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Friday, August 18, 2017


This past week has been notable, especially for residents of the tables I join for dinner at 15 Craigside.  Two articles appeared in the local paper, one reporting on a study that the moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, and another that even heavy drinking reduces dementia,

Many of us have high blood sugar.  There is a myth that ethanol breaks down into sugar, so don't drink.  But the misunderstanding is that ethanol is produced from the fermentation of sugar, which is not reversible.  This Danish research project, monitoring 76,484 humans for five years. suggested that, compared with those who abstain, consuming alcohol three or four days a week was associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes--27% for men and 32% for women.  Additionally:  
  • Seven glasses of wine/week lowered the risk of diabetes by 25%-35%.
  • However, the lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks/week for men and 9 drinks/week for women!
  • For men, one to six glasses/week of beer lowered the risk by 21%, but there was no impact on females.  Didn't see the equivalent "lowest risk" volume, which should be around double that range if logic prevails.
  • However, gin and other spirits could well increase getting diabetes by 83%, but only for females.  Well, at least it stipulates women, for some reason, but, again, logic can only lead to this same projection for males.
Regarding dementia, 1000 middle class white men and women were contacted every four years for three decades by the University of California in San Diego.  They found that those who drank moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol five to seven days/week were twice as likely to be more healthy than non-drinkers.  Those who had up to three drinks on most days were twice as likely to reach 85 without developing dementia.  LET ME REPEAT THIS:  THOSE WHO HAD UP TO THREE DRINKS ON MOST DAYS WERE TWICE AS LIKELY TO REACH 85 WITHOUT DEVELOPING DEMENTIA.

What is "good" heavy drinking, anyway?  For men over 65, four drinks/day.  Three/day for older females.  Read the details in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

It has long been known that ethanol, particularly red wine, was good for your heart.  For these two just-mentioned studies, red wine was not specifically identified, and beer was added.  Now, in any case, alcohol is also good for your head.

Hate to ruin what you might have thought was healthy...but tea is not proven to shield you from dementia.  This bit of surprising news comes from a National University of Singapore study of 900 Chinese people 55 and above.  However, a Harvard report of another (?) National University of Singapore study, this over five years, following 957 adults of average 65 years, showed that tea drinkers had a 50% lower risk of dementia!!!  

Contradictory, but my analysis is that both are pointing to the same study, and the confusion came in the interpretations.  This was one of those complicated cases where one publication looked at the silver lining, while the other looked for flaws.  It happens all the time.  

Well, does tea prevent Alzheimer's or not?  Tea has caffeine, and caffeine is more and more indicated as the active agent in the delay of dementia.  So, tea-drinking must be healthful!  I haven't seen anything, anyway, that indicates tea is bad for your health.

What about coffee?  Three cups of coffee/day cut the risk of Alzheimer's by more than 25%.  Also works against Parkinson's.  Now, this announcement comes from the European Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.  It does worry me a bit that this "non-profit" is funded by Illycaffe, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Nestle, Paulig and Tchibo.   What are they?  Only the six largest coffee companies on the continent. 

Further, from a Finnish medical school:  coffee drinking of 3-5 cups per day at midlife was associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD by about 65% at late-life.  But from Old Dominion University from the USA,:  coffee can reduce the levels of beta amyloid, a destructive protein commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, by as much as 50%.  So there is reason to believe that the "coffee is good for you" story is not purely connivance by a European coffee cartel.

Case in point, Alzheimer', an American organization, reports that caffeine:
  • Blocks inflammation in the brain, delaying the onset of Alzheimer's.
  • Is an adenosine receptor antagonist, which is good.
  • Boosts brain function and memory.
  • Protects against Type 2 diabetes...which can lead to Alzheimer's.  Did you know that 70% of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes go on to develop Alzheimer's disease?
Let me also add that:
  • 25% of older people have diabetes and 50% in addition are pre-diabetic.
  • While 30 million Americans have diabetes, 84 million more have pre-diabetes.
  • Are you concerned about a future Alzheimer's crisis?
  • Five years ago it was determined that diabetes costs the nation $245 billion/year.  Must be higher today, and the long term implications are frightening.
Back to caffeine, you now have a judgement call to make about de-caffeinated coffee.  But caffeine can affect sleep.  So what is more important, sleep or diabetes/dementia? Yes, I need to let you know that a lack of sleep can spur Alzheimer's.   Decisions. Decisions.

