is so popular that we arrived by 11:00 am to beat the Saturday crowd. The design of the interior includes modular walls that can be expanded or contracted as needed.  At a glance, it was a wall to wall people.  All guest were seated at square tables. Aromas of freshly prepared Chinese food was overwhelming. J.J. and the cousins were ready. I don’t even know how a seating host found a vacant table. As soon as we were seated, J.J., Cory and Moira were busy motioning dim sum carts to put down plates of their choices.

Of the 10 dishes we ordered, I managed to photograph 8 before individual pieces were chopped and morsels consumed. My favorite dishes were steamed vegetables (Chinese spinach) and black sesame buchi (sweet buns).

After nearly 3 hours including Moira’s driving time, we parted company. The next time we make a date to go to another Chinese Restaurant, it will be LA Chinatown. J.J. and I are happy to have Cory and Moira who are more adventurous dining companions.

What happened to iPhone app is another story. I will find a solution.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, September 22, 2023

IOS 17 Update

Aloha Everyone

I am weary of things related to updating and free and no memberships required, no contact, terminate anytime with no repercussions. Sure, honestly? Our iPhones were bombarded with urgent messages of updates. Both of our phones are on automatic updates but they never get done automatically while you are sleeping.  

30 minutes into our breakfast and cutting into my morning walking hours, my iPhone still was leisurely taking its time. I know it’s just a phone but then who says Siri doesn’t have a caustic personality or annoying attitudes.

Still trying to figure out how my iPhone will navigate us to our lunch destination tomorrow.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Early Day Schedule

Aloha Everyone,

Even for us, today was an early day schedule. Last night a sheet of paper was slid under our main door informing us that a fire alarm monitoring company will access our unit starting at 8:00 am. Their task is to confirm that our sprinkler system is in compliant with the standards for the State of California.

I let the technicians in and J.J. remained in the room while I went walking. What is visibly different is the replacement of the rusted sprinkler head in our bathroom. J.J. said the water line connection had to be turned off and water in the pipe drained — his estimate is at least 80 gallons.

Enjoyed cool morning walk with sunrise and a great conversation with my son, Jeff. Our refrigerator is filled with fruits and veggies. My task is to design our daily meals so that JJ can enjoy balanced diet tilted towards vegetable protein.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Baby Boomers’ Care Crisis

Aloha Everyone,

More than 40% of the Baby Boomers can be categorized as “sandwich generation.” The number of our generation equal 25% of Americans. Many of them are either physically, financially and often emotionally taking care of their parents, grandparents, children and even grandchildren.  

When the two of us retired, gave up our home and moved from Hawaii to South Dakota, so many of our friends and clients asked us, ‘Why?” Now some of them are saying that they too should have made such drastic changes. With cost of living continuing to skyrocket, many are holding two or three jobs to stay afloat. Cost of basics necessities such as food, shelter, electricity and gas keep going up.

Prior to our retirement, we consulted our children who prepared actuarial tables for us based on our health history and financial resources. Recently our two sons reiterated their position and willingness to take care of us when we no longer have funds to take care of ourselves. When I mentioned this to J.J., he was miffed. The updated actuarial shows sufficient funds for 25 years, provided we don’t need assisted care.  

More incentives for the two of us to continue our daily walking and maintain our healthy life styles.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, September 18, 2023

Resourceful Entrepreneurs

Aloha Everyone,

Less than 3 minutes in length, today’s Apple News Audio broadcast had a story about the South of Border resourceful entrepreneurs with a unique business. They buy used clothes and shoes and bags from the USA, hire workers to sort and clean. It is time consuming work, but apparently with very small investments, potential rewards are substantial. The items are resold on line to Americans.

Goodwill and Salvation Army promote themselves as non-profits organizations. Volunteers are given job training and you can purchase in-store items at deep discounts.

After listening to today’s Apple News Audio Broadcast, I thought of a couple we knew in Arizona. On two occasions, when J.J. and I passed by and invited them out to lunch, they proudly told us that all their “brand names” items they were wearing cost less than $5 each.

