Friday, February 17, 2017

Going Green

 For the past 30 plus years of my life, my vehicle of choice has always been a pick-up truck. No, not the brawny, macho kind like a Ram, Silverado, or an F-150, but the semi-wimpy Datsun/Nissan or Toyota. My first truck was a brown 1984 Datsun King Cab with a 5 speed manual transmission. Crude, tin canny but reliable and fun to drive, it came in handy hauling our particle board furniture to our new home back in 1985. Though I loved revving that truck through its 5 gears, several episodes of whiplash injury while trying to teach my wife the intricacies of throttle-clutch timing convinced me that a pick-up with an automatic transmission was a good compromise. I would have my truck and it would allay my recurring nightmares of she stalling the truck while making a left turn into three lanes of oncoming traffic on Kapiolani Boulevard...with me in the passenger seat.

That automatic pick-up came in the form of a 1993 Nissan Hardbody King Cab with a peppy 3.0 liter V6. I could not afford it new, so I purchased it second hand from a Mercedes dealership. Alas, my wife decided she didn't like driving the truck because it was "too big." So, here I was, with an auto-transmission pick-up with my right arm constantly searching for the stick shift, and a slowly atrophying left leg. Well, as time went on, not having to shift while creeping through the H-1 gridlock really spoiled me.

The King Cab could haul and carry the kids in a pinch with its rear jump seats. Thus when it came time to replace the Nissan, I turned to the 2005 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab (auto transmission, of course), with its spacious rear bench seat and four doors. Unlike the Datsun/Nissan, this truck was solid. It had been the most dependable vehicle I've ever owned, carried passengers quite comfortably, and served me well through my last days of my career.

Notice that the previous sentence uses past-tenses? *Sigh* Yup, I'm no longer a truck guy. That Tacoma lately sat in the garage, rarely used. The kids are out of the house, so not many passengers to carry. And in my older age (and retired) I am not hauling junk around like I used to. So today, with a tear in my eye, I kissed my beloved Tacoma goodbye and traded her in for a 2017 Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid. With its combined 34 MPG, it's certainly a greener alternative than all my trucks were. When need to, it can carry passengers as well as haul light cargo with the rear seats down. I know that I'll get sneers from brawny SUV and pick-up drivers, but hey, I'll go further on a gallon of gas. The new RAV-4 joins our current 2006 V-6 RAV-4 (both silver in color) in the garage.

And BTW, we'll become even greener when we get our 2017 Toyota Prius Prime next month. Out with the 20 MPG older RAV-4, and in with a Prius Prime with 133 MPGe.

As I've said before, green is my favorite color.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Beautiful Light

...she left us in her very dignified way...
still beautiful as ever.

Aloha Mom...


Thursday, October 13, 2016


his life slowly ebbs
sister expresses her love
cradling his hand

Friday, September 30, 2016

Farewell King Tin

It was a misty and chilly fall night in 2005. Big Sis and I were in an unfamiliar town after a two and a half hour drive from Portland. Yes, two and a half hours for a drive that should have taken less than two hours, navigating with a map by flashlight, pre-Google Maps/GPS/ smartphone days, and getting a little lost in Albany after exiting the I-5 prematurely. We were in Corvallis past midnight, home of Oregon State University and the Beavers, and a huge paradigm shift from our tropical Asia/Pacific comfort zone. Big Sis had chosen OSU to pursue her education goals.

After checking in to our hotel with empty tummies, we headed for the nearest 24 hour food joint called Shari's. Perusing the menu was when the culture shock really hit: Country Fried Steak. Quiche. Chicken and Waffles. Potatoes that were french fried, hash browned, mashed, or baked. Whaat? No saimin? No plate lunch with mac salad? How about two scoops of rice with those eggs??? Nope! Shari's was no Zippy's *sigh*. After sating ourselves with semi-foreign food, we headed back to our room to ponder whether my poor daughter could survive such a harsh environment. That's when it happened: her laptop took a tumble from her backpack and the screen went blank.

The following day at the OSU bookstore, there was an Asian gentleman attending the register where the computers and peripherals were being sold. He must have sensed our bewilderment from our glazed over eyes and hung-open mouths. He came over to assist us, and though he couldn't help salvage the broken laptop screen, he did casually mention that famous Corvallis Chinese eatery, King Tin. "You ought to try their dry cooked string beans...mmmm, my favorite." It must have been some sort of telepathic messaging from one chopsticker to another that he would even mention Chinese food in the midst of the surrounding technology. "Thanks for the tip," I said, and quickly Big Sis and I were off to NW 9th. The laptop screen could wait.

My previous experience with Chinese food on the mainland was not memorable. In Peoria Illinois, I had stir-fried chicken and vegetables consisting mainly of bok choy with chicken skin. And then of course, there's the proverbial deep fried egg rolls with some sort of goopy orange sauce, or General Tso's (who?) chicken. But my enormous craving for rice made those traumatic experiences a distant memory. We walked into King Tin, and there was just smattering of diners in the fairly large dining area. The friendly hostess led us to an open table where we apprehensively took our seats. The menu seemed authentic enough, and the prices, well let's just say that they were the antitheses of Honolulu pricing. And then I found it - Dry Cooked String Beans! When the server came to take our order, that was the first dish I blurted out, along with Vegetable Chow Mein, and Lemon Chicken (okay, so deep fried chicken with goopy yellow sauce.) Oh, and steamed RICE!!!

When the dishes came, we were floored by the enormity of them all! Each dish was roughly three times the size of similar dishes back home, and once we started shoveling food into our mouths, we were back in our comfort zones. The food was delicious, and if I may say so, more tasty than many Chinese restaurants back home. And yes Mr, Asian Tech Man, the string beans were the best we've ever had! Leftovers were reheated the next morning for our breakfast, and during my short stay in Corvallis, we patronized King Tin several times.

Big Sis spent a total of seven years in Corvallis pursuing her pharmacy degree. She was joined by Lil' Sis in 2008, and they both graduated in 2012. During those years, we must have dined at King Tin maybe a dozen times when visiting Corvallis, the warm and friendly staff always serving us with a smile. We loved King Tin so much that our graduation dinner for the two girls was held there in 2012.

We have never been back to Corvallis since, but always had it in our plans to visit the college town in the future, and of course dine at King Tin again. But we were floored to hear of the recent shuttering of the restaurant. Sadly, it looks like an unrenewed lease issue spelled the demise of the restaurant, whose good food comforted us during those initial rough days in Corvallis, and sated us throughout our OSU years.

Alas King Tin, only a memory now.
Thanks for the comfort food.
Thanks for the friendly service.
Thanks for the memories.