HORSE’S MOUTH: COLA Ain’t a Drink

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Before I get into today’s column, I want to thank the readers who sent me emails inquiring about my recent hospitalization.

It was not anything really serious. I guess I can attribute it to aging.

Oh well, let me get on with it.

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Okay, since I know there are a lot of JAs who go to Las Vegas, I thought, why not start out with a tidbit on Sin City?

A publication recently printed a story on the eight biggest losers who hit the casinos in Vegas. The list included a lot of well-known names, movie stars and pro athletes.

The biggest surprise was that the biggest loser in the casino was a Japanese American who reportedly lost at least $205 million, which included $120 million lost in one year in 2007.

My comment when I read the foregoing was “Wow!”

I guess I can’t moan and groan about losing $205 when a fellow JA dropped $205 million. Of course, I probably would miss my $205 more than he would miss his $205 million. He could probably afford it. Hey, let’s face it, $205 is a lot of money for a newspaper columnist.

No, I don’t have any Vegas trips on my schedule. Same excuse. No driver. If anyone out there wants to volunteer to serve as my driver, let me know and I’ll be ready to go

If anyone responds to this tidbit, my next column could have a Vegas dateline.

Speaking of Vegas, I don’t know if I mentioned it in any past column, but those of you who are thinking of moving to Vegas might be interested to know that the price of real estate has really dropped there.

Remember when property costs were around the $500,000 mark? Well, according to an article I saw in the Vegas newspaper, the average house in Vegas is now selling for $180,000.

Gee, with the price some real estate broker offered me for my house, maybe I should consider selling it and moving to Vegas. Heh, heh.

No way. I’ve been living in my Gardena house for nearly 60 years now and I can’t imagine living anywhere else, even Vegas.

Of course, I’m kind of curious what it is like to own and live in a house in Vegas. I know one friend who lives there, but I won’t mention any names. The person has been living there for about seven years and seems content with a Vegas address.

The thing I’m curious about is if those who live there spend a lot of time in any of the casinos. If not, what do they do with their spare time? That is, if they have any spare time.

Oh well.

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It’s hard to believe that in a few months Major League Baseball will be capturing the attention of American sports fans.

As far as Japanese Americans are concerned, they will be focusing on Shane Victorino, Kurt Suzuki, Brandon League and Kolten Wong.

I wasn’t aware of it, but all four began their baseball careers in Hawaii, playing in the JA Baseball League. The league in Hawaii is equivalent to the NAU in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, none of the players from our NAU were signed to play pro baseball.

I was aware that Victorino and Suzuki began their baseball careers in the Islands’ JA League, but not the other two.

Of the four, I guess we are most familiar with Victorino, who was with the Dodgers briefly.

Unless the local club signs pitcher Masahiro Tanaka from Japan, there will be no player  of Japanese ancestry on the Dodger roster this coming season.

I’ll still be rooting for them anyway.

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I was asked by several people if I was planning to hold a Santa Anita Assembly Center reunion again this year.

If I get enough former internees from the race track to say they will sign up, I will work on putting the event together.

Those who would attend should let me know by Saturday, Jan. 25. If I get at least 50 to sign up, I’ll pursue it. The last reunion drew about 50.

Since the race track knows about Japanese Americans being “housed” at the Santa Anita Assembly Center during the early months of World War II, they are glad to sponsor a reunion.

Of course, with the passing of time, there aren’t too many of us left, but at the past reunions, many brought along their children who wanted to know about our experience during “evacuation.”

Those interested can email me or send “snail mail” to The Rafu with the names of those who will attend.

The cost will be a little higher this time because admission and lunch prices have gone up a bit from past years.

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During the coming year, I may include a few more stories of Hawaii than I usually do because a friend has given me a subscription to The Hawaii Herald, a twice-a-month vernacular newspaper published in Honolulu.

I received my first copy for January and I did find a number of articles that might be of interest to Rafu readers, especially if they are former Islanders.