On our recent Emerald Princess cruise, the two of us shared a breakfast table with a woman from Idaho. She was a devoted on-line shopper who constantly searches for “gently-used” brand name items. Funny how a term such as “gently-used” is acceptable. She told us that all her family, friends and grandchildren also receive “gently-used” items for their birthdays and Christmas.

When NBA and NFL teams are playing in the Finals, both teams logo items are printed. This is because as soon as the winner is announced, their logo hats and shirts must be ready to be worn by the team.  Losing team’s logo items are shipped to a third-world country, say an African nation.

What is bizarre turn of event is there are collectors who search for losing team’s logo items.  Potential for online businesses incorporating Ai search engine with target market are limitless and also disturbing.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, September 17, 2023

La Compagnie Boutique Airline

Aloha Everyone,

Travel & Leisure readers voted La Compagnie as their favorite international airline. At present, La Compagnie has just two Airbus A321 Neo planes.

The big selling point is that La Compagnie has just 76 lie-flat bed seats. With only 20 rows of business class seats, this mono-class configuration is as close to experiencing a ride in a private plane.

According to the Apple News article, tickets prices are reasonable. For example, a round trip flight between Newark, New Jersey and Paris, France starts at $2,400.

Free WiFi on board, excellent French cuisine and other Business Class services the two of us have been enjoying seems to be available on La Compagnie.

While there are definite comforts of traveling via cruise ships, J.J. and I are also looking to expand our travel routes and itineraries to more European cities. We will monitor La Compagnie especially when they offer discounted tickets.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Flu Shots

Aloha Everyone,

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), COVID levels are hovering near 2020’s pandemic’s initial peak.  

We belong to the high risk groups in terms of age, prior infections, effects of long COVID or other immunocompromised conditions.

J.J. and I felt great this morning and stopped at a Walmart pharmacy to inquire about the new COVID vaccine. There was an employee enthusiastically calling out to shoppers to get their flu shots. She explained the new COVID vaccine is expected in mid-October. So we got the flu shot.

As an expression of thanks for getting our flu vaccines, we each received a small packet. The only thing of value to us is 220 mg ALEVE plus a small tube of Eucerin Sensitive Mineral Face Sun Protection.

To alter our home dining menu, we went to Seafood City Supermarket for rice noodles and veggie and Shanghai lumpia. Next door at ChowKing, we ordered two boxes of Siopao with pork asado. These are our grandnephews’ favorite Chinese food. I telephoned my sister for her to pick up a box of steaming hot Siopao. 

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, September 15, 2023

The Knowledge of London - Test for Cab Drivers

Aloha Everyone,

The two of us have encountered Uber, Lyft, taxi and tour bus drivers who seemed clueless as to streets and neighborhoods in New York City and Los Angeles. Many rely on navigation apps on their iPhones. Some drivers are not only new to their jobs, but new to the area. Often English is not their primary language.  

To avoid any miscommunication, J.J. and I write down our destination on a sheet of paper and give it to the driver. Unfortunately delays due to wrong turns are expected. On one of our rides, the driver blatantly drove the wrong way on a one way street.

When I mentioned our unhappy experiences of taking a taxi, Uber or Lyfts to our son, Jeff, he shared with me an article about the Knowledge of London. The knowledge tests are mandatory exams to become a London taxi driver.  

The test has three components. The Geographical Test which is a written test that covers the layout of London, including the names of around 25,000 streets, 100,000 landmarks within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. 

The Fares Test covers the candidate’s knowledge of the taxi fares for different rides.

A driving test referred to as The Practical Test is when the candidate is required to navigate their way around London by memory. Absolutely no relying on GPS.

Some sources say that it could take 4 years to pass the Knowledge Test to become a London Cabbie. It is like getting a graduate degrees. One needs to focus and devote time and energy to pursue your dream.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Healthy Dining-in Menu at Extended Stay America, Week 1

Aloha Everyone,

Not only am I trying to walk more steps, but I am also trying to do my best to eat healthier these next few weeks. Here are some of the things I have consumed while at Extended Stay America this week.

Aloha -- Cathi