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Thursday, August 31, 2017

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH ROKU, VESPER AND IRMA?

Before I go into Vesper, Roku (and this is not the streaming player you have providing TV channels--we are talking about a new Japanese gin) and Irma (a potentially dangerous hurricane), I felt compelled to extend the Jake Shimabukuro post by showing you my Kamaka Ukulele, to the left.

Well, this is Pearl's, and I'm considering learning how to play it.  We have classes here at 15 Craigside.  And, by the way, a brand new one can be purchased for around $1000.  However, if you've kept up with this blog site, you know that my first priority is to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on my new 61-key Portable Light Keyboard Electronic MII Keyboard to the right.

For the record, a chicken, Jokgu, is smarter than me.  She learned how to play that song in two weeks. I'm getting close to three months, and have not yet mastered Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  
My excuse is that I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to practice.  What makes it even worse for me is that she and her sister got booted off America's Got Talent.  Me, I almost daily trip over this electronic keyboard, but can't get myself to turn it on.  But I will, someday.

So to the topic of the day, I caught The Bus into Waikiki and had lunch at Orchids with a colleague from the University of Tokyo, Miki Nakayama.  We had a great lunch with Diamond Head, starting with Bloody Mary, and I followed with a salad, then their signature steamed onaga, which was fabulous:


At this point we added the house Chardonnay.  The waiter took our photo with Diamond Head:


As Japanese visitors sometimes do, Miki gave me a bottle of Suntory Roku Gin.  Roku means six in Japanese, and refers to the six natural botanicals used to complement the Juniper:  cherry blossoms, cherry leaves, two types of green tea, sancho pepper  (not really a pepper but a citrus) and yuzu (a Japanese citrus).  Japan already shattered the Scottish dominance of single malts by in 2003 being selected as the two best blended and single malt whiskeys in Glasgow:  Nikka Yoichi 20-year old and Suntory Hibiki 30-year old.  Since then the best single malts have also come from places like Taiwan and Tasmania.  I can already predict that Suntory's Roku will be selected as the #1 gin in a couple of years.  It tastes like gin, but has a soft hint of something more.

Which country produces the best gin?  This year, the World's Best Gin was judged to be Herno Gin Old Tom from Sweden.  Best Traditional Style went to Penninger Granit Bavarian Gin from Germany.

All this is similarly unexpected, for this potion was developed in the Middle Ages as an herbal medicine, and took root in England first as an alcoholic drink.  The dominant flavor is from juniper berries, and the name derived from the English geneva, French genievre and Dutch jenever.

Miki then recounted to me his experiences with Vesper, a martini made of gin, vodka and Kina Lillet.  more specifically:
The drink was invented and named by Ian Fleming in the 1953 James Bond novel Casino Royale.
"A dry martini," [Bond] said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."
"Oui, monsieur."
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.
Bond laughed. "When I'm, er, concentrating," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."
Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Chapter 7

This glass to the left is standard.  As you seek to perfect Vesper keep in mind that Gordon's Gin was reformulated in 1992 and Kina Lillet had a formula change in 1986.  

You might now want to consider Cocchi Americano (think Italian Moscato di Asti with quinine), which imparts a more bitter finish.  Grain vodka is preferred and the 94.6 proof Gordon's Gin has become the gin of choice.  But this is hard to find, so the Tanqueray 94.6 proof (above right) is usually used.
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Harvey continues his path to the northeast.  However, Hurricane Irma at 100 MPH just popped up in the Atlantic.



The future path is unpredictable, but here are some projection models:


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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

CHAPTER 25: Pearl's Ashes--La Mer

Pearl's favorite restaurant was La Mer at the Halekulani Hotel.  It was on 1 December 2012 that I dropped off Pearl's Ashes #40 in these environs.  That photo at the top of this blog was taken at House Without a Key here.  To quote from my posting the following day:

Chaine des Rotisseurs (CdR) is a 764 year old eating club having our annual dinner at the Halekulani Hotel.  I long ago belonged to El Capitan, another eating club, this one only about a century old, when I was at Stanford, but the club is presently no more for a variety of reasons, and primarily because the school a dozen years ago abolished all of them. 

Why were eating clubs outlawed?  There's probably a simple  and more innocent reason, but academic conspiracy keeps coming up, and this site suggests that the administration wanted to insure that Stanford did not cultivate anything resembling Yale's Skull and Bones and so called secret "final" clubs in the Ivy League.  Harvard is only now in the process of doing something similar (termination?) to all student organization.