Of course, I can’t “steal” stories from The Herald, but I can refer Rafu readers to the articles.

For example, one of the stories in the first edition of 2014 had this headline: “Ring in the New Year with a COLA.” It was written by Jane Yamamoto.

Needless to say, I thought Miss Yamamoto was talking about toasting the new year with a cup of Coca-Cola.

Her article started out, “Many people are ringing in the new year with champagne. This year, people who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income will be a able to ring it up with COLA.” (In this case, COLA is short for Cost of Living Adjustment.)

“More than 60 million Americans are receiving a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment in their monthly benefit payment this year.

“The 1.5 percent COLA begins this month, January, with increased benefits for more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries. The average monthly Social Security payment for a retired worker is $1,294 in 2014, up from $1,275 in 2013.

“The average monthly Social Security disability payment for an individual is $1,148 in 2014, up from $1,131 in 2013.

“The basic monthly federal payment for SSI is $721, up from $710 in 2013.”

I’m a Social Security recipient, but I guess I won’t be dancing in the street for an $11 raise in my SS payment.

Some other changes will take place in January of each year, based on the increase in average wages.

Oh well, maybe COLA should stand for the soft drink. I’ll drink to that.

Although I’ve been writing for The Rafu for 24 years, I’m actually a retired person and do receive Social Security payments each month. I sure won’t be able to dash off to Las Vegas because of an $11-a-month increase in income.

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Like almost everyone, when I step onto an escalator, I don’t hold on to the handrail too tightly. The thought of what would happen if the escalator suddenly stopped never occurred to me.

Well, after reading a story in a Japanese newspaper, I may take a different approach the next time I go down an escalator.

In Kawasaki this week, an escalator in the train station stopped running and those on the “going down” side who were just standing on the steps fell forward.

One man was seriously injured and many others suffered minor injuries trying to grab onto the railing.

Those going up weren’t that badly affected.

I can imagine what would happen if a down escalator suddenly stopped. Most of those on the escalator would topple forward.

If the escalator is crowded, many will fall on each other, but if only a few people are on it, they will probably fall forward, and if one is still at the top of the escalator when the device stops suddenly, I can imagine what can happen.

So, as I said earlier, the next time I get on an escalator, usually at the California Hotel in Vegas, I’m going to make sure my hand is gripping the handrail. At least that will give me time to hold my balance.

A word of advice to all.

Yes, the Japanese man suffered major injuries because he fell from the top step to near the bottom.

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Time for my golfer friends to laugh:

1. A husband and wife are on the 9th green at a local golf club when suddenly she collapses from a heart attack. “Help me, dear,” she groans to her husband.

The husband calls 911 on his cell phone and talks for a few minutes, then picks up his putter and lines up his putt.

His wife raises her head off the green and stares at him.

“I’m dying here and you’re putting?’

“Don’t worry, dear,” says the husband, “they found a doctor on the second hole and he’s coming to help you.”

“Well, how long will it take him to get here?” she asks feebly.

“No time at all,” says the husband. “Everybody’s already agreed to let him play through.”

2. A young man and a priest are playing together. At a short par-3, the priest asks, “What are you going to use on this hole, my son?”

The young man says, “An 8-iron, Father. How about you?”

The priest says, I’m going to hit a soft 7 and pray.”

The young man hits his 8-iron and puts the ball on the green.

The priest taps his 7-iron and dribbles the ball out a few yards.

The young man says, “I don’t know about you, Father, but in my church when we pray, we keep our heads down.”

3. Police are called to an apartment and find a woman holding a bloody 3-iron standing over a lifeless man.

The detective asks, “Ma’am, is that your husband?”

“Yes,” says the woman.

“Did you hit him with that golf club?”

”Yes, yes, I did.” The woman begins to sob, drops the club and puts her hands on her face.

“How many times did you hit him?”

”I don’t know. He put me down for a five.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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