HORSE’S MOUTH: Robot Cheerleaders, Eh What?

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Oct. 21, 2014)

I was sitting in front of my computer, staring at a blank screen. My wife stuck her head in the door and asked, “What are you doing, just sitting there?”

I told her what was happening and she said, “Well, you’d better call Gwen and tell her you won’t have a column tomorrow.”

Wow! I thought. After 25 years of pounding out two columns every week, I was going to miss one for the first time?

I kept hitting different keys on the computer and lo and behold, it suddenly began working, so here I am.

Hopefully, the darn computer doesn’t break down again.

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The incident made me think about a lot about writing for The Rafu all these years.

When Naomi Hirahara, the English editor of The Rafu before Gwen, asked me to contribute to the paper when I announced my retirement from The Kashu Mainichi, I never imagined I would be hanging around for all these years, especially since I’m going to be hitting my 90th birthday in July.

To fill a page twice a week for the publication, I have to do a lot of reading to keep my mind active enough to complete the task.

My reading is fulfilled by reading several newspapers each day, which means I subscribe to six newspapers and get a couple of more donated to me by my friends.

The various other publications give me leads on stories I can develop.

Well, enuff said on this matter.

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Okay, let me continue today’s chatter.

So, what else can I toss in but my favorite city (outside of L.A.), which everyone knows is Las Vegas.

Since most of the people I know (Nisei) who frequently visit Vegas don’t go outside of the casino once they arrive, they may not be aware of the weather conditions that exist there.

Would you believe dust pollution? That’s right. There’s lots of dust stirring up in Vegas. In fact, they’ve had a 21-year push to limit dust pollution there.

The fight against dust in the Vegas region has paid off.

The Environmental Protection Agency has given the city a clean bill of health and the city will reclassify the airborne standard for Vegas.

So, if you visitors aren’t having too much luck at the gaming tables and want to step outside, you can expect to find cleaner air.

Just thought some of you Vegas-goers might like to know, especially the older JAs, who are most bothered by the dust.

Yeah, my next scheduled visit to Vegas will be early December. That would be a year and six months since my last trip there.

Anybody want to lend me a nickel?

Yeah, heh, heh, to you, too.

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Since the story about a float in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena broke, the search is on for AJA vets to ride on the community float, and there may be a few Nisei vets from Hawaii participating.

The newspapers in the Islands are running stories about the search for JA vets, so I’m sure a few Island Nisei might be included.

I think that’s great. In fact, I think the people searching for JA vets to ride the float should secure a couple of seats for Island vets.

After all, the 100th/442nd was originally an Island unit.

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robot cheerleadersOkay, all of you football fans who go to games and enjoy seeing the cheerleaders may be in for a surprise in the near future if Murata Manufacturing of Japan introduces the world’s first cheerleading robots.

The robots, which Murata displayed last week, balance on balls and wave plastic pompoms. At a demonstration in Tokyo, the robots moved round in circles to the bouncy accompaniment of pop music.

The robots, which look like small girls, show what electronics can do. They use ultrasonic microphones and infrared sensors to share their position on the field. A central control system issues directives based on the signals from the robots.

So, will we seem them perform when USC plays UCLA at a local football game?

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A reader, Jeri Fujioka-Wickstrom, emailed the following to me. I showed it to my wife, who drives our car, and she said, “Put it in your column. It might help a lot of people.” So here is the letter:

“While driving on a rural end of the roadway, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the rode with a blanket draped over it.

“For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the police department and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the police advised even before they went there to check.

“There are several things to be aware of. Gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women) to stop their cars and get out of their vehicles. There is a gang initiation reported by the local police department where gangs are placing car seats by the road with a fake baby in it, waiting for a woman to stop and check the abandoned baby.

“Note that the location of the car is usually beside a wooded or grassy area and the person will be dragged into the woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead. If it’s a man, they’re usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.

“Do not stop for any reason. Dial 911 and report what you saw, but don’t even slow down.

“Warning Number 2: If you are driving at night and eggs are thrown on your windshield, do not stop to check your car. Do not operate the wipers and do not spray any water because eggs mixed with water become milky and block your vision up to 95 percent, and you are then forced to stop beside the road and become a victim of these criminals.

“This is a new technique used by gangs.

“These are desperate times and these are unsavory individuals who will take desperate measures to get what they want.

“Talk to your loved ones about this … Be careful and be aware of everything going on around you so as not to become the victim.

“You may want to send this to every man, woman and youngster. It may well save a life. This applies to all 50 states.”

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Oh yeah, I opened today’s chatter by saying that I read a lot of newspapers because I often come across items from other areas of the U.S. that otherwise I might not get my hands on. This is especially true with obituaries.

After the evacuation of Japanese Americans when World War II started, most of us were separated from old friends we grew up with and lost touch with many of them, so unfortunately, when some of them pass away, we might not even know about it.

I thought about this the other day when reading The Pacific Citizen, which had a notice about an old friend with whom I grow up in the San Jose area. We started life together as kindergarten kids and stayed together until our senior year in high school when evacuation pulled us apart. It said he was living in San Francisco when he passed suddenly.

We both went to Heart Mountain, but I entered the Army and he went out to take a job, and that was the last we saw each of other.

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I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I have to see my physician at least once a month.

During my visit the other day, the doctor’s nurse asked me why I was losing weight.

It’s the first time I was ever told I was losing weight, so I had to reply, “I don’t know.”

Yes, I did cut back on eating rice, but I’ve been eating rice most of my life and never had any weight problems.

So, I kiddingly told my wife, “Give me my third bowl of rice because I’m losing weight.”

She laughed and said, “No, stick to your one chawan (bowl).”

But I can say that back about 40 years ago, I once hit the scale at 230 pounds. I was playing football in those days, so I thought it was great.

Oh well, being 165 pounds ain’t so bad. That’s what I weighed today, according to my physician’s nurse.

Yes, I eat out more than I used to, but according to a recent survey, 66 large chain restaurants have been citing falling calorie counts.

Maybe if I go back to Japanese eateries and consume my usual third bowl of gohan, the nurse might tell me, “George, you’re getting fat.”

Oh well.

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Okay, I guess I’ll wind up today’s chatter with a piece on Natalie Tanaka.

Yeah, I know most will say, “Who is she?”

Well, maybe by the end of 2014, everyone will know who she is.

Natalie is a 16-year-old golfer on the Camarillo High School team, and she leads the team in scoring.

Only a junior at Camarillo, she scored a season-best nine-hole score for her school against Moorpark High School.

Tanaka has progressed since joining the Camarillo team as a freshman.

She grew up playing softball for Camarillo and decided to try golf as a seventh-grader.

When she started hitting the golf ball like a baseball player, she said, “I was hitting the ball pretty far,” so she decided to take up golf.

With Natalie leading the way, Camarillo started this season with a 5-0 win/loss record.

Needless to say, I’m sure we’ll be reading and hearing about her as she continues on to college (or maybe give up school to play pro golf).

So you JA golf fans, keep the name Natalie Tanaka in your file.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in the column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

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