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Thursday, March 23, 2017


Soon after Pearl passed away I thought it would be a nice tribute to plant a few gold trees for her.  There is a large one right next to 15 Craigside, where I now live.

Pearl's sister Doris arranged for her family to visit Pearl's Gold Tree at the Ala Wai Golf Course.  Here with son-in-law Dean, me, her daughter Debbie, son David, Doris...and granddaughter Lily:

Jordan Abe heads this course and Garrick is the City and County of Honolulu Golf Course Systems Administrator:

Garrick was quoted in Honolulu magazine:

In 2006, it hosted 159,931 games of golf, an average of 439 a day. Garrick Iwamuro, the City and County’s golf course systems administrator, says, “People like the central location, and it’s very well kept for a municipal course, especially considering the amount of play. It’s not a difficult course, but it is a fair one, for all skill levels.” The low prices don’t hurt its popularity—you can play a full 18 holes for as little as $12 with a Golf ID card. 

More than a decade later, costs have gone up (however, if I walk, I pay $9/round with a monthly card for seniors), but the course remains popular.

These gold trees are not doing well at Ala Wai and Makalena.  Probably has something to do with the water table level, but I think the winds are also the problem.

However, Garrick has a horticulture degree from the University of Hawaii and is doing whatever he can to raise these trees.  I have offered to donate a few more trees, for it would be terrible if they all died.  Grown on the Mauka side of the course, protected from those winds, I think they would have a better chance of thriving.

The family then went to Ruscello, an Italianish restaurant located in the new Nordstrom at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.  Similar to Bloomingdale's Forty Carats, but probably ten times larger.  There are Ruscello's in many of the other Nordstroms.

These are the outside tables.  There are more inside.  I had a soup and salad with a Prosecco:

The others had:

Nicely presented and not all that expensive.  Doris indicated that they sold their Hilo home and passed on to me a few old photos of Pearl:

Yes, that's me above, more than 55 years ago, and the bottom photo shows Pearl with her parents and U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga when she worked for him.  Tomorrow, I'll probably deal with the subject of what happened to biofuels.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

PEARL'S ASHES: Chapter 12 Rio de Janeiro

As you have surely noted, I'm not exactly suffering on my quest to drop Pearl's Ashes.  Who's paying for all this?  I'm using her savings.  On 3 October 2011 I activated a monumental around the world trip, to quote:

Today I begin my final ash scattering journey.  I'll be stopping through Bangkok, Tokyo, Zurich, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Sao Paulo, Rio, Buenos Aires, Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Las Vegas, Reno, and San Francisco.  Let me know if I'll be stopping by your city.  Perhaps we can have lunch or something.  My first leg takes 18 hours, so, maybe I'll break my Rome-DC record.  Hopefully, it will be less stressful than my Delhi to Barcelona adventure.

My first ash tossing ceremony was to be in Rio de Janeiro, but getting there was full of adventure and enjoyment.  For example, I broke my all-time record by tasting 24 different alcoholic drinks from Honolulu to Bankgok via Tokyo, all in first class.  Thai Air to Bangkok:

First Class on Thai Air means you have your own room and Dom Perignon (21) was served while still on the ground.  The United flight had what must have been a 5 inch screen, but this one was more like two feet and high definition.  The sound/video system was exceptional.  There must have been a hundred movies and something called a juke box where you could program what you wanted to hear.

Click on the above link for details.

Bangkok was fun, but no ashes.  My next stop was Japan, which in itself was worthy of a few chapters.  Then on to Amsterdam, via Zurich, an itinerary that took 20 hours.  Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, where marijuana and magic truffles are tolerated, there is a famous Red Light District and museums are abundant.  The next city was Stockholm, one of the safest cities in the world where I almost got my pocket picked.  Of all the cities, I had, perhaps, my best two meals in a row.

In London I also had some great meals and went to see Phantom of the Opera and The Wizard of Oz.  I then spent a horrid 18 hours trying to get from London to Sao Paulo.  Three hours after arrival I began lunch at DOM, the best restaurant in South America.  Here I am with Chef Alex Atala.  To quote:

There is, apparently, no discernible dress code in Sao Paulo.  The table next to mine had five dressed in Che Guevara wear, and the young mother breast fed her baby twice, one from each.  I was tempted to take a photo. 

Sao Paulo has what I call doo doo drops (left).  I felt safer walking around this city, but that was probably because any metropolitan area has good and bad zones.  Almost half Brazilians of Japanese heritage live in Sao Paulo.

Difficult switch, but back to cuisine, the next day I had lunch at Mani, making this the best two lunches in a row I've ever had.  Here to the right with Chef Helena Rizzo.

