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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

15 CRAIGSIDE GOES TO M/W RESTAURANT

Earlier this month, 15C went to Budnamujip, where an introduction was provided for MW Restaurant.  Fourteen of us were in the MW group, but only the seven on our table appear in the photos.

All previous experiences here, reviews we had seen and personal discussions we had with others were positive, if not glowing.  However, last night we were all disappointed, our table much more than the second.  Apparently, for a reason not adequately explained, their kitchen that night had some problems.  Perhaps we were imagining things, but the staff seemed under some heavy stress.  We tried to be as understanding as possible, and, in most instances, should be given gold medals for our acceptance of less than tolerable conditions.  A second factor might have been that we were placed in a side room lacking in any aesthetics, where it was easier to forget us, since we were the only ones in that space for the first two hours.

Let me begin with the drinks.  First, some of us weren't asked.  Second, someone ordered VO Canadian Whiskey on rocks.  Third, bad choice on my part, for I ordered the Chef's Tasting Menu with their wine pairing, and the first drink comes with course #1.  After reminding various staffers five times, at least half an hour later, the whiskey orderer was told that, sorry, they did not have any VO.  But at least she then got her red wine.  I had to wait another half an hour for my first drink, which came with the meal.  You ask, why didn't I have a martini or aperitif of some sort?  Six wines were to come and I thought that that was way too much.  To the left, Paula, Pepper and Eric playing charade (hint:  they are signifying VO).

Anyhoo, finally came the Champagne Duetz with Osetra Caviar on Hawaiian Hearts of Palm Panna Cotta (I'm getting picky here, but it's hard to stomach Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, for that kills the plant--well, there is a Kauai company that says their palm then sprouts a new trunk), 


Osetra (and my computer keeps changing this to Austria, no matter what I do) only comes from Russia and is second to Beluga in cost.  What's wrong above?  This caviar is BLACK, and Osetra is supposed to be gold to brown.  Osetra means sturgeon in Russian.  You think, maybe, they substituted something cheaper?

Next came a Quartet of Small Bites:


They were all not at the right temperature, but edible.  Another mistake here is that someone brought a Kasumi Tsuru Sake (only Junmai, and it tasted like the bottle was opened a week ago), out of order.

The third course was seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Hawaiian Cacao and Raisin Chutney:


A glass of Domaine La Tour, Banyals Grenache was served, a sweet red wine and quite nice with this dish.  However, the foie gras must have been prepared fifteen minutes too early, for it was cooler than lukewarm by the time I got it.

The Mochi Crusted Opakapaka was almost excellent, but much too salty:


Here is where the sake was supposed to come.  I think they recognized their error, so they brought a second glass of sake.  I must say that the staff made numerous attempts at amends for their mistakes, to my benefit.  For example, I am allergic to crustaceans, so, at my request, they substituted their vaunted Truffle Local Egg Flan for the Kona Cold Lobster, with a Dr. F. Weins-Prum Riesling (a Kabinett, the cheapest, compared to Spatlese and Auslese).  Mind you, they did indicate that they might be adding a surcharge for this favor, and it probably had to do with the truffle:


I think this is where MW is being almost deceptive.  The server went through the exercise of shaving this fungus, and gave me so much that I wondered how they could afford this.  Stanley Ho (he is in the middle) of Hong Kong has paid more than $100,000/pound for white truffles.  The one served here is black and not as expensive.  However, when I sniffed the cup, there was zero smell of the distinctive truffle pungency. Only later did one of the waitresses admit that this truffle was not of the quality "usually" served.

Finally, Washugyu American Kobe Beef with Wailua Onion and inundated with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette:


If I may recommend, reduce the sauce by a factor of ten, or completely, as the steak tasted like a dessert, sweet.  What a waste!  Halfway through this dish I noticed that the final red wine had not yet been served, so I inquired, and relatively quickly came a Gamay Noir, which, like the sake, seemed to have come from a bottle that was not recently opened.

At this point it was about three hours into dinner and the other table had already eaten their desserts.  We waited another half an hour for ours, and hastily finished to go home:


On the left, something called Floating Island, Lilikoi Frozen Souffle, Lilikoi Sorbet, Tropical Fruits, Poached Meringue with Pineapple Elderflower Consomm√©, plus something called Candy Bar and Donuts to the right.  I somehow shared this combo with the entire table and must say that the desserts were fabulous, when compared to the rest of the meal.

Mind you, at our table I think I complained less that a couple of others.  So much so that we had a running estimate of the tip we were planning to give.  Starting at 20%, we were down to 3%, at the end, but were encouraged by the person in charge from 15C to consider 15%.  Finally, the President of our group said 12% and no more.   The point is that we just had to leave a message to the management.  Three percent would have been more appropriate.

