Ironic might be the right word to kick off today’s chatter. Why?

Well, this past Saturday evening, I punched in The Japan Times and learned about the disastrous flood that was sweeping across Kumamoto Prefecture and leaving about a dozen casualties.

So, what’s the irony?

On Sunday, the next day, I remembered I had an invitation to attend the annual picnic held by the Kumamoto Kenjin Kai.

I wondered if, maybe, the Kenjin Kai might postpone their event.

Well, I decided to drive out to Buena Park, where the event was being held. I showed up a bit late and found everyone enjoying themselves.

The president of the Kenjin Kai came over to tell me he was glad I showed up.

I explained to him that I had heard about the disaster in Kumamoto and thought maybe the group would cancel its event.

He said they had heard about what was happening in their homeland but there was no thought about canceling their annual get-together.

So the picnic went on with good food, entertainment and, yes, a raffle drawing.

Since there were only about 75 people in attendance and they gave away about 50 raffle prizes, I won a couple, including a bag of rice.

One thing I enjoy about the Kumamoto event is that there are a lot of Rafu subscribers, so those who do take our newspaper come up to me to tell me they read my stuff.

As I always comment, when people tell me they are readers, it’s great for my ego and I get to chat about what the readers are interested in as far as community activities are concerned.

Oh, before I forget to mention it, at the same park where the Kumamoto folks were gathered, there was another group in the far corner of the park. I found out it was the Fukushima Kenjin Kai.

I found out when I bumped into one of the Fukushima group who saw me and said, “Hello.”

So we chatted for a while and I learned that it was strictly a coincidence that two prefectures held a get-together at the same park on the same date.

At any rate, it was an enjoyable weekend for me and my wife, and I’ll have a sack of rice to dine on for the next few weeks.

I want to thank the Kumamoto folks for inviting me.

If those of you who are good enough to follow my twice-a-week chatter are reading this, then my computer trouble is not holding me back. I’m wondering because since I began today, my computer is giving me nothing but problems.

For one thing, it keeps going off.

I called my son and all he could tell me was that he was too busy at work to drop by and that I should keep banging away.

Actually, I guess it’s silly for me to even toss in this paragraph because if my PC doesn’t want to work, there won’t be a column today.

Yeah, I know a lot of people will be cheering when they see a blank Page 4 (where I am usually placed) in the Tuesday edition of the newspaper.

Well, that’s life.

So, assuming that my PC will be working, I’ll continue on…

Since it’s been almost three months since my last trip to Vegas, several friends have asked me, “Hey, what’s the problem? No Vegas for such a long time.”

They’re right. This is the longest I’ve been away from my favorite place in quite a while.

The next question, of course is, “How come, are you broke?”

I just laugh when I hear something like that.”

Actually, it’s because I can’t drive as frequently as I used to. When one of my sons volunteers to drive me, I have no problem, but they have their schedule, so I can only fit in my travel according to their schedule.

I can fly, but I don’t think there are too many people who play the quarter slots who do so. That doesn’t mean that people don’t fly to Vegas.

Next week, McCarran International Airport is opening its gleaming, new $2.4 billion Terminal 3.

A travel industry spokesman said, “Vegas is a city that’s known for bold and daring architecture at its hotels, so you want an airport to be part of that experience. It’s the first experience a traveler will have when they arrive.”

The new terminal will have 14 gates.

Oh well, who knows, I might try out the new terminal one of these days. No, I’ll still be sitting at my quarter machine.

By the way, I’ll be going in 10 days.

If my Vegas friend Rosie is tuned in today, we’ll be able to have breakfast next Monday.

JA horse racing fans probably noticed that jockey Corey Nakatani has been riding at Hollywood Park over the past few days. Not only that, another rider named Fukushima has also been on a few mounts.

Unfortunately, both have yet to get to the winner’s circle.

I would guess that Nakatani has returned to the local racing scene to participate at Del Mar, which opens this week. I say this because Corey likes Del Mar.

Yes, I did bet on a couple of Corey’s mounts at Hollywood, which means I had to eat at McDonald’s.

Oh well…

Let’s face it. I’m not looking for the Dodgers to win the league title, let alone end up going to the World Series.

Yes, you can say you read it here first. Why?

Well, for one thing, they can’t hit. So they have to depend on pitching and their two starting pitchers, Kershaw and Billingsley, can’t do it.

The first question that comes to mind: Wow come they let go of Japanese ace Hiroki Kuroda, who now has won 11 games for the New York Yankees?

