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Friday, October 31, 2014

WOLFGANG'S STEAKS WITH ROBUST ITALIAN RED WINES


Chaine des Rotisseurs (click on that, scroll down, and you'll see me in Aloha regalia--on the other hand, it is possible that this site might at this moment be malfunctioning) recently had an outing at Wolfgang's in Waikiki featuring steak and Italian red wines.  The restaurant had long waiting line, but we had reserved a special room.  Three hours later, the line was still long, and almost all seemed to be from Japan.  

There were only a few of us Chaines, led by two former Baillis (the equivalent of president) above, Maurice Nicholson and Bruce Liebert.  We all have French titles.  I am a Chevalier, which surely has a French meaning, but stands for someone who has no power in the organization.   


Many of our members are famous chefs.  The organizer was Donato Loberfido (above), who once had his own steakhouse and is now a wine importer.  The other chef in attendance tonight was Vikram Garg, who has been the Executive Chef at the Halekulani since 2008, and usually hosts our annual Black Tie Gala Event in December (however, this year we're going to the Moana Hotel):



This was epicurean indulgence to the ultimate.  Of course we had salads, breads, potatoes, spinach, tomato, cheese and mushrooms, but there was an unlimited supply of four kinds of steak:  porterhouse, rib eye, etc.  They were all medium rare and sliced into two ounce portions.  I normally can tolerate, at the maximum, half a pound of beef.  I surely well exceeded more than pound, and some doubled that, at least.  When I was younger, I tried a 50 ounce (more than 3 pounds) Trail Dust special in Denver, which came with all the wine you could drink, and cost all of $18.99.  Enlarge to read the details for the Bull Shipper.   Imagine just the opposite, that is, Wolfgang's had the best prime cuts and the wines were truly fabulous, while that was not the case for Trail Dust.  Here is my first serving of steaks, followed by a variety of desserts:


The stars of the night were the wines.  All nine were Barberescos made from the Nebbiolo grape.  While this and Barolos are both located in northwest Italy and use the same grape, Nebbiolo, the difference in characteristics is due to the soils.  The other big Italian red is Brunello di Montalcino, made from the  Santiovese grape, grown around 80 miles south of Florence.  We started with a dry Prosecco, followed by the following NINE Barberescos:
  • PORA: The Dolce Vita Wine. 
  • RIO SORDO: The Silky One. 
  • ASILI: A Word On Its Own. 
  • PAJE’: Evergreen. 
  • MOCCAGATTA: Pristine Beauty.
  • RABAJA`: Pure Breed. 
  • OVELLO: The Tomboy. 
  • MONTEFICO: The Academic. 
  • MONTESTEFANO: The Barolo Of Barbaresco

While they were all terrific, I lose total credibility by saying this, but, frankly, all nine tasted about the same to me.  Donato might never speak to me again.  That's him to the right when he and Chef Phillipe had Elua.

It is said that Barbaresco is from Mars and Barolo is from Venus.  Our next Italian adventure will be Barolo by Donato.

I yesterday also took my almost weekly walk into downtown Honolulu, and for the third time, went to Lucky Belly (and, yes, the first time was an official Chaine function).   I again had the Lucky Belly ramen, with some sake:


The walk through Chinatown always is interesting, for here is a store that sells magic potions:


Like the Trail Dust menu, you need to click on it to expand and read the details.  Just a block or so away is Honolulu Tower, whose architect, Norman Lacayo, also designed 2101 Nuuanu, where my penthouse is located.  The buildings look very similar:


Lot of flowers, starting with an orchid tree:


The bottom flowers were intoxicatingly fragrant.


Yes, the flow has stalled, but Pahoa is on the verge of being overrun by lava.


The American stock market reached all-time highs today:
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average, up 195 to 17,390.
  • S&P up 23 to 2018.
  • NASDAQ finished at a 14.5 month high.
The Japanese Nikkei jumped 756 to 16,414.  Of course, in 1989 it closed at 38,916, so today was only 42% of that all-time high.  Actually, it's worse than that, for the worth of 38,916 in 1989 is 73,100 today, so Japanese stocks are now only 22% of that value.  China is in the same neighborhood and the Russian exchange is 25% lower than 2008 and not doing well.  Mind you, they all increased today, but the USA has never been higher in our entire history!!!