Henry sitting next to me waited, and waited and waited for his entre.  I don't think I am exaggerating, but his dish came half an hour after we had all finished.  The excuse was that the kitchen, to preserve quality, felt that the first piece of fish was a tad too small, so they had to re-do everything.    You would think, if this was so, that they would have informed him of the circumstances.  They must have a list of excuses to provide.  Henry, ever the gentleman, simply ate his dinner and waited for dessert...and waited.  Here he is, with Audrey to his left, earlier, showing off his poke, which he loved.  Jerilynn with her first course.

The good news, Henry did not have to pay for his entre, and they deleted the cost of my wine pairing ($60) and did not charge me any extra for that deceitful truffle flan.  We returned back to 15C just about four hours after we first left.

I sat in the shuttle next to Cookie, in charge of programs at 15C, and we discussed the prospects in the future of featuring some uber high end restaurants, such as Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa, a Japanese beef establishment, with a minimum $200 charge, before drinks.  Or, maybe Vintage Cave, where the tasting menu is $295, plus wine.  Coming up in July and August:  Bac Nam (Vietnamese), Signature (steak), Hoku's (expensive lunch place) and Ocean House (seafood on the beach at Waikiki)
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Tropical Storm Chan-hom is now predicted to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane and pass between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands:


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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SOLAR IMPULSE WILL ARRIVE IN HAWAII ON FRIDAY


Solar Impulse 2 left Japan Sunday morning at 8AM Hawaii time and should arrive at Kalaeloa Airport, Barbers Point, Honolulu, on Friday:


After the plane gets here, next stop, Phoenix.

You'd think all the pilot does is sit around and gain weight, but the stress and physical strain are such that he needs to eat 3500 kcal/day, about 7.5 double cheeseburgers, and drink just about a gallon of fluids/day.  The food is mushed up by Nestle, and, typical might be mushroom risotto and tomatoes/parsley/mint/onion salad..squashed.  There is no heating and temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees F.  Keep track of the flight at Solar Impulse 2.  You can listen in on communications, which seems to be in French.  At this posting:

TIME OF DEPARTURE28/06/2015 18:03 UTC
FLIGHT TIME2d 1h 22m 26s
DISTANCE3338 km
ALTITUDE5165 ft (1574 m)
BATTERIES CHARGE35%
GROUND SPEED15.3 KTS

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Tropical Depression Chan-hom has popped up in the region of the Federal States of Micronesia, where computer models show a strengthening into a Category 2 and path in the direction of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands:


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Monday, June 29, 2015

TED 2: Maybe the Worst Movie of the Year?

I yesterday went to see Ted 2, a foul-mouthed, silly, predictable and enjoyable spoof, if you can tolerate the F-bombs and general scatalogy.  Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 47% reviewers rating, but 71% of audiences liked it.  In many ways this version equaled the original, with 67%/74% RT ratings.  

Mark Wahlberg plays the friend-foil, while the voice of Ted is provided by the director, Seth MacFarlane.  The storyline has to do with Ted being property or human.  How did he become alive anyway?  Well, you need to first see Ted and buy  into the reason.  Skits are inserted with cameos by  Tom Brady, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Liam Neeson and many others, maybe the best part of the movie, except that the transitions are hardly seamless.

Ted 2 came in third this weekend and will eventually earn its production cost when worldwide revenues come in.  Yes, there is rumored to be a Ted 3.

Of course, Ted and Ted 2 are only a pale excuse for prurience when compared to the worst movie of 2013, Movie 43, which was over the top gross and profane.  I should add, racist, gender challenged and more. There will never again be a film of such obvious pornographic and civil rights excess with noteworthy stars, for the cast had 14 Oscar nominations, including for best actor and best actress, at the Academy Awards that year.  Maybe for that reason, I was entertained.  There are twelve parts, and all 13 directors earned Razzies that year.  What stars?
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Gerard Butler
  • Richard Gere
  • Halle Berry
  • Uma Thurman
  • Emma Stone
  • Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet
  • Kate Bosworth
  • Lieve Schreiber
  • Terrance Howard 
  • Chloe Grace Moretz
  • Jason Sudeikis
  • Chris Pratt (yes, the guy in Jurassic World, #1 again this week)

and others.  Performances of Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman are typical, and as I can't show their movie characters in this G-rated blog site, feel free to click on THIS.  Rotten Tomatoes gave Movie 43 4% reviewers and 24% audience ratings.  On my Roku, I noticed that Netflix does not carry this film, but Amazon does.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

IN THE BEGINNING, MAN CREATED GOD


The above comes from Aqualung by Jethro Tull, not a person, but a British rock band.  The group first formed in 1967 and Aqualung has been referred to as "extremely profound."

