Friday, January 29, 2010


When I was a kid, I noticed a framed, black and white photograph of a very distinguished man in my maternal grandmother’s bedroom. That man was my grandfather. Much to my chagrin, his head was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Now, I may not have been the sharpest knife in the tool shed, but I didn’t need a crystal ball to tell me I was going to have a chrome dome in due time.

A lot of people are excessively obsessed with their hair. Women (and sadly men) spend hours in front of the mirror each morning brushing their hair, applying hair spray, mousse, or gel, curling, straightening, or spiking, blow drying, coloring, highlighting, and a slew of other manipulations. Then, throughout the day they glance into every mirror, window, or any available reflective surface to make sure all 7,592 hairs are exactly where they left them. Curly haired women want straight hair and straight haired women want curly hair.  Blonds want to be brunette and brunettes want to be blond. Asian and African-American women also want to be blond, which is very strange. Nobody wants to be a redhead, but I think they’re hot….and hot-headed.

In my estimation, Americans spend billions of dollars on hair care products and services each year. I searched the Internet to determine the market value of hair care products in the United States, but was unable to find any information. I was, however, able to find some information for Italy. The people of Italy spend an estimated $3.2 billion on hair care products each year. If we assume there are 60 million people in Italy and 300 million people in the US, we can estimate the US hair care market value at $16 billion (five times $3.2B). Given the average Italian is 20% hairier than the average American, we can reduce the US estimate by 20%, resulting in a value of $12.8 billion. That’s a lot of greenbacks (and Lira’s)!

So why do Americans spend so much money on hair? As one who has had the opportunity to live with and without hair, I am firmly of the opinion that hair is overrated. I started buzzing my own hair with electric clippers in 1995. It was convenient because I didn’t need to drive to the barber shop and wait in line….and best of all, it was free. I let my hair grow out for several months in 2009 and quickly came to the conclusion that it’s really a hassle and expense I don’t need….so I’m back to buzzing.

My recommendation to everyone, male or female, is to buzz your heads, just once. The experience will be enlightening and refreshing. The total lack of vanity will free your spirit and help you focus on life's more important priorities. There are only two people who should be concerned about hair, 1) People with ugly heads and 2) Samson. Quite honestly, I think Samson was a bit overly obsessed with his hair, but did he really deserve to get his eyes poked out?

Here's a picture I call "California Girls" -- Leanna and Suzy, enjoying a ride in the beautiful California sun.  If you ever need to purchase a wig (e.g., for chemo treatment, evening job, Halloween, etc.), check out Valley Rags in Dublin, CA.  The people there are very compassionate and helpful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parenting 101

I was fortunate enough to have been reared in a strong, two-parent family structure.  Although my parents were “sansei” (third generation, Japanese-Americans), they retained much of the traditional Japanese culture and instilled in us the importance of honor, dignity, pride, and family.  When we had trouble understanding these concepts, they used various learning tools to help us comprehend.  For example, my father always taught us to work together and not fight, for there will be times when family is all we have to rely on.  On one occasion, my brother and I got into a fight, obviously not understanding the full meaning of family.  My dad proceeded to take us outside and creatively used a 2x4 to illustrate his point.  My brother and I quickly grasped the concept and never fought again….well, at least not in front of my dad.

I believe being a parent is the most important job there is in our society.  It is so important my wife does it on a full-time basis, without the distractions and time-constraints of a professional career.  Like our parents before us, we believe having a parent at home is best for our children and worth the sacrifices.  We don’t have the biggest house, nicest cars, coolest electronics, etc., but I think we have a couple of good kids, which is priceless in comparison.

So by now, you are probably asking yourself, “Self, where is this blog headed?”  Well, let me answer that question with a question.  If being a parent is so important, why don’t Americans spend more time and effort being better parents?  Children need more than food, water, clothing, and shelter.  They need love, support, guidance, morals, and values.  Too many people bring children into this world without appreciating and accepting the responsibilities associated with being a parent.  I have a number of troubling examples to share with you.

Social Services Exhibit A:
Growing up, boys played baseball, football, or basketball.  We shot tin cans with sling-shots, built ramps with plywood and jumped them with our bikes, cut honey bees in half with scissors, went camping with the Boy Scouts, torched cockroaches with hairspray and matches, played mandatory tackle football with our eldest brother in the yard, and threw rotten mangoes at Da Bus........but, we DID NOT wear women’s shoes.
Social Services Exhibit B:
Our mom drove us to baseball practice, spanked us when we were bad, comforted us when we were down, and fed us dry and overcooked chicken thighs for dinner.  But, she NEVER put lipstick on me or my three brothers….or my sister for that matter.