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There are two ocean storms.  The more serious one is now Tropical Storm Nuri, at 50 MPH, expected to become a Category 3 typhoon and head for Japan:  



In the East Pacific, Tropical Storm Vance will become a hurricane and crash into Mexico:



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Thursday, October 30, 2014

WHY ARE PEOPLE FREAKING OUT ABOUT EBOLA?

I said it earlier this month that the uncontrolled pandemic is not Ebola itself but the reaction of the media.  The same thing happened five years ago when my HuffPo was entitled:


The first Ebola deaths only occurred in 1976 in Sudan and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and the name came from the Ebola River of the latter. There must be something about this dark spot on Planet Earth because in 1959 the first HIV/AIDS case was reportedly from this same location.  Joseph Conrad in 1889 wrote  Heart of Darkness, which occurred on the Congo River.  Maybe, just maybe, this is the Gateway to Hell.  If, that, is, there is a Hell.


This is now the third outbreak, and, by far, the most serious.  There is something visceral about the nature and finality of this scourge. After all, half who have contracted this virus, 5000+, have died since March of this year. Mothers, in particular, are concerned, as they were at the time of the swine flu.

However, the World Health Organization reports that up to 500,000 die from the flu annually.  I suspect this number is inflated to scare people into taking the flu shot, but even this number pales relative to the 17.5 million passing away from cardiovascular diseases each year.  It can be pointed out that something between 50 million and 100 million succumbed to the 1918 flu in the period up to 1923.  However the world population then was less than 2 billion, and is more than 7 billion now, so the proportional effect was around 4 times higher.

So back to Ebola, with zero deaths in the USA, zero deaths in Europe and zero deaths in the Orient, why are people freaking out about this virus?  The media!!!  I'll end with a question.  Why don't we do more about smoking, for this habit is said to be responsible for 5 million annual deaths, to rise to 8 million in 2030?  Ebola?  Maybe someday a total of 10,000 deaths, and 99.99% of them in West Africa.

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No homes destroyed in Pahoa yet, and the lava flow seems to have slowed down.  However, if not today, then tomorrow, or next week.  Kilauea has continued to spew out magma:

  • Since then:
    • 500 acres of new lands have been created.
    • 89 miles of highway have been covered.
    • 214 structures have been destroyed
    • The thickness of the lava in some locations is up to 115 feet high.
80-year old "island girl" Theresa Zendejas said:

I'm living on a living island.  It's awesome.  It's magical....Life is positive.  What can I say?  You have to do what we have to do.  We have no control over Mother Nature.  We just go with the flow.



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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD SERIES


The absolute final game, #7 of the 2014 Major League Baseball World Series, will be held today at 8PM (EDT, 2PM Hawaii time), with the San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals.  The Royals fans are euphoric, for they won Game #6 last night 10-0.  The last time they were in the World Series was 29 years ago, when, in game #7, they beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0.  However, while on the same site, this is a totally different Kauffman (leftonly American League park named after a person--Ewing Kauffman owned the team, passing away in 1993) Stadium, for there was a $250 million renovation in 2009, reducing the capacity to only 37,903.

The Major League Baseball season actually started more than six months ago in Australia.  You probably did not know that the National Basketball Association opened their season last night.  If the finals go to seven, the final day of the NBA could be about 8 months from now.  The regular season ends on April 18, and the playoffs go on for at least two months.
This is the first Major League Baseball World Series I have actually watched in decades, maybe the most ever.  Why?  I think because I have a fantasy team  (CDM Diamond Challenge) that is doing well.  I am #1 in my league of 25.  I've already won $150 because I have such a huge league lead, and could, under best case conditions, win up to $200.  My investment for this team was $14.95.

Most of you don't care beans about the World Series.  I have provided reasons why you might actually want to view the game tonight:
  • The catchers wear brightly colored fingernail polish.   Here is Buster Posey to the right.  This is so the pitcher can better see the signs.  Kind of reminds me of Seoul, Korea, where a large number of women paint the nails on their feet.  I don't have a foot fetish, but on summer days sitting on the Seoul Subway, when slippers/sandals are won, this becomes obvious.
  • Major league baseball players spit...a lot.  Gross!
  • The Giants have a lot of chubby players.  The only weight-challenged Royal regular appears to be Billy Butler, here, next to Pablo Sandoval.  This is nothing close to high school softball players in Hawaii.  Earlier this year I noticed at a televised game that the majority of the girls were almost obese, and most were Polynesian.  This can't be good.
  • Giant's Hunter Pence commands the batting box.  Reminds me of a lion staking out his territory.  Or maybe a Tyrannosaurus Rex holding a bat.
  • Unless the Giants are leading or losing by five runs or more, you will almost surely at some point see Madison Bumgarner pitching in this third World Series game:

He is currently the best player in baseball.  Last year, each player on the winning team earned $307,323, with each loser getting $228,300.  Not bad, but the AVERAGE salary of a major leaguer last year was $3,386,212.