However, you can trace the concept back through Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, certainly to the time of the ancient Greeks and, almost sure early in the development of hominoids, for the logic makes more sense than the reverse, for, then, who created God?  

There are, of course, books on this subject.  And Man Created God by Selina O'Grady's goes back to the time of Jesus and is pedantic, in a religious sort of way.  And Man Created God by Robert Banks, observes more from the New Atheist point of view.  The problem is that both authors are Christian scholars and approach the subject as if The Bible and its characters were real.  They kind of miss the whole point of this controversy.

Yes, there is a lot more.  Another And Man Created God was written by Schlomo Shaham, professor of law and a criminologist.  He has published more than a hundred books.

You can buy AMCG for $75 from Amazon, but, according to this link, you also can get it for free.  I lost interest in this reference because it:  presents a new theory of mytho-empiricism based on the mythological concepts of Claude Levi-Strauss and the structuralism of Jeanne Piaget.  

Ah, And Man Created God by George Carl Mynchenberg was written by an Agnostic.  He uses science, history and logic, while denying all religious beliefs and faith revelations from God.  Curious that you can buy this book from Amazon for $15.93, but can also rent it for $21.  Finally, And Man Created God, this one by Mary Jane Sheehy-Moffett, who writes about a journey to freedom.

Clearly, this subject matter must be compelling, for it convinced six publishing houses to publish yet another AMCG with exactly the same title.

Here now is my concise take on this subject.  Early in the transition of Homo sapiens, say, 100,000 years ago, it became fashionable for tribe leaders to gain control, maintain security and reinforce solidarity by alluding to a god-like figure that watches over all and promises something like heaven in the end, but only if you are a good citizen.  This individual no doubt gave the impression that he (more than she) actually had a direct communication link through prayer, which everyone in the cave was urged to emulate.  Humans thrived and became the dominant creature on Planet Earth.  We might be here today because in the beginning Man created God.

Today, you would think with our educational system, television, the internet and preeminence of science, the masses would finally see the true light.  Richard Dawkins, in his God Delusion certainly makes sense.  Well, religion is almost as strong as it's ever been.  In the USA, more than 90% have historically believed in God.  The belief rate in Europe, Japan and Israel is much, much lower, in the 10% to 25% range.  These polls, though, depend on who is asking the question to whom.  A particularly surprising survey result was obtained by the French Ipsos Social Research Institute, involving 18,000 people from 23 countries (no countries from the Middle East, where belief rates are the highest):
  • Only 51% believed in God 
  • The same number, 51% thought there would be an afterlife
  • Belief in a Supreme Being
    • Indonesia  93%
    • Turkey  91%  
    • Brazil  84% 
    • Mexico 78%
  • Less than 40 in the USA believed in heaven/hell (all previous polls I've seen have been much higher)
  • 41% believed in evolution
Let me end with a direct quote from a book I'm reading, Science and Religion, edited by Paul Kurtz.  You think AMCG had a lot of identical titles?  The combination of Science and Religion has five times more, although sometimes the book is called Religion and Science, for which the Albert Einstein version sells for 99 cents.  This quote is from an essay by Sir Hermann Bondi (Cambridge Professor and eminent mathematician and cosmologist) from Kurtz's compilation:

If thought about such a god gives comfort to individuals, I, for one, would not wish to argue them out of it.  Indeed, if believers look at their faith as a purely personal matter, then there can be no dispute. But many believers (including the leadership of most institutionalized religions) regard their faith, based on revelation, as THE TRUTH, applicable to all people everywhere and at all times.  These persons view everyone who does not share their particular faith as in error.

The monstrous arrogance of this outlook is hard to stomach.  The wide variety of faiths and their mutual contradictions must mean that at most one of them can be right and that all the others are wrong.  It follows logically that the human mind has a tendency to believe, sincerely and often with fervor, something that is false.  To think that oneself and one's fellow believers in one's own faith are uniquely exempt from this general weakness is self-centeredness of stupendous magnitude....

The words flow on, but the point of Bondi's logic is that if all religions are right, this is impossible, ergo, there can be no God.

All the above makes you wonder what will be the fate of religion over the next few millennia.  In SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity I provided a pathway entitled The Golden Evolution.  However, you don't need to buy the book (although the e-version only costs $3.99), for I serialized the entire publication here in this blog beginning with Part 1.  More so, to integrate religion into one God, maybe there should be a modern day Council of Nicaea for all religions to gather and re-write The Bible, Koran and similar sacred writings, updating the thousands of versions into a unified text.  I actually hinted at such a summit in my book above.  Sir Bondi would retort, I would suggest, with something like, why bother?  But Kurtz and Bondi are no longer with us, so I will perhaps later post on The New Golden Evolution.