I started with a caipirinha, the Brazilian national cocktail made with sugarcane liquor, sugar and lime.  Her artistry is legendary.  Litchi, foie gras, baby yucca, puxuri (a fruit), and pequi, supposedly a dangerous fruit.  I guess this is their equivalent of fugu.  Here, a simple salad:

Finally, I flew to Rio de Janeiro, called the Wonderful City by residents, and I term the Happiest and Most Beautiful City in the World.  Pearl had never been here, and I did not drop off her ashes in Europe nor Sao Paulo, but Rio was exceptional...but not safe.  I got a spider bite that could have killed me, and a couple of tour members were robbed in broad daylight on the street.

For Pearl's Ash #22, I selected the city symbol, Christ the Redeemer, next to two yellow flowers at the base of the statue.

Of course, one has to have churrascaria and go to a samba show:

My round the world journey continued, and, when I return to this e-photo book in two months, probably on May 10 or 17, I will toss Pearl Ashes #23 at the Most Extraordinary Natural Wonder of the World.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States.  While baseball began as early as 1791, and the first professional team (Cincinnati) was formed in 1869, MLB officially was founded in 1903.

Who invented baseball?  While Abner Doubleday is here and there credited, in 1845 Alexander Joy Cartwright, a bank clerk, codified most of the rules that today still stand.  In 1849, at the age of 29, he moved to Hawaii, and set up a baseball field in Makiki, now called Cartwright Field.  He served as fire chief of Honolulu from 1850-1863 (left).  One of the leaders overthrowing the Hawaiian Monarch in 1893 was Lorrin Thurston, who played baseball at Punahou School with Cartwright's grandson, Alexander Joy Cartwright III.

There are 15 teams each in the American and National Leagues.  The big difference is that the NL is more traditional, and still has pitchers in the regular hitting line-up.  The AL has something called a designated  hitter.

The season starts with limited play on Sunday, April 2.  This is important, because if you subscribe to the "have every hitter slot filled everyday" strategy, you will need to, in the draft, select marginal players from the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Arizona, Chicago Cubs and St Louis.  These teams don't play on Monday, April 3, but all the other teams do, so get rid of them after the first day.  During week one, in that unusual 8-day period, only Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Milwaukee, Oakland, San Diego and Seattle play 7 games.  The season ends on October 1 when every team plays.  That is a period of exactly six months.

Thus, in your picking strategy, it would be to your advantage to select an NL pitcher, for he will have an almost sure out when the pitcher comes up to the plate.  Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Baumgartner, in the that order, are among the best hitting pitchers.  But this doesn't matter in fantasy baseball, because hitting statistics don't count for pitchers.

The best hitting ballparks are (figure stands for the number of runs scored at that home ballpark divided by the runs scored at away games):

1.  Coors Field (Rockies) 1.297
2.  The Ballpark at Arlington (Rangers) 1.125
3.  Chase Field (Diamondbacks) 1.111
4.  Fenway Park (Red Sox) 1.107
5.  Wrigley Field (Cubs) 1.101

The best pitching stadia are (lower the number, better the pitching park):

26.  Dodger Stadium 0.908
27.  Citi Field (Mets, 2009-2013) 0.897 [Shea Stadium, 2004-2008, 0.886]
28.  Tropicana Field (Rays) 0.895
29.  Safeco Field (Mariners) 0.882
30.  Petco Park (Padres) 0.811 (right)

Thus, never, never stack your line-up with pitchers from the Colorado Rockies.  San Diego Padres pitchers should be good, but the team is generally bad, so their pitchers do not win many games.

About hitters, these can vary, but generally, the only important statistics are:

Batting Average (AVG)Home Runs (HR)
Runs Scored (R)Runs Batted In (RBI)
Stolen Bases (SB)

In four of the five categories, theoretically, the more games you play, the higher should be your performance.  Thus, I generally have three to five hitters I interchange at will because on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, all teams do not play.  Thus, I always seek leagues where you have unlimited ACQUISITIONS.  Head to head leagues generally limit the number of acquisitions to 7/week.  
How you get a new player is to click on Player, located in the dark box at the top (I'm only using the standard ESPN fantasy baseball system, although most other competitions are similar).  When you get to that page, I usually click on the last 7 or 15 games played because hitters go hot and cold.  I then select, for the position, someone who has hit a lot of home runs or stolen a lot of recent bases, WITH A HIGH BATTING AVERAGE (that important fifth category).  Most leagues allow you to make any change to your lineup before the first game is played that day.

The counted pitching categories are:

Earned Run Average (ERA)*Strikeouts (K)
Walks plus Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP)*Wins (W)
Saves (SV)
*Minimum 10 IP

* The minimum 10 innings pitched is for head to head leagues.  For rotisserie leagues there generally is a 1000 innings minimum for the season.  This means you need to average 5.5 innings/day to end up at a minimum of 1000.  Nine relievers won't reach 1000 innings for the year.