Keep in mind, though, that this not really a WORLD series, for the USA has yet to win the World Baseball Classic, held every four years in the USA.  The best we've done is fourth place.  Gold, silver, bronze?  We have not even placed for a medal.  Japan has twice won the world championship and the Dominican Republic once.  There are 134 Major League Baseball players from this country.  Only 12 from Japan.

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The lava is interminably stalking Pahoa town on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Homes will be destroyed, probably beginning tonight:


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

THE FINAL TRANSITION: STILL IN PROGRESS

I now and then check on which blog postings have been popular.  To the right you see the top 20 as of a few weeks ago.  In general, older articles rate higher because some have had years to accumulate views.  However, there is another part of the stat analysis that shows which postings which have recently drawn interest.

Over the past few weeks, THE GRAND COMPROMISE generally has rated as #1. Why is a mystery, for it was released about a year ago, and is lengthy and boring to boot.  It talks about the national deficit, defense spending and the beauty of sequestration.  Why would anyone today want to read about these topics today, and here in PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY?

Also in October of last year I published:  CAN YOU GET VIVID DREAMS WITH GARCINIA CAMBOGIA?  For the past many months, this posting regularly reaches the top, almost every day.  In a way, I can appreciate the popularity because people crave vivid dreams.   I was attracted to this option, for I wanted to lose some weight, and this natural pill also indicated a lowering of blood sugar level.  I asked my doctor first and he was wishy washy but not opposed.  He basically was not aware of GC.  That vivid dream the first time I took it could have been totally coincidental, but I certainly did dream well.  However, very shortly after taking a few of these GC pills, after actually losing a few quick pounds, (which shouldn't have happened, for all ads say it should take at least 3 weeks) I stopped because I thought I read that there was some danger to weakening your skeletal muscles, plus, there was some discouragement about combining this treatment if you are already taking statins for cholesterol.  Here is a reasonably accurate portrayal of the reality (but is also a sales video).  And another longer one.  I still have four large bottles, so might someday soon try it some night just to see if I can again stimulate more vivid dreams.

In July of this year I was completing my life story through transitions.  Again, I wonder why, but--THE FINAL TRANSITION:  Part 15A--has recently reached the top three.  This posting has to do with the terminal question of "An Afterlife or Eternal Gloom?"  I guess my readers are interested in the afterlife, or potential lack of it.  Anyway, my current transition is in the pre-purgatory state of my final transition.  To summarize, 15 Craigside:

  • The food now is cafeteria-like, but reliable.  I actually eat in the dining room perhaps only once a day, wasting something like $45/day.
  • My next three dinners will be
    • tonight on Fred's Tuesday-Thursday table for 6 or so (Fred is a Stanford graduate who taught in Japan for most of his professional life)
    • Wednesday with the Chaine des Rotisseurs on a steak with extraordinary Italian reds extravanga at Wolfgang's (the wines are supposed to be so fabulous that one sitting should have cost $500/person, but we're paying less, although still ridiculously expensive)
    • Thursday with my regular former professors group at 15 Craigside through the invitation of Ted, who taught chemical engineering in Oregon, and his wife Sets, who teaches a roots-type course here.
  • Here is a typical meal I have on my lanai, this one from Gyotaku:
  • This is actually a topic of some dinner conversation here:  no one has yet seen a cockroach in 15 Craigside.  Now, that is amazing, and reassuring, for I must have caught a thousand using Hoy Hoy Trap a Roach on my roof at 2101 Craigside.  Maybe tomorrow I'll narrate one early evening I had in my battle with large flying roaches.  I felt like General George Armstrong Custer.
  • In fact, I still haven't seen a fly or ant here.  Maybe they are overdoing this.
  • I like the temperature control system.  I set my apartment for 76 F in the daytime and 69 F at night.  
  • I have not locked my door now for months.  There are security guards, a check-in desk, and cameras everywhere.
  • I now and then join the poker group and there is a regular MWF bridge table.
  • There are six or so exercise sessions every day.  Also, Tai chi and yoga.  Some day in the future I'll join them.  For now, I walk nine holes two or three times a week at the Ala Wai Golf Course.  I actually went 18 holes a few days ago.
  • My personal doctor is the house doctor.  I see him in our basement clinic, which is always open,  The second floor is a hospital,  There is a beauty salon where I get my haircut.  Exercise machines, small pool, etc.  I live in a cocoon.
  • There are a couple of entertainment specials daily, like My Fair Lady, the Royal Hawaiian Band and everything you need to know about your health plan.  I'll in time give a lecture on how to go around the world.  I leave in a few days, and largely waste $4000 for the month I will not be here.  But there is a lady who teaches in Alaska nine months of the year and only lives here for three months.  I ask her why, and she says this like an insurance policy.  Makes me feel better about my absences.
  • The people here are friendly and staff helpful.  I am slowly breaking out of my hermit phase.
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Tropical Cyclone Nilofar in the Indian Ocean is now at 130 MPH.  However, all models have the storm weakening before crashing just south of the Pakistan-India border:


