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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

LOVERS WIN AMERICAN IDOL

DAY 21 of the current Kilauea Volcano eruption and around 50 buildings have been destroyed, but the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant still is untouched and Darryl Clinton is expected to walk someday after being struck by a bowling ball size lava bomb on his leg.  

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Well, lovers might be an exaggeration, but after Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson were announced as the top two finalists for this 16th season of American Idol, they let the world know that they have been dating since they met during the competition during the dreaded Hollywood Week.  Almost anti-climactic that Maddie won, but the whole final show was very entertaining, especially the final hour.

Some of the cameo highlights included:

Hawaii was especially featured at the end, with Maddie and Caleb singing Iz Kamakawiwoole's Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  As a special award, Maddie and Caleb were given Hawaiian vacations, with a hint that their parents had to accompany them to Hawaii as chaperones.

I should mention that Ryan Seacrest was moderator and the three judges were Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.  Katy was special.


American Idol did well, returns next year, and the crew of four will be back.  All 8 Sunday telecasts were the top rated show for the night.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

WHO AM I?

First, Day 20 of the Puna eruption, which has added to fissure 20, a second finger of lava flow, this one from fissure 6, threatening the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant.


The company is continuing to have problems plugging up one well.  We keep getting surprised, but, apparently, the plugs for these wells are supposed to arrive only today.  Another Halemaumau Crater explosion occurred earlier this morning, and ash is falling over two towns I lived in from 1962 to 1967, Naalehu and Pahala.

I was a sugar engineer in Naalehu and Pearl was a nurse in Pahala when we first met in 1962.  However, as the Puu Oo eruption only began in 1983, we had no air pollution problems in the 60's.  The scary thing is that if she got pregnant, we might still have been living in Kau.  That is Hutchinson Sugar Company manager, Bill Baldwin, who introduced us and bade us goodbye.  We a decade later shared the same office when we both worked for U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga in DC.

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My life as a university professor began with the Hawaii Geothermal Project, for which I was the reservoir engineer.  Our 3 MW powerplant was also on that same East Rift a short distance from the commercial geothermal facility.  If we had not succeeded in discovering the hottest geothermal well in the world, PGV would not have existed.  I thus have a particularly paternal involvement with what is happening there.  All the above links to the rest of this posting, for I'm today giving a rather unusual presentation at 15 Craigside.  I'll be giving a talk about myself, I think.  This is all rather embarrassing, for I'm sort of providing my own eulogy.


Leading to ending my daily blog after ten years, in March, I began a series by selecting one posting for each year of this site, beginning with #10, entitled MY LIFE.  That pretty much gave my background, beginning, actually, with my father's father, Kenjiro Takahashi.  I'm Kenji, so was named after him.  To the left with my niece, Nalani, at his gravestone on Kauai.

The May issue of Action Line, a monthly newsletter published by 15 Craigside, provided a different kind of summary, written by Sets Ozawa, who heads a writing group at this seniors' facility.




(For some, if you really want to read the above, you will need to ZOOM IN to enlarge the print.)

How this Action Line article happened was that Sets, who knew I had a daily blog, asked me if I could speak to her writing group.  I agreed, but on afterthought, she thought that, perhaps, my presentation could be provided to all the residents.  That was fine with me.  Then, to prepare for the talk, she wrote this above article based on postings from my blog.  So, in any case, I'm releasing this effort today, when I give my presentation.  Frankly, I'm not really all that sure, but I think it is about my life.

But the above still does not quite represent me.  Who, really, am I?  How did I become what I am today?

Let me start with IQ.  I won't say what mine is, but studies, which are all controversial, seem to indicated that you inherit from 58% to 86% of your intelligence from your parents.  However, your IQ and effect of your environment varies with age.  It is estimated that genetics are responsible for less than half of your IQ in childhood (meaning your upbringing, etc., can have a greater influence), but this percentage rises above 80% when you get old.  Thus, the older you are, the closer you get to your inherited traits.  However, your IQ drops because of cognitive decline.  But you need to appreciate that there is a difference between IQ and intelligence, and this all gets rather complicated, so let me stop here.

