By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
Just got back from you-know-where.
I was ready to jump in the sack to recoup from three days in Vegas.
My wife reminded me, “This is Wednesday. Don’t you have to write your Saturday column?”
So here I am sitting at the keyboard of my computer.
Before I started writing this column, I had to clear my PC of all the email, which was down from the usual numbers I used to get in the past when I was out of town.
Usually, I would get about 120. Today I only had to get rid of 86.
So it took me about an hour to read each before I erased them.
Okay, getting on with today’s chatter.
This was one of my worst trips as far as playing in the casino was concerned.
In the three-day trip, I didn’t hit one win. It isn’t often that happens.
I ran into a lot of friends and they told me the same thing and asked, “Did the casino tighten its machines?”
There were a lot of familiar faces because Al Morita’s basketball participants gathered to celebrate.
Al said 500 people attended the banquet.
No wonder I couldn’t find a parking space at the California Hotel’s parking garage.
Of course, I ran into a lot of JAs from the L.A. area who weren’t participants at the basketball banquet.
Needless to say, all of them said the same thing. “Don’t mention my name in your column.”
I assumed they don’t want people to know they frequently visit Vegas.
Most JA folks who visit Vegas are California Hotel patrons, and they usually stay four days and three nights.
Which is the usual length of my visits.
The only time we leave the casino is to go out to dine at some of the popular restaurants in the city.
One of my favorites is Tony Roma’s at the Fremont Hotel, but it’s such a popular place that the waiting time for tables is usually about half an hour.
On this trip, it was closer to an hour because of the huge line waiting for a table.
Those of you who have dined at Tony Roma’s know that their rib dinner can’t be matched anywhere else.
However, it’s such a large dinner that we do something very few, if any, do.
That is, ask for a “take-out box” with what we can finish at one sitting.
And when we get home, we have it for dinner.
I’m surprised that they do carry take-out boxes because what visitor walks out with boxes in Vegas?
Oh well, it’s good to get back home.
I know I never live up to the statement, “Man, I don’t think I’ll come back again,” because I’ll probably be going back in a few weeks.
I guess I never live and learn.
Well, let me get on with my column.
Since I no longer visit Japan and don’t even leave the U.S. anymore, I didn’t renew my passport, which must be at least 12 years old.
More than a third of Americans have valid passports.
That means that in 2012, 113.4 million had passports, according to the Bureau of Consumer Affairs, U.S. State Department.
I wonder how many of them use their passports to visit Japan.
And the horse meat controversy continues in Europe.
When it was revealed that “hamburgers” in England were found to contain horse meat, it plunged the country’s food industry into a crisis.
In some cases, hamburgers contained 100 percent horse meat.
The scandal has caused most European countries to question the safety of hamburgers. The labeling of horse meat as beef has made everyone wonder what’s in hamburger meat.
As of this time, the U.S. seems to have escaped the use of horse meat in hamburgers.
Big Mac is still Big Mac at McDonalds. That is, their hamburgers are still beef.
By the way, in chatting about passports owned by U.S. citizens visiting Japan, the number of Chinese skipping trips to Japan is reaching record numbers.
Especially during the Lunar New Year, which saw a 50 percent drop in Chinese tourism to Japan.
The tiff over islands that both Japan and China claim is behind the drop.
Japan is accusing China’s naval forces of using their weapons-guiding radar around the islands, an assertion China denies.
It will be interesting to see how all this turns out.
In the meantime, there are fewer and fewer Chinese visitors in Japan.
And fewer and fewer Japanese automobiles selling in China.
Nissan reported a 35 percent drop in net profit in China.
Japan’s number two automaker in sales dropped because of the political tensions between Beijing and Tokyo.
Maybe our Nisei Week Festival queen contest might follow suit with Hawaii’s Cherry Blossom Festival contest.
The island festival is holding a contest in which those submitting the name of the winning candidate will win a free trip to Las Vegas.
The first prize will include two round-trip vacation packages to Vegas, including a five-night stay at the California Hotel, all expenses paid.