WELL, IT'S HAPPENING:

  Lava enters residential property, but homes standing

On Saturday, my posting was

  IS THIS THE END OF PAHOA?

Here is a recent video clip.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

THE GOOD AND BAD NEWS ABOUT CHOCOLATE


According to a study reported in Nature Neuroscience, chocolate contains flavonals, specifically epicatechin, an antioxidant, which can help boost memory.  Physiologically, blood circulation and heart health improve, leading to some activation of the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus.  While most of the research focused on snails and mice, a small group of humans, 50-69 old, drank cocoa flavanols (900 milligrams) for three months, and compared them with another lot provided cocoa low in these flavanols (10 mg).  A typical candy bar contains 40 mg of flavanols.  The difference was phenomenal, for the high-F group performed as if they were 20 to 30 years younger.

  • reduces the risk of diabetes
  • doesn't cause acne
  • prevents tooth decay
  • reduces heart diseases
  • prevents cancer
  • doesn't lead to weight gain
  • can cure cough
  • helps you relax
  • led to the invention of the microwave oven
  • is a vegetable
Much of this actually might well be true, but you wonder how much of this R&D was sponsored by chocolate companies.

Anyway here is the more sobering part of this announcement about chocolate and memory.  First, only 37 individuals were studied.  Worse, the reality is that the process of processing cocoa into chocolate actually removes many of these flavonals.   And, get this, the study was funded by Mars, the largest chocolate company in the world with annual revenues of more than $10 billion.  This is the worst part, for to get the 138 mg of epicatechin/day to match this study, you would need to consume seven dark chocolate bars/day.  That's, further, about 1500 calories, meaning you would need to spend an hour and a half/day climbing stairs.

In any case, one candy bar is only around 200 calories, as compared to:
  • a small piece of birthday cake (312 calories)
  • small hot fudge sundae (392 calories)
  • 20 ounce soda (250 calories)
  • one large bagel (320 calories)
  • glass of red wine (125 calories)

Oh, do you remember that I have long been touting red wines for old people like me?  They also contain flavonoids, but also, other goodies like resveratrol (Malbec and Pinot Noir are best).  Not only memory, these natural ingredients prevent cardiovascular diseases, increase high density lipoprotein, and, even, prevent cancer.  But, hey, there might only be 1 mg of resveratrol in a glass of wine, and those pills contain 250 mg, so one could also question the reality wine improving health.

In any case, there is more good than bad about chocolates, so do feel comfortable with a reasonable amount of dark chocolates (the darker the more flavanols, but certainly, too, continue to exercise).  Plus, there is good reason to drink red wine.  How much?  The medical profession suggests up to two glasses of red wine/day.  One glass is all of 5 ounces, and, as you can get five glasses/bottle, this means drinking 40% of a bottle of red wine/day.  Frankly, even I wonder if this might be too much, but what do I know?  And I don't really drink wine for the health benefits, but more for the mild high, something chocolates do not provide.

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In the Indian Ocean, Cyclone Nilofar is a 105 MPH and is strengthening, expected to reach Category 3 status, but, then weaken, and crash into a region near the India-Pakistan border.


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I might add that the open house of Craigside Penthouse A2 yesterday went well:


You can hardly recognize then, but here are Darrell of Paradise Optical, Abbie of Horita Realty, Tim from the University of Hawaii and Suzette of Horita Realty.

My 15 Craigside sunset is not as spectacular, but still okay.  Tonight:



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