Wait a minute now.  Tea leaves have more caffeine than coffee beans.  Why shouldn't tea be as good, if not better, as coffee, for combatting dementia?  For one, the brewing process for coffee is more efficient in extracting caffeine.  For some reason, most of the caffeine from tea leaves is drawn out in the first ten seconds.  Thus, steeping does not help much.  The recommendation is just to use more tea leaves.

From the Mayo Clinic:
Coffee drinksSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Brewed8 (237)95-165
Brewed, decaf8 (237)2-5
Espresso1 (30)47-64
Espresso, decaf1 (30)0
Instant8 (237)63
Instant, decaf8 (237)2
Latte or mocha          8 (237)63-126
TeasSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Brewed black8 (237)25-48
Brewed black, decaf8 (237)2-5
Brewed green8 (237)25-29
Ready-to-drink, bottled8 (237)5-40
SodasSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Citrus (most brands)8 (237)0
Cola8 (237)24-46
Root beer (most brands)8 (237)0
Energy drinksSize in oz. (mL)Caffeine (mg)
Energy drink                  8 (237)27-164
Energy shot1 (30)40-100
I can't seem to find any publication saying ENERGY DRINKS PREVENT DEMENTIA.  Most sites tend to criticize these drinks as too high in sugar and are health risks.  Here is a more complete table:

Product                     Size                     Caffeine  Content

Red Bull              8.4 oz (250 ml)                 80 mg
AMP                  16 oz (473 ml)                  142 mg
Monster             16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
Rockstar            16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
NOS                  16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
Full Throttle       16 oz (473 ml)                 160 mg
5-Hour Energy    1.93 oz (57 ml)               200 mg

Note that 5-H E has 200 mg only with 1.93 oz.  You've absolutely got to read my posting about 5-Hour Energy:

So, yes, 5-HE does keep you up, but the inability to sleep was not only inconvenient, it was frightening.  I felt like I had some kind of bad psychological experience, not far unlike from magic truffles.  I certainly won't be taking anything like 5-Hour Energy again in my life

But why bother with energy drinks, for they are expensive, and I'm not sure if you can find one low in sugar/substitutes.  What about caffeine pills?  They are both drug and food additive, and can be found as Vivarin, Cafcit, NoDoz, Jet-Alert etc.  The recommendation is 200-400 mg/day.  Caffeine pills are taken for an energy boost.  However, they can cause hypertension, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmia, liver/kidney disease, anxiety and ulcers, among a host of terrible things.

Definitely, too, watch out for overdosing.  One teaspoon of pure caffeine powder equals more than 25 cups of coffee, so don't buy this form, which should be the cheapest.  I didn't do much of a search, but the best I could find was $18.60/100,000 mg from Blackburn Distributions.  Supposedly, the FDA is cracking down on this supplement.  It is tempting, though, to carefully monitor this powder into what you drink, making sure you don't exceed 400 mg/daily, for it is a hassle, if not also expensive, to drink several cups of coffee/day.

90 caplets of 200 mg Jet-Alert are sold by Walmart for $3.43, which, per pill, costs just about the same as that powder version in the previous paragraph.  Only came on the market in 2009.  The old standard, NoDoz, is also 200 mg/caplet, and 60 of them costs $7.47.  Don't know why, but only 16 caplets of Vivarin at 200 mg costs $3.23.  Why are the prices so different?  They're basically the same product.  Check with your doctor.  I haven't ever purchased any of these, and don't plan to either.  Had a college roommate who survived deadlines on NoDoz, and is still alive and well today.  No signs of dementia.

Quite a bit of information for a posting that I tried to keep simple and short.  I was not aware that caffeine was so effective against dementia!  The bottom line is that my lifestyle involving four alcoholic drinks and a couple cups of coffee daily to fight off Alzheimer's and diabetes seems reasonable, now that I've found a better solution for my hypertension.  There are some downsides, of course, sleep being my next white rat experiment, but that is my choice.  You determine what you want to do.  Have a great weekend.