Social Services Exhibit C:
This boy is playing with a pink duck and his favorite backpack is rainbow colored…and worst of all, his mother thinks it’s okay!  We have a pizza place here called Gay Nineties Pizza, located in a historic building in beautiful downtown Pleasanton…never been there.  I think it’s okay to be mahoo (macho) or bakla (brilliant), but I’ve taught my kids to go in through the “In” door and not the “Out” door.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hawaii II

Here are a few more pictures from Hawaii.

Hanging out and relaxing, as the sun slowly descends south toward the horizon.

Diamond Head Eclipse - sun setting behind Diamond Head crater.

Coconut trees in Waikiki.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I'm in Hawaii for my auntie's funeral. I don't like funerals. But then again, I don't know many folks who like funerals. What I don't understand is if nobody likes funerals, why is everyone dying to have one?

Starting a new year with a funeral sucks. But it could be family could have been from Calgary. No offense to our neighbors to the North, but I've been to Calgary in the winter and there's only one word to describe it...SUPER-FREEZING-COLD!  If I have to go to a funeral, I'd rather it be in Hawaii.

Here are a few pictures from Hawaii.  The picture at the opening of the blog entry is the back side of Diamond Head crater, bathing in the morning light.

This is a beautiful Hawaiian sunrise.  I love how the sky appears almost heavenly.  I also love that this is the view from my brother's lanai -- so I get to enjoy this view every morning.

Not to rub it in, but here are a few more pictures.  I call the one on the left "My Brother's Pool."  I called it this because 1) it is a pool and 2) my brother owns it.  Technically, his wife owns half of it, but "My Brother and his Wife's Pool" didn't have the same ring to it.  The picture on the right is some plumeria flowers from his neighbor's yard.

Lastly, here is a picture I call "Chinese Terrorists."  I appreciate the fact that they are wearing hard hats.  Exploding one's self is very dangerous, particularly in a high-rise building, so a hard hat is a very good idea.

Friday, January 15, 2010

GPS – Who Needs It?

My brother has a slick Lexus IS350, fully loaded, including navigation. He really loves his nav and doesn’t know how he ever lived without it. I don’t have a GPS unit for my car and for the last year or so, I was thinking about getting a Garmin. Prices have dropped dramatically and the new models have tons of features, but I just never pulled the trigger. Quite frankly, I am starting to wonder, do I really need it?

First of all, I am married. My wife tells me where to go (even when we’re not driving, but that’s a different topic), when to speed up, when to slow down, where to turn, when I’m following too closely….well, you get the picture. Speaking from experience, married men do not need GPS…now if there was only a way to turn down the volume on the wife.

Secondly, as of June 2009, I am the proud owner of a teenager and he is quickly becoming adept at providing me Garmin/wife-like guidance. His user-interface is slightly different than my wife’s, but equally functional. Just the other night, we were driving to Sport Chalet to get a urinal picture and on the way home, he spouted “whoa, whoa, whoa”….which translated into, “please slow down.” I heeded his guidance and slowed down….and asked him if the expression for me to speed up is, “giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up.” Sorry, I digress. My point is, if my wife ever gets laryngitis, I have an effective back-up.

Anyway, I ended up inheriting a Garmin from my brother in-law when he moved back to Guam. I’m pretty sure the GPS satellite constellation covers Guam, so I can only speculate on the reasons for his generous donation. I’m thinking either Guam is so small only an idiot would need GPS or perhaps he is planning on getting married soon. Now that I have a GPS, the question is, “do I need it?” Honestly, I don’t. The Garmin sits idle in the center console….while my wife tells me where to go, how to get there, and how fast I should be going. Thanks Dear.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Urinal Etiquette

I was in the restroom at work the other day and this guy in the next urinal glanced over to me as I was taking care of my business.  I am therefore compelled to discuss a topic near and dear to a lot of men, although not surprisingly, not near and dear to many women….urinal etiquette.