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Invest 90C remains a minimal concern, but one computer model now shows one pathway right through the Hawaiian Islands:


Also almost worthy of reportage, but there was last night a 5.2 earthquake of a link to Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island:


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

WHAT ARE THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES TODAY?

Wikipedia lists more than a thousand controversial issues.  Debate.org has a nice assortment.  If you narrow the choice to, say, 10, it depends on who comes up with the list.  For example, GrammarCheck has abortion as #10, with a nice graphic:


#9 is capital punishment:


  • #8  animal testing
  • #7  genetic cloning
  • #6  human trafficking
  • #5  ethnic adoption
  • #4  plastic surgery (the photo shown caught my attention)
  • #3  pharmaceutical industry
  • #2  the right to die (I thought that the following graphic was revealing):
  • #1  immigration
Immigration as the most controversial?  Best as I can tell, this is just one person providing his opinion.  Where is religion?  Global warming?  Same sex marriage?  Marijuana?  Obama?  I am, similarly, an individual, and while I have of course posted on a few of GrammarCheck's list, as for example, human cloning, some of my issues are more universal, while others are almost trivial.  Over the next week I'll touch on the relevance of libraries, maybe another foray into "three strikes and you're dead," our obsolete Constitution and gun rights, and as tomorrow is Sunday, let me start with:  IN THE BEGINNING, MAN CREATED GOD.

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There is a disturbance south and west of the Big Island.  One projection shows a path towards Hawaii:

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Friday, June 26, 2015

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT STRUGGLES, BUT CONTINUES TO ADVANCE

Having been involved with sustainable energy resources BEFORE the first Energy Crisis in 1973, I've long lamented that the solar energy industry just happened by accident.  The fundamental science and engineering have not yet been developed.  Companies jump into the commercialization on the range of renewable technologies and many fail, most because they have high expectations and this potential is not yet real.

A good example might be fuels from algae.  I had my first such project with the Electric Power Research Institute to enhance the growth of micro algae by feeding carbon dioxide from power plant stack gasses into a raceway.  That was exactly 40 years ago.  Here we had a system that theoretically could produce up to ten times the biomass compared to any terrestrial crop, while neutralizing global warming.  How much more terrific can a project be?  This was not my bioreactor, but I'm standing next to an advanced concept built by my Institute at the University of Hawaii two decades later.   So what happened?  There is a huge difference between theory and reality.  The basic fundamental research had not yet been accomplished when we fiddled around with these micro algae-to-fuel efforts.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Energy is, four decades later, beginning to establish Bioenergy Technologies Incubators.  In time, the field should better be able to become commercially competitive.

On another positive front, the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act is being advanced by a bipartisan group in the U.S. Congress to allow renewables to participate in tax breaks on larger projects.  Only fossil fuels are currently eligible.  Rather than having your eyes glaze over with the details, for those interested, click on that Act to read about this effort.  

The legislation is being co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D-DE, above left) and Mark Mason (R-KS, above right) in the Senate and Ted Poe (R-TX. left) and Mike Thompson (D-CA, right) in the House.  This practical, market-driven solution will unleash private capital and create jobs, Coons said. He stated that in addition to broad support from Republicans and Democrats, the MLP Act has also received the support of academics, investors, and business leaders. Incidentally, how's this for a background:  Senator Coons is a Yale Lawyer who was a relief volunteer in Kenya, worked for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York and campaigned for Ronald Reagan's presidency.  Note, he is now a Democrat.  As you might have perceived, there is also a dominance of white, Anglo-Saxon males in  solar energy.

Many can't afford to just fly to any major solar conference around the world, but there are options these days, such as webcasts.  These tend to be almost always free.  So, if you have an hour or so  at 1PM EDT (5PM GMT) on Tuesday, June 30, register for:


Answers will be provided to the following questions;

  1. What are the current market dynamics and where are the challenges?
  2. What are the real-world benefits on both sides of the meter?
  3. What is needed to minimize risk and accelerate deployment?
The speakers will all be from DNV GL:  Ray Hudson (above left, Director), Terrance Schuyler (above right, Principal Consultant, DNV GL) and Michael Kleinberg (just above, right, Senior Consultant). DNV GL is a European organization involved with certification and classification.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  There are no major ocean storms and the weather in Hawaii will continue to be fabulous.

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