There is a tropical depression in the East Pacific that will become a hurricane and head for Hawaii.  All signs show a slight turn north and weakening before getting to close to the state:


Thursday, August 17, 2017


Every so often you need to pause and determine where you are so that you can consider any kind of course correction.  So let me just share some free thoughts, perhaps to become topics for future postings:

  • As readers know, while I mostly focus on the subject of the day, I do now and then go on wild tangents.  So let me escape from Donald Trump, solar energy and The Venus Syndrome by first stating that there are beneficial insects.  Lady bugs, bees and butterflies are just three of them.  They regularly visit my lanai herb garden. 
  • The Chinese Swallowtail Butterfly, in particular, has become my favorite insect.  A couple of people have suggested that it spontaneously generates in my apartment.  I think not, but here is a photo I just took today.  The world largest is the Queen Alexandra's birdwing at nearly 10 inches.  Like in bees, this might be the largest butterfly of all-time.
  • Who really cares whether there are differences among bugs, insects and arthropods, but some of them were humongous in prehistoric times.  The Giant Sea Scorpion is the largest bug on record at more than eight feet.  It went extinct 390 million years ago.  
  • If you fear centipedes, don't come to Hawaii.  I've personally done away with monsters at least six, and maybe even, eight inches, long.  One on my roof lanai somehow got up to the 27th floor.  The largest in the state goes up to 9 inches long.  The world's longest, though, is the Amazonian giant centipede below at 12 inches:
  • The largest land scorpion disappeared 400 million years ago, and was two feet long.  Every so often you hear stories about these creatures, such as this BBC-produced photo from a farm in Texas:
  • Those are fake stories, but about today, if you fear running into this Giant Forest Scorpion below, which is nine inches long, don't go to the Western ghats (steps leading to a river) of Karnataka, India.
  • Avoid the savannas and rainforests of West Africa if you are afraid of any black 8' Emperor Scorpion.  Apparently (I haven't tried) but BackwaterReptiles will ship you one of these for $40 as a pet, and it will arrive in two or three days (they only send this package if you are in the USA).  I guess this must, then, be legal.  I wonder if I need to ask permission from 15 Craigside first.  Just joking.  I mostly hope no one from here ever sees this posting and get mischievous.

Now how did I get from life-course correction to fearsome insects?  Life can lead you in strange directions sometimes.  

To continue, though, we all here at 15 Craigside say that we have not yet seen a large cockroach in our apartment.  I'm afraid they're beginning to encroach, for my Hoy-Hoy-Trap-a-Roach on my lanai last week (but it's been out there for many months) caught two large ones.  I just couldn't make myself take a photo.  However, I bought a new set of five traps and placed two on my lanai, and three throughout the apartment.

But I can't end so negative.  What about ten amazing spiders?  Here, a Peacock spider:

And another:

And about how I will be changing my life now that I know more about insects than I had intended?  All is well, especially as my Chinese Swallowtail Butterfly is back.  I can almost discern a fuzzy something at the end of my allegorical tunnel, but I'm enjoying my current path, so there is no clear need for any major readjustment.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CHAPTER 22: Pearl's Ashes--Singapore

I made a major boo-boo last Wednesday.  I skipped Singapore, which came before Sydney.  Anyway, I made the necessary adjustments, and you can now read CHAPTER 23:  Pearl's Ashes--Sydney, as brought up-to-date, if you wish.  Today, I repeat CHAPTER 22 as Singapore.  Should you wish to read about the details of my stopover there in 2012, start with THE MIRACLE CALLED SINGAPORE.

Singapore, to the surprise of most, actually has 63 islands, but only a grand total of 274 square miles, and is slightly larger than Molokai.  How did this backwater British colony become a society where one in  six households is now in the category of being millionaires.  Perhaps emblematic, unlike Hawaii, Singapore is said to be the easiest place in the world to do business.  But that was in 2012.  Today?  New Zealand, my focus next Wednesday for Pearl's Ashes, is #1, but Singapore is #2,  Denmark #3 and the USA #8.