I decided to spend the night at the Halekulani Hotel, and this was my view to the right.  Pearl and I did this on several occasions for special occasions. 

The Chaine dinner was our annual formal affair, with tuxedos.  Caviar, of course.  The usual lobster, beef, fancy dessert and after dinner dinner sweets.  
The highlight was the quality and variety of wines.  The full list would take up too much space.  But, to the right, are "some" of the glasses.  The wine expert for the night was Patrick Okubo, sitting across me, who was the world's youngest sommelier then, and now has become famous.

I still have a dozen more PA's, but will take a holiday for the next few months to complete this e-book.  I'll explain why a week from today.  My posting on September 7 will announce the future of this blog 

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Harvey is finally moving northeast:



USA Today reports that at $160 billion, Hurricane Harvey would become the most damaging natural disaster in U.S. history.  Worst till Harvey?
1. Hurricane Katrina
  • Cost: $149 Billion
  • Fatalities: 1,836
  • Date: August 2005
  • Location: Mississippi and Louisiana
Katrina reached wind speeds of 174 mph, but the biggest damage was caused by the 20-30 foot storm surge, which broke levees and flooded 80% of New Orleans. Farms were destroyed. LSU AgCenter calculated that over $1 billion of the total loss was in crops, cattle, fisheries, and forestry. Towns and homes across the Gulf Coast were flooded and damaged, and thousands were forced to abandon their homes. In total, over 1,800 people died, in spite of efforts to evacuate before the storm struck.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

JAKE SHIMABUKURO: BEST UKE EVER

One list has Jake Shimabukuro as the Best Ukulele Player in the World.  Strange list, though, as Daniel Ho is #14, Eddie Kamae is #17 and Taylor Swift is #43.  Here is a link to the 12 Best Ukulele Videos on You Tube...with Jake at #1.  It now has 15.5 million views, and is the clip that made him virally famous.

The world might be more familiar with names like Roy Smeck and George Formby from old movies, Arthur Godfrey on television, or, maybe even, Tiny Tim with his Tiptoe Through the Tulips.  But Hawaii is where the uke was invented, deriving from the Portuguese machete.

Early local virtuosos started with Ernest Kaai, who published the first ukulele instruction book in 1910--The Ukulele:  A Hawaiian Guitar.  It's still on sale from Amazon for $563.12.  Only two used copies left.

"King" Benny Nawai (right) performed on Matson Lines in the 20's and 30's, became totally blind in 1935, but continued his uke playing.  He spent a career in vaudeville.

Blind from the age of 10, John Almeida (left) composed over 300 songs, and was the Dean of Hawaiian Music.  He too played on Matson ships and helped start 49th State records from where came the greatest Hawaiian music.

Jesse Kalima (right) won The Hawaii Amateur Championship in 1935 at the age of 15 with his signature Stars and Stripes Forever.  He was one of the Kalmia Brothers (one of the three was a cousin) known as 1000 Pounds of Melody.

Andy Cummings in 1938, while on a concert tour, at 5 F in Michigan, composed Waikiki.  Sometimes you need to be away to appreciate what you have.

In 1960 Gabby Pahinui (slack-key guitar) and Eddie Kamae, known for his uke, formed The Sons of Hawaii.  Many credit Kamae with the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance.  He learned to play the ukulele when his bus driver brother found one on his bus.

More recently, there has been an ethnic-Japanese (all born in Hawaii) connection to the ukulele.  Ohta-san was inspired by Eddie Kamae, and in 1955, at the age of 21, Herb Ohta performed Lady of Spain on his use on the Ed Sullivan Show, leading to a long career of 30 albums.  Read about Song for Anna.


He was mentor to Roy Sakuma, who started his Annual Hawaiian Ukulele Festival in 1971, now the largest in the world.  He earlier this year was featured at 15 Craigside, mostly telling the story of his life.  One of the students in Roy Sakuma Studio was Jake Shimabukuro.

Jake began entertaining as a member of Pure Heart, a trio with Lopaka Colon and Jon Yamasato in 1998.  They broke up in 2002, but just this past weekend came together for a performance at the Hawaii Theater.

There is an annual music awards program in Hawaii called Na Hoku Hanohano.  He has won 16 awards since his first in 1999.

He plays a 4-string tenor Kamaka Ukulele.  Likes to plug it into an amplifier to play it loud.

Having attained commercial success, now at 41, he has leads the Four String Foundation to give kids an opportunity to make a difference:  strive to be the best, live drug-free and have fun.