The point to the above is that I had an advantage when I was a child because my mother was the oldest of six children, while my older brother came ten years before me.  What this meant was that I was the only baby in the entire family of relatives until my younger brother and cousins came four years later.  Thus, everybody pampered me, and the whole family tended to get together weekly.  An aunt taught me chess when I was 4, and so on.  That early experience most definitely shaped my personality.

However, growing up in Kakaako in relative poverty (hey, things weren't that bad, actually), and being part of a gang, resulted in my remaining an average student.  My math scores were okay, but I did really poorly in anything verbal.  Then, as mentioned in the Action Line article, my family was forced to re-locate when the Kakaako area was re-developed in my sophomore year of high school.  That adjustment totally changed my attitude and ambition.  This qualifies for fairy tale status, but in two years I found myself at Stanford University.  The rest of my life was just a continuation of what must be a fantasy.

When I compare myself to my youth friends and my freshman classmates at Stanford, the one difference I can draw out is that I kept changing and improving every year in a variety of ways, while most of them strengthened who they were and where they were.  Mind you, my friends are doing well and quite satisfied with their life.

I was totally out of my element in college:  financially,  intellectually, sociologically and physically.  But since then, none of them did anything like travel around the world a dozen times, and work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, U.S. Senate and the NASA Ames Research Center.  I'm now in my 46th year at the University of Hawaii and still have an office on campus, even though I've been retired for nearly 20 years.

I've planted seeds for the Blue Revolution and the Hydrogen Society, and dabble in trying to save Planet Earth and Humanity through peace, sustainable resources and environmental enhancement.  No one else I know focuses on impossible dreams.  Maybe that best describes who I am.

Two years ago I again transformed myself.  I gave up all chairmanships, and after a lifetime in education and helping other people succeed, I decided in my limited time left to maximize MY enjoyment of life.  I don't go to funerals anymore and avoid participating in anything that provides any kind of stress.  This talk today I actually find almost enjoyable, although speaking about oneself seems philosophically antithetical to my upbringing.  I indulge in Japanese wagyu beef with o-toro sashimi, a variety of alcoholic drinks, yearly Japan Rail Pass visits for cherry blossoms/fall color changes, fantasy sports and golf.

Thankfully, I'm at 15 Craigside where they have promised to take care of me until I die, even if I run out of money.  But I have enough continuing income and resources to do whatever I want within reason.

I again have many friends (there are 200 living here) and my health at this moment is fine, if not terrific.  My eyesight is 20-20 because of cataract surgery, the tinnitus I thought I had is mostly not there anymore, my hair is getting blacker (or perhaps I'm deluding myself here) and I walk 18 holes of golf twice/week.  Every dinner night at 15C is a major party.  After a great weekend, the vacation continues Monday morning.  I in the midst of rainbows daily.

So who am I?  I'm, maybe, the happiest and luckiest person in the world.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

DAY 19: Puna Geothermal Venture Facility Threatened

Oh, oh.  DAY 19 of the Puna Eruption and a finger of lava from fissure 22 is now approaching the Puna Geothermal Venture facility:

A Hawaii County Civil Defense spokeswoman said the flow from fissure 22 next to the PGV site broke out on its northwest side, and “there’s very active fountaining.”

The flow last night was approaching the well pad at PGV, but had stalled at a berm on the property, said county spokeswoman Janet Snyder (right).

The following map shows where Highway 137 was crossed as the lava entered the Pacific Ocean.  The latest:

"I think we're moving into phase two and that's where we're going to see increased activity, potentially higher fountains, more lava flows. Much more dynamic situation than before," geologist Dr. Carolyn Parcheta told CBS News.


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A friend, Dan Bent, who worked with the author, passed on to me Hawaii Lawyer, by James H. Case.  The Star Advertiser had a nice write-up a week ago.  What a life.  I did not realize how influential he was.  I too worked for the sugar industry and now better appreciate what happened.  His brother Bill helped me a lot when I was at C. Brewer.

I was also acquainted with Jim Case's son, Ed, for we both worked for Senator Spark Matsunaga at around the same time forty years ago.  Ed later became a U. S. Congressman.

I leave you with one quote from the book:

Luck is essential in the games of bridge and poker and it has a role in the practice of law.   A lot of life is luck, isn't it?  But the thing about luck, like opportunity, is you don't exactly know when it'll come along but you can open the door to let it in when it does.  When that work happened along I had assembled the tools to do it.