But note that three of the five categories lean to the reliever's strengths:  ERA, WHIP and Saves.  Plus they do get a lot of strikeouts.  If you max out on those statistics, your odds of winning are improved.  What I then do is to pick the best pitchers available (this year I got Clayton Kershaw), then around mid-season have fun picking the best pitcher or two that day to gain wins and strikeouts, while trying to maintain my ERA and WHIP.  Some leagues permit only 200 starts/season, so that would improve my chances of gaining points in wins and strikeouts.  During the year, pitchers (and hitters) go good and bad.  Invariably, there are a lot starting pitchers available throughout the year on the free agent list.  In leagues of eight teams or more you won't find a decent closer available.

My final strategy is to pick players who play at more than one position.  For example, for one of my teams this year I have:

  Buster Posey  C (but might also play 1B this year)
  Trea Turner, 2B and OF
  Jonathan Villar, SS and 3B
  Jean Segura, SS and 2B
  Brad Miller, SS and 1B
  Eduardo Nunez, SS and 3B
  Wilson Contrares, C and OF
  Javier Baez, 2B, 3B and SS
  Jose Pedraza, SS and OF

I also have captured the market in stolen bases, with these projection expected for 2017:
  Trea Turner  44
  Jonathan Villar  57
  Jean Segura  29
  Eduardo Nunez  38
  Mookie Betts  24
  Starling Marte, 45
  Dee Gordon  58 (right...but will he do well without PEDs?)
  Billy Hamilton  67
  Jose Pedraza  41

You can of course go to something like Rotowire, which gives great fantasy baseball tips.  However, here are a few simple ones of mine:
  • On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, use the free agent list to fill up on your batting order.
  • Home run hitters are most important, for they count as HR, RBI and R, but attempt to get players who also steal bases, if they also have a good batting average and hit some home runs.
  • All teams play Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Consider a strategy based around stoppers, set-up pitchers and closers.
  • Keep up everyday, and be aware of injuries.
  • Enjoy yourself, for nothing much else occurs in the summertime
Tomorrow, Pearl's Ashes continues in Rio de Janeiro.  However, after that, my e-book on this subject goes on hiatus for two months, as I will be on my next around the world trip.


Monday, March 20, 2017


Today is the first day of Spring.  Unless you want to skydive, pilot a glider or go to, surely, the most beautiful beach on Oahu, a trip to Waialua and Kaena Point is something you only rarely do.  Mostly photography club members joined our mentor, Scott, of the Honolulu Museum of Art, on a photo tour of north Oahu.  Approaching the town of Waialua, we passed a bank of wind energy conversion devices.  Below, you should be able to count at least 8 egrets:

Our first stop was to the Waialua Old Sugar Mill, here, the remaining boiler stack:

The bagasse storage area is now a soap shop.  The adjacent shopping outlet:

Note the No Artificial Nothing.  Grown in Wailua flavors of papaya, coffee, dark chocolate, pineapple and mango.  Also, taro (used to make poi), something I've never seen before.

Part of our tour party of 15:

Kaena Point ahead:

Are they nude?  Nah.

Returning to 15 Craigside, we passed Waialua High and Intermediate School, which has six grades and an enrollment of 636.  According to U.S. News and World Report, this is the 3rd best public high school in the state, with only Mililani and Kalani rated higher.

Dillingham Airfield is now a shell of what it was during World War II, when B-29 Superfortress bombers landed here.  Back then it was called Mokuleia Airfield.  In 1946 the Army expanded the area and renamed it Dillingham Air Force Base in memory of Captain Henry Gaylord Dillingham, who was killed in a B-29 over Kawasaki, Japan in 1945.  He was the son of Walter F. Dillingham and grandson of Benjamin Dillingham, who founded the railroad that took passengers from Kahuku to Honolulu via Kaena Point.  This company evolved into Hawaiian Dredging and the Dillingham Corporation, which built the Ala Moana Shopping Center.  The airfield is now largely used by gliders and skydivers.

In the general background is Mount Kaala, at 4025 feet, the highest point on Oahu.  Interestingly enough, while the Koolau Range now only has a peak of 3100 feet, at one time a couple of million years ago, the highest elevation exceeded 9800 feet.  

Koolau was once a crater, and the north side falling into the sea about a million years ago was the Nuuanu Landslide, possibly the largest ever in history, as one-third of the island fell into the sea, and remnants remain at the bottom of the ocean off Kaneohe.  There no doubt was a megatsunami generated.  Read my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.  15 Craigside is bordered by Nuuanu Avenue.  My final chapter of that book has Hilo fall into the sea, with a title:  Six Hours to Seattle.

Dillingham Ranch is located here, a historic plantation estate, equestrian center, and filming location for many movies.

On the way home we passed by Schofield Barracks.  Fifty-four years ago I trained here, bringing back terrible memories.

However, today was the nicest day of the year.  No vog, gentle trades, sunny skies...what a wonderful day.  Back home at 15 Craigside (that larger sign refers to where I lived next door for 32 years):

Tomorrow I will present Part 2 of HOW TO PLAY FANTASY BASEBALL.  Now that you've signed up for a team, what will be your draft selection strategy and how you can actually win with the right strategy.  Don't leave the game to chance.