Now, why he would appear at 15 Craigside is the same reason as why the Royal Hawaii Band comes twice/year...we are at the gateway to Purgatory.  Also, probably through knowing someone.

He gave us a full concert of his hits, and told us his life story.  His wife of six years is an OB/GYN physician, and they have two sons.  This was probably the best concert I've ever attended.  Front row and free.

I last saw Jake at least ten years ago.  I would swear that, not only is he a lot better looking, he looks younger.  Here with Sue, who have him her personally-make lei:


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Now Tropical Storm Harvey is back in the Gulf of Mexico continues to inundate Houston:


However, an area called Mary's Creek at Winding Road has already seen 49.2 inches, the most ever for the 48-states, and it's still raining.  Next, Louisiana, but by Friday, Harvey will begin to make a more traditional track to the northeast:



Current estimated damages are now up to $42 billion.  Katrina was around $100 billion.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

15 CRAIGSIDE HOLO HOLO TO THE WAIANAE COAST

Before the next holo holo adventure, I need to add one more detail about my RICE posting (scroll down to the next article) yesterday.  I grew up with white rice.  Now I learn brown rice is much better for your health, for the milling/polishing process:

  • strips away B vitamins, iron and fiber
  • removes the subaleurone layer, which protects against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis
  • eliminates ingredients that lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
Further, this bran layer providing all those above benefits is 11% of the grain, and not recycled in any way.  Just thrown away!  My first thought is to just collect this by-product and process it into a super pill.  So far, I haven't found any reference indicating that this brown part of the rice is recovered in any way.  When I do, I'll let you know.

Finally, the hull and husk comprise 20% of the crop.  In the past, this portion was also just discarded, which costs money. As the silica content is too high, it couldn't be utilized for animal feed.  Now, this material is being used for:
  • insulation
  • renewable energy
  • soil aeration
  • animal bedding
  • particle boards
  • reinforce rubber tires
  • concrete mix
The worst insult of all is that nutritionists now say that all the white stuff I once ate growing up--milk, sugar, bread, salt and RICE- are very bad for your health, and are the primary cause of obesity and hypertension.  Apparently, though, eggs are now considered okay and even butter is not all that terrible, after all.  Coffee is good.  I wonder if this brew will begin to be allowed for children?

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15 Craigside has a sign-up sheet for a monthly holo holo (to go out, especially for a ride of leisure) to somewhere around the island of Oahu.  Our sister property, Arcadia, also is included.  Our standard van is breaking down, and a new one is supposedly on order.  Yesterday we again used a 28-seat beauty with large windows and good air conditioning.

There were 22 of us, led by tour guide Tony, who grew up in Maili, ideal, because the holo holo was to the Waianae Coast:


I'll get to the beaches later, but the mauka (mountain) side of the coastline also was of interest.  For example, there is the Lualualei VLF (very low frequency) Transmitter of the U.S. Navy, which was at one time the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere.  I did not realize then, but my brother, Stan, a structural engineer for the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory in Port Hueneme, in 1972, was involved with the construction and follow-up operations.  He never talked about this much, and now I know why  It was all very secret.  VLF transmitters communicate with and track submarines.

Makua Valley has a variety of endangered species and is full of archeological ruins, including temples and sites where humans were sacrificed.  It is supposedly the mythical birthplace of the Hawaiian people.  Well, since the 1920's the U.S. Army has trained there, and occupies 4200 acres, an issue of some local contention:



We got as far as this sign, but the road through Kaena Point State Park was blocked.  Something to do with the downed Blackhawk helicopter last week.


The closure occurred at Yokohama Beach:


I had not been in this area for many decades and was surprised by the unexpected beauty and lack of people basking on these various beaches:


Directly above is Pokai Bay.  The highlight of the trip was Makua Cave:


If you're driving from Honolulu, you could easily miss this spot.  However, across the road are these two signs, where you can park.  Ana is cave in Hawaiian, and the original name was Kaneana:


The ocean view from this site:


We stopped by MacDonald's to use the rest room.  The least we could do was buy something, but I was the only one that purchased anything:  fries and coke:


As it was around 3:45 PM, this ruined my dinner.  On the way home, a shot of Hawaiian Electric's Kahe Power Plant (650 MW) and the Ko Olina development:


Back home above.  Tomorrow, Jake Shimabukuro entertains us at 15 Craigside:


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Tropical Storm Harvey is now back in the Gulf of Mexico, and will slowly move east and north:


Houston and the region surrounding this metropolis will take a year and more to recover.  Next, Louisiana.  Damage and casualties are mounting.

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