How Singapore pulled off a seeming miracle can largely be linked to one of the finest benevolent dictators of all time:  Lee Kuan Yew.  He graduated from Cambridge and became a lawyer who served as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, the longest serving leader of any government ever.  Queen Elizabeth II has reigned since 1952, but she doesn't run the country.  His son replaced him and Kuan Yew passed away in 2015.

To quote from that above-mentioned 2012 posting:

Remember the concern in Korea (1.28) and Japan (1.37) about fertility rate (FR)?  Singapore is 0.78!

Today (FR):
  • 224  Singapore     0.82
  • 223  Macau           0.94
  • 222  Taiwan          1.12
  • 220  S. Korea        1.25
  • 210  Japan            1.41
  • 182  China            1.60
  • 142  USA              1.87
  •   10  Afghanistan  5.22
  •     4  Somalia        5.89
  •     1  Niger             6.62
Five years ago, 40% of citizens were foreigners.  Today?  64%.  They were #26 on the UN Human Development Index in 2012 and jumped all the way up to #5 in 2016.  Amazing!  The USA?  Dropped from #4 to #10.  And this slide cannot be blamed to Donald Trump.

I thought they had an exceptional educational system, but, apparently not, for Finland is #1, Japan #2 and South Korea #3.  Singapore is #15 and the USA #20.  Are you getting at least a bit concerned that something bad is happening?

Then, maybe it's just plain IQ to explain their success, for Singapore is tied with Hong at #1 with average IQs of 108.  South Korea is #2 at 106, Japan and China #3 at 105 and the USA #9 at 98.  There are 30 countries smarter than the U.S., for the ranking system is a bit odd by counting ties as one number.

So, anyway, I dropped off Pearl's Ashes #38 at their Gardens By the Bay, which had just opened.  The location was at this point close to the Marina Bay Sands, where I had stayed the year before.  Planners want to transition Singapore from a mere progressive city into a garden.  Thus, this exhibit is symbolic of what life will be in in the future.

I earlier showed you their future airport.  Scheduled to open next year as a pronounced upgrade,  Changi Airport has already been #1 in the world for five straight years.  Singapore Airlines, however, has become a bit too elitist, reflecting the general attitudes in the country.

Yes, I know this e-book is about ash ceremonies, and I have been almost negligent about the ritual and sanctity aspects of this obligation.  However, as I mellowed into living life my way, I had long ago decide that in the remaining years of my existence, I would maximize pleasure when possible.  As I'm not into skydiving nor surfing nor charitable compassion nor active remonstrations about saving Planet Earth, I tended to splurge on Michelin 3-Star and Pellegrino best 100 restaurants.  In my limited Singapore stay, I dined well.

When Pearl and I were here a couple of decades ago, this was already popularly known as the Garden City.  One of our stops then was to Sydney, Australia, where we went to Tetsuya, one of the first high-class Japanese restaurants in the world.  This was in the late '80's.   Wakuda Tetsuya opened a second restaurant, this one in the Singapore Marina Bay Sands.  Called Waku Ghin, this is now Asia's 6th best restaurant.  I show here just one dish:  Oscietra caviar on sea urchin.  Abalone, wagyu beef, three kinds of wine and more.  Decadent.

Restaurant Andre is #14 on Pellegrino's World list, and #2 to Gaggan (Bangkok).  This was his salad.  I specifically compared Andre with Alex Atala of DOM.  I just attended Chef Atala's special dinner in Honolulu less than a month ago.  I should ask the Culinary Institute of the Pacific to seek Andre Chiang next.

Maybe the highlight was my dinner with Elizabeth and Al Yee at Iggy's.  Something must have happened during these past five years as it was #26 on Pellegrino's world's best, but now not even in the Asia Top 50.  It did not even gain a Michelin star.  Andre earned 2 stars and Waku Ghin one.  But thinking back, I did rate Iggy's behind the other two.  Anyway, the company was fabulous, especially as they paid for the meal.  Al is helping us in Blue Revolution Hawaii.