There are 15 candidates vying for the queen’s tiara, so the contest should draw a lot of participation from the general public.
Perhaps Nisei Week should stage a guessing game as to who will win.
And the local contest might increase the number of entrants to more than the small field that vies for the tiara.
Having the public involved would certainly stir more interest in our contest.
The Nisei Week Queen contest in the old days was just that. A contest with a large number of contestants vying for the title.
Maybe the person who selects the Nisei Week winner could get an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.
Heck, I would enter a contest like that and I’m sure a lot of others in the community would do so also.
I guess it’s kind of ironic that the two festivals in Hawaii and San Francisco, both named Cherry Blossom Festival, were inspired to begin their annual event as copies of our Nisei Week but have included a lot of new innovations.
Now maybe Nisei Week can “copy” some of the Frisco and Hawaii events.
Who would believe that while I was out of town, the Dodgers opened their spring season with a game against the San Francisco Giants?
As all of you know, the game ended in an 8-8 tie.
Can’t believe baseball is here already, even if the games are “spring training” contests.
Of course, one can predict what the regular season will be like by watching spring training games.
However, the 8-8 tie gives us hope that it will be the Dodgers winning the National League West title instead of the Bay City nine.
Well, we’ll find out in a few months when wins and losses will count in the standings.
I didn’t see it in The Rafu (might have missed it if it ran), so I thought I would toss in the following story.
Chika Kawahara of Rodeo Calabasas was newly installed as a member of the Board of Directors for the North Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America.
Founded in 2003, AREAA is a nonprofit professional trade organization dedicated to promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities for Asian American communities by creating a national voice for housing and real estate professionals that serve this market.
Membership includes housing and real estate professionals of all cultural backgrounds and is open to those who support the missions of increasing sustainable homeownership in the Asian community.
Before I forget to mention it, one of those I met during this week’s trip to Las Vegas also lives in Gardena but rarely goes to Vegas.
Since he drives, he asked me the best way to get to Vegas from our hometown.
Well, I used to drive into L.A. on the 110 Freeway and then to the 10. From the 10 to the 15.
But over the years, I found the best way and avoid the traffic in Downtown.
Now, I drive the 110 north to the 105 and then to the 605.
From the 605 to the 210 to the 15 and all the way to Vegas on the 15.
The next time he goes, he’ll try my route.
The suggested route takes just over four hours to Downtown Vegas.
It used to take me over five hours on the old route.
Of course, with my luck, it might be better to spend an extra hour and a half on the highway instead of sitting in front of a slot machine.
A bit earlier I chatted about horse meat being sold as hamburger.
Well, fish fraud is another problem, this one in the U.S. at sushi eateries.
A fillet of rare red snapper could really be cheap tilapia. A pricey wild-caught salmon steak from Alaska could be farmed salmon from Chile.
A third of the fish bought at restaurant and sushi counters were mislabeled.
Oceana’s volunteers collected fish samples from 678 supermarkets, restaurants and sushi counters in 21 states and found examples of fish fraud. For example, 87 percent of the snapper samples were not snappers.
At sushi restaurants, 74 percent had at least one sample returned with a mislabel.
A Food and Drug Administration survey found that only 2% of the fish sold in stores and sushi bars was mislabeled, but the survey wasn’t focused specifically on higher priced and more frequently substituted species.
Okay, don’t pass me the fish sushi. Just the egg and vegetable ones.
Okay, let me wind up by making you laugh.
A big Texan stopped at a local restaurant following a day of roaming around Mexico.
While sipping his coffee, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious looking platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.
He asked the waiter, “What is that you just served?”
The waiter replied, “That’s from the bull ring. It’s the testicles of the losing bull.”
The cowboy returned the next day and placed his order and that evening was served the one and only special delicacy of the day.
After a few bites he called to the waiter and said, “These are delicious but they are much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday.”
The waiter shrugged his shoulders and said, “Si, Señor. Sometimes the bull wins the fight.”
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.