Well, I continue to eat, and yesterday had lunch at Sushi King.  Zaru Soba and Salmon Kama (collar), with hot sake and cold beer:


What a meal.  Then went to the final University of Hawaii baseball game of the year at home, against Long Beach State.  We won.  Shower trees are now blooming all over the Manoa Campus.


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Sunday, May 20, 2018

15 CRAIGSIDE GOES TO CHINATOWN

DAY 18 of the Puna eruption featured lava flows crossing Highway 137 and into the ocean.  There is now a new danger:  LAZE, which is a more potent haze caused by lava, which turns the marine steam into hydrochloric acid laced with fine particles of glass.


There are now 23 fissures, 44 destroyed structures and one injury.  A man on a third-floor balcony had his leg shattered from shin to foot when  hit by a lava spatter.  The molten rock is at 2,000 F.  With lava fountains several hundred feet high and ash plumes up to 30,000 feet, it's actually remarkable that he is the only casualty thus far.

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On the island of Oahu, residents of 15 Craigside had two outings yesterday.  In the morning, the Photo Club went to Chinatown, and later that evening, four neighboring families on the 12th floor had dinner at Senia.

Kekaulike Mall is the walkway between Oahu Market and Mauna Kea Marketplace.  It was nearly six years ago that I posted on Chinatown Honolulu.  Nothing has changed.

A few of us were scouting around for tamarind and mangosteen, but these exotic fruits seem now not to be on sale.

But have you ever had a jack fruit?


Interestingly enough, of all that volume, just the small layer outside each seed is eaten.  Fully 95% of the fruit is discarded.

I love lychee, but am wary of overripe guava.  Clearly, if yellow guava can have worms, they must just be smaller and growing up when the fruit is  half-ripe.


This has to be high on any list of worst foods to eat, but the crispy skin of roast pork is heavenly:


But I'm not into pigs' feet, nor head.


The interesting thing about this photo is the reflection, where you see things, both real and imagined.

At one time I chaired a 15 Craigside committee that featured dining out at Honolulu's top restaurants.  Our first was to Hy's Steakhouse more than three years ago and we went to more than a dozen places.  Well, I have given up all my chairmanships, and these night out adventures seem now to be limited to four adjacent neighbors on the 12th floor.  Vintage Cave (left) was one our expeditions, and so was La Mer below:


Last night we went to Senia, adjacent to Honolulu Chinatown.  And if you wondering, I did not wear my Thai blue sportscoat.


See those seats facing the kitchen?  It would have cost us $185 each to sit there, plus wine and other extras.

This is otherwise a so-called family-style fusion restaurant, where you are encouraged to share dishes.  The co-chefs are Chris Kajioka (from Hawaii) and Anthony Rush (from the UK), former employees of Per Se.  Kajioka also once worked at French Laundry and Vintage Cave.  In the middle as the hostess is Katherine Nomura Rush (from Los Angeles, and wife of Anthony):


So we ordered an excellent ahi poke on bread, and two orders of bone marrow, raw hamachi and scallops, plus one main entre, an Idaho wagyu rib barbeque, with the cheapest red wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon at $60/bottle:


We asked for some rice or potato to go with the beef, and, after a long while, some mushrooms and fancy potato concoction came.  Frankly, everything was tasty and artsy.  The service was friendly, but a bit compulsive.  There is a pervading superiority complex sense, for Senia is so popular that your credit card number is taken for tables of six or more, with the admonition that if one person does not show up, there will be a charge for $100 (I need to check on this as to exactly how much).  Then, the bill at the end automatically adds a 20% tip.  With one bottle of wine and tax, the cost was just about $500, not bad, actually, for the cuisine and setting.  Vintage Cave cost $2000 for five diners, and I was allowed to bring my own wines.  There is no parking, so the best option was one of the municipal or private lots.  To our surprise, the total cost was $2, but you got to wonder about safety at night in this part of Honolulu.

At the end, we were supersaturated with food, so instead of coffee and dessert, we decided to return to the 15 Craigside Dining Room, where we had coffee / tea and pecan pie / ice cream.  Senia would have charged us at least an additional $100 for this conclusion.  15 Craigside?  Free.

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