Next Wednesday:  New Zealand.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I initiated this three-part 2020 Presidential Election series on Friday.  Yesterday (scroll down to next posting) was part 2.  Today I will tell you who will win on 3 November 2020.

However, a lot will depend on one issue:  whether global warming is considered serious or not.  Gallup reports that 45% of Americans this year worry "a great deal" about global warming.  No doubt President Donald Trump's attitude about the subject and his decision to abandon the Paris Agreement have alarmed some.  Here is a timeline:

That 45%, I might add, is a three-decade high.  Here is another graph that indicates something happened after 2011:

Further, too, now more than two-thirds of our population actually feel that human activities are the cause of this effect:

But here is why I wonder if these beliefs actually will affect the presidential election much:
  • When Donald Trump got elected last year, he did this with the common knowledge that he felt global warming was a hoax.  Already, belief in this phenomenon was high and climbing, so why didn't this idiotic point of view hurt him?
  • People just cannot feel the difference in temperature from year to year.  If the atmosphere jumps 3.6 F by the end of this century, that is only 0.04 F each year.  However, scientists argue that less than a degree F--2.7 F instead of 3.6F--means that coral reefs will not all die and droughts would be half as serious.  But who listens to scientists?
  • It's even more non-discernible regarding sea level rise.  Sure,  projections show, perhaps, a 6-inch increase, but that is less than a tenth of an inch/year.  The future rise could be close to 50 feet, but you need to live to the age of 500 or so.  Going back in time that far takes us to around when Columbus was discovering America.  I'm, of course, being facetious, but people just don't seem to care that much.  Al Gore's second global warming film sank like a rock.  That is a fact.
  • I once thought that we would finally begin to demand action when a hundred million die one hot summer.  Then I saw on TV a blackout in Baghdad, where air conditioners became useless when the temperature was 125 F.  Very few deaths were recorded, and you saw women walking around covered in black.  The bottom line is that record global heat in the worst of summer will just not kill a massive number of humanity.
Decision-makers act when there is a traumatic cataclysm, and this signal might come from hurricanes:
  • While just common sense should be convincing enough, for as the ocean warms, there will be more ocean storms, science has shown that this already happening.  Another catastrophic disaster like Hurricane Katrina overwhelming New Orleans would definitely affect voters.
  • Something the Gore film said finally made sense to me.  As the surface of Planet Earth warms, more water will be vaporized.  Thus, storms can only get worse and worse.
  • However, Katrina was a dozen years ago.
Not sure how truly reliable this projection is, but I've recently seen sea level rise predicted to be almost 10 feet in Rhode Island by 2100.  NOAA's most recent (May of 2017) worst-case projections call for a South Florida sea level rise of more than 6 feet!

A final case in point, then, is that Al Gore beat George H.W. Bush in 2000 on total votes cast, but lost the election because of Florida and the electoral count.  Miami is the most endangered city in the USA because of sea level rise, so just here, the difference might be made.  The world actually is in worse shape.

Thus, will the environment be the difference maker in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election?  Almost any severe disturbance will mostly damage Republicans, as my HuffPo of almost a decade ago suggested.  I've already showed too many details, but let me provide just one more, from Pew:

You need to click on it to read it, but let me point out some highlights:
  • Is climate change occurring?
    • Conservative Republican  18%
    • Liberal Democrat              68%
  • Almost all climate scientists agree that human behavior is mostly responsible for climate change.
    • Conservative Republican  13%
    • Liberal Democrat              55%
  • Can climate scientists be trusted a lot to give full and accurate info on causes of climate change?
    • Conservative Republican   15%
    • Liberal Democrat               70%
How can politicians be so different in consideration of having gone through essentially the same educational system?

Thus, if global warming or any other environmental issue takes a leading role in shaping the attitudes of voters by August of 2020, I cannot imagine Donald Trump or Mike Pence (who has himself said:  I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican -- in that order) beating Al Gore.  But for all you Liberal Democrats reading this, don't necessarily count on this happening as a sure thing.

At this time, unless something unusual happens, ocean storms Jova (heading for Hawaii), Gert (moving away from the USA East Coast) and Banyan (moving away from Japan) will all dissipate without affecting any populated area.