I read about Kuroda’s life in Japan and about what he went through to become one of the greatest pitchers over there. The Dodgers certainly gave him the opportunity to become one of their starters. I’m curious why the L.A. media never questioned Kuroda’s move to the Yankees.

They sure could use a 10-game winner about now.

Oh well, I’m a newspaper columnist. What do I know?

If I think that I’m having a tough time fighting my computer, I have to apologize to Maggie, who has to figure out what I’m trying to say with the messy results I’m putting on the pages.

For one thing, I’m hunting and pecking on the keyboard, so I keep hitting the wrong keys, which I don’t know that I’m doing until I go back and read what I typed.

Sorry, Maggie. Maybe it is time for me to hang ’em up.

As one fellow I chatted with at the Kumamoto event told me, “Hey, Horse, you’re going to be a year older this week (birthday is Thursday) and nobody 87 years old should be toiling away like you do.”

Thanks a lot. Maybe the guy is right.

(Maggie’s comment: No need to apologize, Mr. Y. You’re “trotting” fine and just keep “galloping.” It’s not a matter of age, it’s the gray matter. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

Gosh, the guy is right. I will add another year this week.

I want to thank three people who sent me birthday cards to remind me that now I’m older than my Issei father, who passed away at age 70.

Well, I guess most Nisei today are a lot older than their Issei parents. Isn’t that food for thought?

One thing that has changed with the passing of time is that my sons seemed to have forgotten that their “old man” is having a birthday.

Oh well, all that means is that I won’t be getting any cigars to celebrate my birthday, which mean the Indian cigar store will be making a few extra bucks.

Time for a letter. In this case, an email. A reader wrote:

“Horse, you mentioned in a recent column that your neighbor of 50-plus years sold his place and moved away. Did your new neighbor move in yet? And have you gotten to meet them? The reason I ask is that my neighbor of just a dozen years has moved away and I’m curious about how to react to new neighbors.

“Well, they are a Chinese couple. My wife has chatted with them, but I have yet to meet them. My wife tells me they are very friendly. Since I’m sure they don’t read The Rafu, I guess I could make any comment I want and they wouldn’t know what their new neighbor is like.”

As I often say, heh, heh.

I haven’t pounded on a typewriter keyboard for at least 20 years or even more, but I am going to do so for my next column because my computer has won the battle. I just can’t write anything the way I’m going now.

In fact, I tried calling Editor Gwen to inform her there would no “Horse’s Mouth” this week, but I decided that it would be too sudden to do so, so here I am at 1:05 a.m. trying to complete Tuesday’s column. The only time I stay up this late is sitting at a slot machine in Vegas.

Oh well, I guess I’ll have to sleep until noon tomorrow.

Enough about moaning about my computer problems.

One thing for sure. I’m going to investigate if I can find another option on how to set my column or give it up.

Again, a note to those of you who are horse racing fans.

You probably know about Kentucky Derby Preakness winner I’ll Have Another being sold and shipped to Japan for breeding purposes.

The Japanese buyer paid $10 million for I’ll Have Another, which topped the $3 million offer by an American breeder.

This doesn’t surprise me.

A couple of decades back, I was asked to negotiate a purchase of a race horse by a Japanese buyer, so I accompanied the Japanese to Santa Anita, where they saw a horse they liked.

They didn’t even inquire what the asking price might be. They just made an offer, which the U.S. owner gobbled up. Checking around later, I learned that the price offered was almost double what the owner expected. Kind of like the $10 million vs. $3 million in the I’ll Have Another sale.

Well, these days horse racing in Japan is five times better than in the U.S., so it’s easy to understand.

I guess I have enough left to leave with a chuckle:

A blonde goes for an interview. The interviewer starts with the basics. “So, Miss, can you tell me your age?”

The blonde counts carefully on her fingers for about 30 seconds before replying, “Ehh, 22.”

The interviewer says, “And can you tell me your height?”

The blonde stands up and produces a measuring tape. She holds down one end under her foot, extends the other end to the top of her head and announces, “5’2.”

This isn’t looking good, so the interviewer says, “And just for the record, what is your name?”

The blonde shakes her head from side to side for about 20 seconds and replies, “Mandy.”

The interviewer is completely baffled, so he asks, “Just out of curiosity, I can understand your counting on your fingers to work out your age and using the measuring tape for your height, but what were you doing when I asked your name?”

“Oh that,” she replied. “I was running through ‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.’”

Okay, not that funny.

Wow! I’m finished and it’s 1:45 a.m.

Ohayo gozaimasu, mina-san.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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