Back in the 1999 timeframe, while in the Air Force, I was traveling with an NCO. We successfully completed our official business and were returning home to California. We stopped off at the airport bathroom to drain the lizard and to change out of our uniforms into civilian clothes. I utilized proper urinal etiquette, using the available urinal, and stepped back to change clothes. The NCO proceeded to use the urinal…..then started cursing at another bathroom patron. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I suspected someone wasn’t exercising proper urinal etiquette. Once the NCO calmed down, I inquired into the cause of his outburst. Well, apparently the onlooker was checking out the NCO’s manhood and raised his eyebrows with approval. Clearly a violation of proper urinal etiquette!

There’s a lot of information on the Internet concerning urinal etiquette. Google “proper urinal etiquette” and you’ll get a ton of information that one would never get from Miss Manners.

Here's a quick summary of proper urinal etiquette:

Look straight ahead.  Do not look to the left or right and definitely mind your own business.  Either look straight ahead or at the ceiling.

No conversations. Do not engage your neighbor in conversation, even if he is a friend or colleague. Nothing is so important it can't wait sixty seconds.

Do not select a vacant urinal adjacent to an occupied one.  This will place your neighbors in a very uncomfortable situation.  Select a vacant urinal two urinals over, leaving a vacant one between you and the next guy.

Don’t pick the middle urinal if there are only three. If there are three urinals and you are alone, do not select the middle one.  Refer to the rule above.

No noises.  I can appreciate the relief of finally draining one's bladder, especially if it was preceded with the dreaded pee-pee dance...but don’t express your satisfaction by making strange noises.  Personally, I don't want to hear a guy moaning within fifty feet of my exposed wee-wee.

Shake it, Don’t Spray It.  Give your Johnson a gentle shake, but don't be a wanker and get it all over you, the floor, or your neighbor’s shoes. And remember, if you shake it more than three times, you’re playing with it.

I took this photo in the Sport Chalet restroom in Pleasanton, California.  Please be sure to visit your local Sport Chalet store.  They have great gear, outstanding service, and the restrooms are extremely clean.

Also note the single urinal - a great way to minimize urinal etiquette violations.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Auntie Pearl

On Friday, I will be traveling to Hawaii, my childhood home, to attend the funeral of my beloved Auntie Pearl. She passed away unexpectedly at the young age of 77 years.

Auntie Pearl was never married, but she was like a second mother to her nephews and nieces. When I was about 11 years old, she promised to take me and my brother to see Star Wars (circa. 1977). The only catch was we had to get haircuts. As a boy growing up in Hawaii in the 70's, that was not a trivial request. Nonetheless, we got our prerequisite haircuts and saw the movie. IT WAS NOT WORTH IT!! The next Star Wars movie I saw was in 1999...and only because it was a company team building exercise.

When our daughter was born, we gave her the middle name “Chieko,” which was Auntie Pearl’s middle name. We didn’t know the meaning of Chieko, but I explained to my daughter that it meant “Little Chihuahua.” I believe “ko” in Japanese means “little” or “small” so this translation was totally plausible.

I have since been blessed with wisdom. At Auntie Pearl’s ceremony, a Japanese priest explained the meaning of Chieko:




is the basic form of “to know” as in shiru, or 知る。Adding the sun, or 日on the bottom is a more profound kind of divine knowledge, as in wisdom from the heavens. Wisdom vs. knowledge. The priest also explained that知is a person (left) speaking (right). Therefore, knowledge. On top of the sun, and it’s divine wisdom, as in speaking from the heavens.

means blessing.

Wisdom and Blessing.  Blessed with wisdom.

26 January 2010 - Correction:
The priest was looking at the wrong kanji (Chinese characters) for Chieko.  While clearing out Auntie Pearl's apartment, we came across the correct kanji for her name.  The correct kanji for Chieko is:


Chi e ko

千 = One Thousand

恵 = Blessing

子 = Child

Monday, January 11, 2010

San Francisco

I spent a lovely weekend in San Francisco, celebrating my belated 17th wedding anniversary.  Coincidentally, it was my wife's 17th anniversary as well, so we decided to celebrate it together.  It was a great time to rest, relax, and enjoy each other's company, sans work, kids, computers, and all of life's unending interruptions.

Whilst I may have left my corny heart in San Francisco, I was inspired to start a blog documenting the year, hopefully with photos.


Fleur de Lys is Hubert Keller's restaurant in San Francisco.  If you ever want to score big points (or just score), take your wife to Fleur de Lys for dinner (  The food, service, and ambiance are superb.

Here's a view of Powell Street, San Francisco, from the Sir Francis Drake hotel.  I love the architecture and the solitude in the city on this brisk winter evening.

This photo makes me wonder....does the driver of the red car have proof of insurance?